Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Knitting

I learned to knit at primary school, where we had weekly lessons with a lovely woman called Zena, and when it was accepted as a matter of course that all girls would learn to knit, cook, and sew in much that order. I think the boys were let off in favour of something more manly to do with a boat but I'm hazy about the precise details now. What I do remember is enjoying those lessons so I'm not sure why it's taken me 30 years to pick up a pair of needles again, but it has.

I've had some vague idea about embarking on some sort of knitting project for at least a couple of years now, indeed have sometimes felt like the only person I know who doesn't knit but what really tipped the balance was buying wool for my sister last summer. It just came in so many gorgeous colours (our preferred brand is Jamieson's ) that whilst I was choosing greens for her as per instructions I couldn't resist buying some for myself too.

It's taken six months but I've finally given up on the idea of persuading my sister to knit things for me and taken her up on the challenge to do it myself instead. She has always been much better with anything textile based then I am, she can sew in a straight line for a start, and is infinitely more competent at both following and devising patterns. If nothing else my attempts will provide her with some comic relief.

In a spirit of optimism I went out and bought some needles and a book yesterday (the needles turned out to be to small a gauge which was the second thing that amused her). The book was chosen because it looked to contain clear instructions on all the things I would need for the very specific project I'm working up to, was the most sensible size, and also the cheapest. So far it hasn't disappointed. After an hour of vainly trying to remember how to cast on I read the instructions properly and managed to do it without any further difficulties. (That was the first thing sister found hilarious.) It only took twenty minutes to crack purl stitch and after that I spent a happy enough evening practicing stitches and the like. It was slightly disconcerting to realise after a couple of rows that I'd managed to gain several stitches (seems that was funny too) but that seems under control for now.

My plans for knitting are fairly modest, for now it's quite satisfying to rediscover a forgotten -I want to say skill but think that might be overstating my abilities - so should perhaps settle for saying it's good to rediscover something forgotten. Please wish me luck.

16 comments:

  1. Hayley I have just taken up knitting again as well. When I cleared out my mum's flat four years ago when she died I came across a jumper I had half done and gave up on and she said she would finish. Well it never was done and 30 years later I took it back and managed to do it. Spurred on by this I knitted some leg warmers for Florence, just measured her leg and then did them, and now am knitting a scarf in moss stitch. Daphne gave me the package, wool the lot and am doing ok. And I seem to have gained another four stitches as I go along! I am really enjoying picking up the needles again. I actually managed to knit an aran jacket for my ex years ago and he is still wearing it.

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  2. Great minds, Elaine! Though I won't be tackling anything so ambitious in the foreseeable future.

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  3. I took up knitting again in my 60's, a blanket and cardigan for my first grandchild, a twisty curly Noro scarf for that pregnant daughter followed by a glittery triangular scarf for her (knitted to a few askance looks at that year's Edinburgh Book Festival). I still make mistakes and haven't achieved my aim to conquer socks yet but when aches and weariness take me over it is great to feel productive still. And toys are fun to make (dinosaurs, a penguin etc). The only problem (?) is the enticing yarn available nowadays, leading to a stash...
    However knitting needles can be found for pence in charity shops, and I've found fabulous wool in pound shops.
    Good luck and enjoy..

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    1. It was the yarn that pulled me in, and you're so right about the appeal of doing something productive. I found over the last few months I was spending far to much time playing games on my laptop or staring at twitter just not in the mood to concentrate on a book. Knitting is perfect (I'm keeping it simple) whilst watching TV or listening to the radio. It should see me through the winter anyway.

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  4. I do wish you luck and am deeply impressed. I am toying with the idea of learning to knit, if it's not too difficult. Like you, I must have been taught to knit at school - there was an unpleasant project when I was five which involved knitting a Father Christmas - but I have forgotten it (and in any case I believe my mother knitted most of the Father Christmas, incompetently enough for it to be mistaken for the work of a five-year-old so clearly there's no knitting gene in this family). I hope you'll keep us posted, and that I'll be inspired by you... :)

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  5. I'm keeping it simple - partly because I like to see instant results and partly to build confidence. So far it all seems reassuringly easy and enjoyable - dark night, hot tea, trashy TV, clack of knitting needles. If the results are passable I'll certainly be sharing them, otherwise the evidence will be buried at the back of a drawer!

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  6. Good luck with the knitting. I have done it on and off along with stitching all my life. My Nan taught my mum and it was a given I was going to have to do it. There is something reassuring about just letting something grow whilst watching TV. Start with simple stuff then you can progress, it will get easier I promise. I love all the wool and have rather too much than I have time to knit. Bit like books I can't stop buying it.

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    1. Think I'm about 1/4 of the way through a scarf now and wondering why on earth it took me so long to start knitting again. Given the price of wool and the amount of time it takes to make anything however I'm looking at the prices of hand knitted stuff with a whole new level of respect...

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  7. Will be postingabout my knitting soon as well!

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    1. Look forward to seeing what you've made, Elaine!

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  8. Happy knitting and good luck! I'm sure you'll make a very good knitter. Really, once you've learned to knit, purl, cast on, and bind off, you can knit pretty much anything. All you really need is the ability to read. :) I hope you post pictures of the completed project!

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  9. I've almost finished my scarf and am really pleased with it so far. I think you're right about about how simple it is once you've cracked the basics - then it's just a matter of building on them in manageable stages. I lack the patience for really big/ ambitious projects but there are still lots of things I'm keen to have a go at.

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  10. Elaine sent me, lol! Took knitting up again after going back home to the UK for a couple of years. Don't need to buy yarn for a long time.......not so good at blocking and weaving in ends, though!

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    1. One of the things I like about knitting is that there are satisfying projects for all levels. Must admit my weaving in skills are rubbish, and as for blocking... Mostly though it's just about the fun of making something!

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  11. I too have taken up knitting again after a break of more than 25 years. If you use wooden needles it is brilliant exercise for arthritic fingers

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    1. I was really impressed with your jumpers Elaine, and it's not a bad little book is it? Decent for beginners without feeling patronising or dumbed down and builds up skills in a very manageable way. Still can't ever imagine having the patience to knit something like your cardigan (never mind the skills).

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