Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Confidence in Knitting

I recently picked up a copy of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's (aka Yarn Harlot) book Free-Range Knitter and have realized something about knitting that I had never considered before. Well, actually what I am about to say, I am sure many of you will read it, read it again, and think, "Well, duh..." or "Is she really that dense?" But if you will just humor me for a minute, I have been in the lone and dreary world of knitting all by myself for quite a while, and it was not until I moved to Utah that acceptance and even embracing of my passion was acquired.

As an example, my step-mother lives in Southern California and is an avid quilter. She made a trip up here this last weekend and, of course, the first thing she wanted to do was shop at every quilt store I could find to help her with her stash. When I inquired about this desire, nay, even primal drive to shop for fabric, she informed me that three quilt shops that were even remotely near her home had recently closed. Ergo, "Utah is the crafting capital of the world," she proclaimed. Really? But then I thought back to the time I had lived in Southern California too.

The first time I entered a yarn shop, as you know I was pregnant with my first child. It was in Sherman Oaks, and the shop was small, but bright and friendly. The staff was all too eager to show me the two basic stitches of knitting: knit and purl. From then on I was on my own. I developed my own style of knitting and learned from books, while only when extremely frustrated, entering a yarn store to ask a question so I may receive clarification. I became a closet knitter.

The next time I seriously picked up the needles again, I was living in the Inland Empire (hotter than Hades there, I might add). I went to the only store I could find (which was 30 minutes from my home) and inquired about some classes. Gleefully signing up and paying my money, as I exited the store I was walking on clouds and couldn't wait for the class to start. I envisioned finally rubbing elbows with other knitters and commiserating over patterns and yarn. I arrived at the designated time, opened my carry-all and sat down to knit. I noticed tiny snickers and twittering, and out of the corner of my eye saw some strange glances. One brazen women looked me in the eye and proclaimed: "You are totally knitting the wrong way." Did she help me with the "right" way? No. So, mortified, I slinked from the shop never to enter the establishment again. I sadly put away my needles and forced my burgeoning passion to the back of my mind.

Fast forward to moving to Utah. I found a store, and with not a small amount of trepidation entered the portal to the Land of Yarnia. This time the girls in the shop was friendly, kind and extremely personable. I timidly relayed my experience in California and the owner of the shop asked me to show her how I knit. She too began to laugh, but for a completely different reason. She said I knit in the Continental Style and then she said to me in the kindest voice, "Oh, honey, there is no right way to knit. If the stitches aren't twisted, then how they get there doesn't matter." Whew! Well, now I was mad. Do you know how much time I wasted without nary a knit stitch in sight? Do you know how many moments my kids would have fallen on their knees and thanked the heavens that mom didn't kill them for something they had done? Why? If I had been knitting, I would have been calm, serene, yea, even the very model of saintly patience. But did my children receive this treatment? No!!! Why? Because I believed some impudent, ignorant woman whose shop I most fervently hope has perished into the vast wasteland of the California recession.

So, here is my point. ANYONE can learn to knit. Whatever makes you feel comfortable, is the right way. As long as the stitches look right, who cares? I learned to crochet first, so holding the yarn in my right hand is uncomfortable and completely useless. I might as well try knitting with my feet to hold the yarn this way. When I purl, I still hold the yarn in my left hand, but then I kind of "throw" the yarn anyway. Why? I don't know. It's just how I do it. All knitters are each uniquely and profoundly different from each other. So, put your needles in the air and proclaim: "I can knit! I can create! I am worthy!" Ha-ha-ha-ha (evil cackle)!!!!

1 comment:

Laurie said...

I can relate to trying to learn to knit. Remember my mom, Ms. Crazy-make up your own patterns - knitter - wonder woman. She tries to teach me to knit but ends up speaking in terms way over my head. So I have many projects I've started, very few finished because her visit usually ends before I've finished my project so it goes back into the knitting bag. I must say I'm still only comfortable with the knit and pearl stitch...someday!