I turned 50 back in August, and for my birthday I asked for some supplies to re-learn how to knit. I wanted to take up knitting for a handful of reasons, but mostly it was to have something other than mindlessly surfing screens in my downtime, and because I have always been a maker.
I had originally learned how to knit when I was a kid; there was a lady in our neighbourhood named Trudy who taught me, when I was about 10. The 70s and 80s were a different time â€“ I donâ€™t know how I met Trudy, a single woman with no kids, or how I ended up friends with her, but I have clear memories of going to her house, alone, and her teaching me to knit. The only knit item I remember ever finishing was a long red and white scarf for my high school boyfriend. I have carried with me for years a bag of yarn and scraps were supposed to be a blanket in the late 80s or early 90s, but that was the last time Iâ€™d knit, aside from teaching Tristan how to do basic garter stitch a few years ago.
So, I asked for a set of double-pointed needles and some acrylic yarn to try to make a fingerless glove pattern Iâ€™d seen on Ravelry. Iâ€™d never used DPNs before, but thatâ€™s what Google is for. (How did we ever learn things before Google?) Then I googled long-tail cast on, and M1L and M1R and how to pick up stitches, and pretty much every other thing in that pattern except the basic knit stitch that I knew. I even made a test glove before I used the â€œgoodâ€ acrylic, which turned out to be a horrible stiff yarn that vacillated randomly in thickness and I hated by the end of the first glove.
Long before I finished the fingerless gloves, that I had by that point fallen out of love with but was determined to finish anyway, I discovered a project that made my heart sing: the Geek-along blanket. It was a series of double-knit squares that you could knit and join into your own blanket. There were squares for D&D, for Terry Pratchett, for Star Wars and Star Trek and Harry Potter. There were Zelda squares and Pac Man squares and even a Douglas Adams square. Oh yes, this was a project I had to try. So I learned to double-knit, and then when I found a pattern with a d20 from Dungeons and Dragons with a natural 20 on one side and a natural 1 on the other side of the square, I learned to double-knit while throwing different patterns to either side, also called extreme double knitting. Iâ€™ve got eight squares done so far, aiming for 24, but other projects keep getting in the way!
Like thrummed mittens â€“ Iâ€™ve made two sets of those, plus some thrummed slippers for Granny for Christmas. I went on a hat-making spree and made slouchy beanies for my brother for his birthday, and for Beloved and Simon for Christmas. I designed (!) and made a Link (from Zelda) hat for Tristan. And I finally finished those first fingerless gloves. Though I didnâ€™t love them, Lucas did, and he wore them all through the autumn until it was too cold for fingerless gloves. And I chose a new pattern and made a nicer set for myself in fancy Malabrigo yarn. Oh, and I made a Baby Yoda, as one does.
But! The thing that I most wanted to try and most feared was socks. I looked at pattern after pattern. I was intimidated by the heel flap, by picking up those stitches. Eventually, I settled on a pattern that seemed both tried and true and straightforward, and I set off to make socks.
Back in the fall, I came across this quote about knitting on Reddit, via Tumblr:
â€œThe thing about knitting is that it’s much harder to fear the existential futility of all your actions while you’re doing it. Like okay, sure, sometimes it’s hard to believe you’ve made any positive impact on the world. But it’s pretty easy to believe you’ve made a sock. Look at it. There it is. Put it on, now you’re foot’s warm.
Checkmate nihilism indeed. I not only made a sock, I made TWO SOCKS. Take that, second sock syndrome!
So Iâ€™m, um, sort of obsessed with knitting now. Iâ€™m currently in the middle of a simple little hat to practice stranded colourwork, because why not? And I have 16 blanket squares left to make, and then (**weeps**) join. And Iâ€™ve stashed the yarn to make at least four more pairs of socks. And several hats. And I bought the pattern for a Cowichan sweater that I opened when I downloaded it, took one look at, and said, â€œoh crap, I am not ready for this yet. Not even close.â€
But, maybe next week?