Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Things I Have Learned About Knitting From the Internet

I've learned many things recently about my lifelong hobby - Knitting.  At first, the things I was hearing on podcasts and seeing on the web seemed like sacrilege. I giggled nervously, in case someone else noticed. Now, ladies, because most of you are ladies, I bow to you in homage and thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have freed me to enjoy my knitting again.  Thank you, thank you, Annette, Sadie, Heather, Jo, Nic, Chrissy and many, many more.. you know who you are.

So here are some of the lessons I have learned:

You don't have to be weird to knit

Once upon a time almost every woman knitted.  I learned about the time I learned to drink tea with my great aunt (I was probably 7). I didn't have any great skill, but then I doubt if Aunt D had either.  We turned out v-neck jumpers with dodgy necks and boxy cardigans with huge buttonholes.  But the point was, everyone did it. A woman's magazine had to have knitting patterns in it.. that was the law!  Over the years knitting declined in popularity. Perhaps it was the growth of cheap acrylic and cheap knitwear in the shops.  It was no fun to knit any more. The yarns were unexciting and you could buy something serviceable at far less that it would cost to make. Yarn shops almost disappeared. Patterns vanished from women's mags and people started to say they didn't think anyone knitted anymore...

All of a sudden, the internet arrived and those lonely knitters were able to find each other again. They started swapping ideas, getting together at knit nights and providing a market. I still find I'm an object of curiosity when I pull out my latest hat on the way to work, but increasingly people actually talk to me on the train. They ask how I learned, what I'm making and so many ladies bemoan the fact that they didn't listen when gran tried to teach them.  Every single one of these conversations has been fun and friendly.

Near me, a gorgeous yarn shop has opened up. I was there at the weekend touching everything, holding balls of yarn together to try the colours out and generally picking out bits for me.  My excitement must have been tangible.  I was 17 again.. spending my first week's Saturday-job money on myself... The owner laughed and said "carry on, my dear.. you're among friends here".  Bliss!

You don't have to knit one thing at a time

I actually knitted and wore
things from this book

Yes, you have my permission, you can cast on all the things.  Of course, you need to have a copious supply of needles and some way to store each project so you don't end up with a jumbled, tangled mess. But you can.. it's all up to you.  Way back when, somehow you were only allowed to be working on one thing at a time. If you had a scratchy, dull school jumper to knock out for your rugby-playing brother, that was just tough. You slogged away at it until it was done.  

Of course, having my permission to cast on all the things means, by extension, you also have my permission to obtain the project bags, needle sets (multiple) that will make your knitting organised and ready to carry along with you wherever you go.

The only danger you run is that you may start to feel the pressure to finish something once in a while but....

You don't have to finish what you started

Really, honestly, you don't.  Who is this knitting for, after all?  Isn't the point that it's your hobby?  You should knit things you enjoy and you find beautiful. If it becomes a job or a chore then it's up to you to decide whether you love the recipient enough to finish it. 

Besides, I've found that if I'm not enjoying a project, it's almost always because I've picked the wrong pattern for the occasion or for the materials.  Sometimes I pull a project out three or four times and try something different. Eventually, everything clicks and I race along, wondering why on earth I had so much trouble in the first place. I think of this as the yarn telling me what it wants to be.  A prime example is the wavy crocheted blanket I've mentioned before. Once I had married the right stitch with the colours and weight of yarn I was away. 

There is a world of new yarns and new techniques out there

Woolly Wormhead
strikes again
I thought I knew yarn - I have some stuff that is older than my kids but which has never made it to a finished item.. and my oldest is off to University soon. I think some animals may get a pile of snuggles next year.. Anyhow, I am now feeding my addiction one skein at a time.  I've knitted a gorgeous Woolly Wormhead hat in something scrumptious with silk from the Skein Queen and another in a beautifully soft cotton. I've discovered I actually can knit in the round so long as I don't bother with those tricksy double-pointed needles. Your cast-on edge doesn't have to be tight and rough.. OK perhaps I'll stop giving away my short-comings..

The point is, some of the new generation of knitters don't seem to know the rules I grew up with.  We are finally free to do what makes sense. There are also people who love colour and who love good yarns and who are putting them together in such exciting ways. I am really looking forward to exploring them all.

Pinterest and Ravelry are as addictive as {insert your most addictive addiction here}

Oh my, the days I must have lost to Pinterest.  They send you those tantalising emails "here are some pins we think you'll love"  and you're off... clicking through, looking at another board, discovering there are even more hobbies you've not tried yet and oh, that bracelet is gorgeous.. I have to learn to make it.... 

Pinterest led me to Ravelry ... so many interesting-looking designs... and you have to register. So I did. And I found thousands of things I wanted to make.. Oh and then there were groups for the podcasters I'd just started to discover and they were fun and chatty and full of supportive, happy knitters. I love knitalongs, well anything-alongs... and I've won a skein of yarn recently that I'm think might be waiting at the post office for me to collect. So exciting.  Only problem is now I have a queue of things I want to make that will last me forever, a growing stash and a stack of patterns I've already bought that I probably won't complete until the end of next year. Ho hum, what a problem to have, huh?  Happy happy Debris!  

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