How Knitting Changed My Life (Part 1)
If you would have told me twenty years ago or even just six years ago that today I would be running a business based around knitting, that I would quit my full time steady income job, that the mere act of twisting string into fabric would direct my career path, I would have said you were crazy. But that is exactly what happened.
Yes, it was over 20 years ago when I first picked up a set of knitting needles. Some time back in the late 1990's. I don't know why or what gave me the urge but for some reason I decided I wanted to learn how to knit. I didn't know anyone who knit, didn't have any knitter friends. I was a stay at home mom of two little ones and one day it just hit me - I wanted to learn how to knit. I had grand dreams of knitting little cardigans for my children and matching family sweaters. And back in those days you couldn't just Google "how to knit" or look up a YouTube video. No, it wasn't quite that easy.
But there was Walmart. I found a kit labeled "Taught Myself to Knit". It included a set of metal knitting needles, a few bits and bobs that I had no idea what they were for at the time, and a book of knitting instructions and patterns. (Funny how I remember all that after so many years.) It looked a little something like this:
On the back were pictures of all the patterns you could learn to make. Having no knowledge of knitting, knowing only that I wanted to learn, I picked one out and bought the yarn along with the kit. I took it home, opened it up and looked through all the pieces, not understanding what most of them were for. But I had yarn and needles and the rest I would figure out.
I set about learning how to cast on, how to make a knit stitch and a purl stitch. Once I felt I had those down I was ready to knit the pattern I had chosen - a beautiful cabled afghan in a cream colored acrylic yarn. It was going to adorn the back of my sofa and it was going to be beautiful. (Yes...I said acrylic.) And...I had no idea how to do a cable or really even what that meant. But no matter...I would figure it out.
I cast on the hundreds of stitches needed and managed to keep them on the needles. Which wasn't easy. These were straight needles I was working on. I don't know if circulars was even a thing back then. But things were going pretty well I felt. I didn't know the difference between garter stitch and stockinette but I knew I was knitting where it said to knit and I was purling where it said to purl and it looked like the picture in the book. Yes, even the cables. I was feeling very proud of myself. I had learned to knit.
One day I went over to a friends house and another lady was also visiting her that day. She was an older lady. I don't remember her relationship to my friend. Perhaps a relative, I don't know. (Hey, it was over 20 years ago. You can't expect me to remember everything.) Anyway, turned out she was a knitter. OMG!, was I excited. A knitter! Boy, was I going to take advantage of this situation. I was going to pick her brain for every scrap of knitting knowledge I could. So I set about my task of learning all I could from this chance encounter. I told her how I was teaching myself to knit and how I had bought this book and yarn and needles and I was knitting a cabled afghan and it was all going so well and...
...my knitting world came to a screeching halt.
I just remember her saying, "oh no, you can't knit a cabled afghan as a first project. It's too complicated. You have no idea what you're doing. You can't be doing cables. You're a beginner."
I felt crushed. I didn't know this lady. She wasn't someone I admired or looked up to. But as someone who had been knitting for many years I trusted her knowledge on the subject and well...felt that she must know what she's talking about. More than me. What did I know about knitting? Nothing really. Only what I had read in that book from Walmart. And who even knew if I had read and understood the instructions correctly? Maybe I didn't. Maybe I had it all wrong. I didn't have anyone to ask. I couldn't Google it. I was really just guessing. And in a matter of minutes I went from the excitement of meeting a knitter in person and having all my knitting questions answered to the devastation of having my dream of knitting matching family sweaters crushed.
I went home, looked at my half knit afghan and now only saw a mediocre attempt at learning to knit. I put it into a bag and stuffed it in the back of the closet where it stayed for many years. Eventually, I pulled it out one day and wondered why I was still holding on to it and threw it in the trash.
I didn't knit again until 2012.
I was working as a manager in a bookstore and there was a little coffee shop inside the bookstore. One day I was working what would have been my normal day off and a group of ladies came into the coffee shop. I saw them all gathered around a table, chatting, laughing, and knitting. Knitting...it had been ages since I had thought about knitting. I somehow, started chatting with them. I don't remember how or even what we chatted about. But we got to talking and I told them about how I had tried knitting years earlier and just couldn't do it. They insisted that of course I could and invited me to their next meet up.
And so...I went.
Although I didn't know it at the time, that day changed my life.
Find out how in next week's post.
Until next time,
Carry a little joy wherever you go.