My mom taught me to knit when I was young. When I was about 15 I even made a knitted kangaroo, and then a dress, using really really big kitting needles and multiple strands of yarn (I probably had a lot of help from mom). We were in Australia, and I think I wore it once, and then it was so stretched out of shape I got rid of it. Little did I know I could wash it and it would probably go back to its original shape. I only knew that I could not afford to look too strange when I was already strange enough in a different country at that tender teenage time of my life.
After that I knitted things once in a while, but they tended to be rectangles; scarves, shawls, and I even found a sweater pattern made of rectangles that were sewn together. Although I enjoyed it, and found there were many years of my twenties and thirties when I could not watch TV without working on a project such as knitting, I was limited by my abilities. So when my back became my new limitation, and I found myself spending a lot of time on the couch, I decided to tackle real knitting patterns, and learn both how to read them and how to knit the stitches they were talking about. I got myself a book that called itself a visual way to learn knitting, bought a book with Asian inspired patterns (modified rectangles), and spent Sarita’s gift certificate for a local knitting store ( given to her from the parents of the kids in her class) on some beautiful expensive melon- colored cotton yarn. And then I just did it. I made lots of mistakes, which caused me to start over about 4 times, made lots more mistakes, which Sarita fixed for me (being that she’s an excellent knitter), and kept going until I was done. It wasn’t bad, maybe a little big and not very lightweight, but not bad!
That was the beginning, and I was hooked! It’s not very often in life that we get to learn this way, the really slow way, by doing and making mistakes, and doing again and again. It’s a joyful and meaningful way to learn! Thankfully, I find that each sweater is a little better than the last one. Knitting is a slow process, so it takes a while to get to the end, and the yarn isn’t cheap, so each sweater is a rather expensive way to improve. But I have time, and I’ve found a site on the internet where interesting yarn goes on sale, so I just keep knitting. I always try to tackle something different for each project so that I continue to learn new stitches and techniques, and I find that it’s working: the sweaters are fitting better, and they are looking more complicated.
Although there is a knitting store just a few blocks from my house, and last year I measured my health progress by finally being able to walk there, I was not interested in taking a class. I didn’t know if I could sit up comfortably, and I’m shy about being in a class with others who are probably better than I. So I continued to practice and use my books and figure things out myself. Finally, I got tired of my panics when I made mistakes, waiting for Sarita to get home or bothering her in the middle of whatever she was doing to help fix them. I bravely decided to take a class on how to fix mistakes. That turned out to be more helpful than I could have realized, just in the fact that I don’t panic as much anymore, and I can also fix most of whatever crazy things I manage to do. But while taking the class, I learned that i do not hold my needles correctly, and I really “should” change that. It reminded me of teaching myself to play fiddle, and then after playing for years by myself and with others, being told that my bowing was all wrong during a one-time lesson with a professional fiddler. (I was so discouraged, I didn’t play for many years after that.) I also taught myself to play guitar, and remember being told by one of my dad’s graduate students that my strumming arm was not appropriately positioned against the guitar. It seems to be a theme for me, but at least I’ve grown up enough to know that even though I’m no professional, what works for me works just fine, even if it is “wrong”. So I continue knitting up a storm, preparing myself for the coldest of weather in our new home (or the coldest of weather inside the CA house), and enjoy every second of it.
I look forward to the time when I’m able to feel confident enough to give away more homemade garments, but meanwhile, I’ll just keep trying new things and keeping my eye out for sale yarn. I also have two friends who knit/crochet with me while we talk and catch up on life. I can’t imagine a better way to spend my time waiting to move to New Mexico.