Once upon a time my family was having a New Years party. They were always day long, open house affairs with lots of good food, hilarious conversation, with everyone jamming into the kitchen even if there was plenty of room elsewhere. I stood to the side one evening (I couldn't have been more than 13 years old) and my Mom's friend, Sue, asked me if I wanted to learn how to knit. Sue is a smiling, petite woman with curly hair and round glasses, and an acute case of what she calls "Crafting ADD", where she learns a new craft, sewing, spinning, embroidery (in later years she would teach my mother and I how to weave on two of her three looms), silk painting, whatever she could find, and then work at it until she is an expert. She told me to grab some yarn and needles (while there were no knitters in my family at the time, we were crafty enough to have the supplies floating around the house) and sat me down in the same kitchen to learn how to knit. She taught me a long tail cast on, and then pulled it all out so I could do it myself from the beginning. She told me it didn't matter if my knitting was a mess, because my hands didn't know what they were doing yet, and I may want to frame this little piece of knitting because I'll never be able to knit like that once I get the hang of it. She kept telling me to relax my shoulders, and that I would hurt myself if I was too tense, and how sometimes she had to pull the yarn off her own needles to tell herself it really doesn't matter if she drops a stitch. And I knit. I really did. And it was wonderful
I had had a little foray into crochet, but that didn't really work for me. Mostly because I couldn't follow a pattern, and I made many flower pot like hats out of three strands of red heart yarn. But this was new, and fascinating. I knit that little piece of red fabric, and later I made scarfs. It's all you can do, after all, when patterns are still a confusion to me, and I can only knit in squares from whatever comes out of my head. So I knit that scarf, and since I no longer had Sue to guide me, I dug up a book that could teach me how to purl. I was on a roll then! Then I learns what knitside and purlside looked like, I knit myself a checkered scarf (I was so proud of that thing though I couldn't figure out why there was a hole there that didn't pull out. I realized later it was a yarn over that snuck in.) I "discovered" ribbing, and how it stretched, and made a whole scarf out of my "new" invention. I even did this sort of slip stitched tube on one needle. But then I took things to a whole new level: I bought garbage bags of discounted, faded blue yarn, and decided I would make a blanket. Again, I didn't know anything about patterns, so I cast on something like 400 stitches on size 10 needles and hoped that was enough. It was MASSIVE. I made 20x25 squares, and knit like there was no tomorrow, no do overs. I was so proud when I could show it to Sue, and she smiled and said, "Anne, you made fabric!!!"
Then came knitting patterns online. It would have been around or before 2008, when I was watching Doctor Who and David Tennant was the coolest thing since the slurpee machine. I found a website that was full of crafts that people had made about the show, and sure enough there was a pattern for the wristwarmers Rose Tyler wore in "Doomsday." I wanted to make them so bad. After all, there was the pattern, I could get the yarn, and there was nothing, nothing at all to stop me. In one fell swoop I learned how to cable knit, knit in the round, and read a pattern, and I sat down to Miss Marple and made it so. I was ridiculously pleased.
Avid Butter Spreader
P.S. My friend Sue has an etsy shop too, etsy.com/shop/FantasyTartans