Saturday, February 25, 2006

Thoughts on Learning to Knit

When I was a child I learned to knit from my grandmother.
For so many of us that is the beginning of a long and fulfilling relationship with knitting. For me, it was a disaster.

I was much better at crocheting. I stuck to the single hook for ages.

I had a brief fling with knitting again in high school. I had been cast as Anne in The Diary of Anne Frank and when I read that Anne gave her father a knitted scarf for Hanukkah I realized that to be honest in my portrayal I needed to knit the scarf myself.

This was my first big both acting and knitting.

The line, as I recall it goes something like this:
Anne: (apologetically, as her father reacts to the scarf) I knitted it in the dark...out of odds and ends...

My delivery, I'm sure, was perfection. Not so my knitting. The scarf received laughs.
Every night.
For two weeks.

I was thirty two before I tried to knit again.

When I did I learned from an aptly named knitting store owner, Prophet of the Knitting Salon in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
My friend Jamie took me there. I insisted I was a crocheter and cross stitcher, but not a knitter.
"All you need," Prophet said, "is some wooden needles and some real wool."
Of course you'd say that, I thought. They're more expensive.
As though Prophet could (appropriately) read my mind, "If it doesn't work out for you, bring them back."
An offer I couldn't refuse.
I took handspun, hand dyed yarn home and some GORGEOUS (now discontinued) Black Walnut Brittany Knitting Needles (13's, still have 'em) and went home to knit my husband a scarf.


I taught myself wrong. For whatever reason, Prophet failed to explain to me that I was actually and in fact, twisting and untwisting my stitches. Years later I would find that Annie Modesitt made a name for herself dubbing what I was also naturally doing Combination Knitting. My knitting looked normal, but decreases were messy and made no sense to me as written in patterns. I eventually learned to knit a more traditional Continental style; decreases were revelatory and socks became my friend. I also learned to knit Continental and British at the same time so I could change colors more effectively.

To Be Continued...

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