Friday, February 6, 2009

Hello, my name is Brenda. I'm 28 years old. And I am a knitter.

My stash.

(Happy 31 weeks!)

It was five years ago on a cold and rainy day in South Bend, Indiana that I decided to get a hobby (apparently studying for a double major while maintaining a long-distance relationship just didn't "challenge" me). Having perused the possibilities and by-passed things like drawing, painting, losing weight and pottery (they all involve having way too much innate ability and generally
expensive equipment), I settled on knitting. Not crocheting - that's for old women and sucks - but knitting.

*Start Explanation Regarding my Perceived Suckage of Crocheting*

When I was about 14 or 15 (and yes, in the Girl Scouts), my troop leaders decided it would be a good idea to do a crafty-type badge which included learning to crochet as one of the requirements. The only exposure I'd ever had to crocheting before that was watching my grandmother do it with tiny hooks and tiny thread, which always resulted in the copious amounts of homemade doilies littering the house (tastefully, no doubt). While I was ever-amazed at the dexterity her chubby-old-woman hands displayed while weaving her proverbial web, I was never really taken by the urge to pick the hobby up myself.

Ironically, my leaders decided to teach us to crochet (no t knowing how themselves, I suspect) using the same tiny hooks and tiny thread. At the best of times I could make out a wad of knots. At the worst of times I simply had to start snipping randomly with scissors in hopes of eventually finding the other end of the string. I am not a patient person, people. This was torture.

I came out of those very frustrating 4-6 hours with nothing more than a large spool of tiny thread, a tiny hook, and a co
uple of mangled mini-doilies, one of which, oddly, resembled the letter A and would therefore be gifted to the aforementioned grandmother (whose name is Ana) for Christmas. (Ah the serendipitous things life brings to us! I'm a make-lemonade kinda girl.) The others got strewn on the Christmas tree as "decoration" (yet ano ther example of the boundless extents of parental love) and have been, over the years, lost to the foreboding and all-eating attic. Thank GOD.

*End Explanation Regarding my Perceived Suckage of Crocheting*

So, having decided determinedly not to crochet, I made my knitting intentions known to my mother and sister, Carla (a.k.a Caaa the Queenmidge). My sister, the "artistic one," went out and bought me a "teach yourself how to knit" booklet, some cream-colored wool yarn, and a couple of size US7 needles in bright blue. A decent size of needle. Not too small, not too big.

The ability to successfully manipulate these needles in my hands and recognize the stitches I was making was all the encouragement I needed. I dove head first into what became known to everyone close to me as the "never-ending-scarf-capade" (ok, I'm paraphrasing). I made a never-ending scarf in cream for myself (which was too wide and I never used). I made a never-ending scarf in cream for my sister (which I never finished and never gave her). I made a never-ending-do-rag for my mom's dog (Hopi Midgebean I, said in a British Accent) which even the dog wouldn't wear. Then I started making never-ending scarves in navy blue. By that point I didn't even pretend to make them for people anymore. I just made them because I had to. I needed to.

This over the course of two or three years. Then I stopped. And the world sighed a great sigh of relief. Flash ahead Quantum-Leap-style to January 2007 and me sitting alone in a Westminster hotel (which shall remain nameless) on our first week in London. Matt is at work. I'm watching Big Brother and the Shilpa Shetty-Jade Goody saga is unraveling (pun intended) before my eyes. (Incidentally, it was Jade Goody and her name-calling that taught me what a Poppadom is, so I may still have come out on the upside of the losing-brain-cells-while-watching-Big-Brother battle.) I start knitting an afghan - don't ask what possessed me - and give up after about three days of futile efforts. I didn't realize then, but I truly believe upon hindsight that it was peoples' rejections of my creations that was causing them to tend to alternative-proportions and styles.

It wasn't until the summer of 2008 when I found out I was pregn
ant with Ludovictus (read: an unconditional and non-speaking perma-audience located in my torso who has no taste or sense of proportion yet) that I found someone who could truly appreciate my handy work. And so I embarked on the knitting adventure once more - this time armed with a lovely little book I found at Peter Jones (and a new term in my vocab: Haberdashery!):

Ah, Debbie Bliss - yarn-knotter-artiste-extraordinaire!
Female savior of the
knitting persuasion!

Not only did I get her book - I also purchased the loveliest of things: cotton yarn and baby cashmerino yarn, also by Debbie Bliss. Her range, if you haven't seen it, comes in unorthodox but still baby-esque pale tones. They give you a sense of choosing something "other" and yet acceptable by the general public. Her patterns are simple, classic, modern and absolutely British. (And believe me, I really needed to find something British that I loved!) My first project were a pair of these for my favorite (and only) little niece Ava Sophia a.k.a Mimsy:

I successfully completed the 0-3 months pattern which came out the right size for a 2 year old (don't know what happened there). Most importantly they looked just like the ones in the book, and this boosted my knitting ego quite a bit.

My second and current project was a little something for Ludo. I opted for a cardigan (hey, he'll be born in London ok?) in pea green cashmerino. And much to my own surprise, it looks great!

About 90% of the way through this cardigan I joined a local knitting group at a really awesome yarn store down the street in Putney: Stash Yarns. There are a bunch of lovely ladies there who helped me master the finishing touches (seams), and without them I would have been lost. (Ever grateful.) I just have to sew the buttons on and it'll be set to bring the little guy home in! All this success has made me reconsider my ban on crocheting. Maybe if I just get a bigger hook...

* * *

Here are some other lovely hand-knitted things I've received as gifts recently:

This is the sweater Matt came home from the hospital in!
Handmade by his mom 20-something years ago.

This is the sweater my MIL made for our baby.
I'm thinking it.

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