I began learning because (smaller reason) I thought it might be good for me somehow, and (larger reason) I want my girls to learn at least the basics as part of their education. As for why now of all times... well, it was in one of the books I've been referencing some for life skills (Training Our Daughters To Be Keepers At Home), so why not? Besides, it was an excuse to procrastinate learning more about sewing, which I still haven't caught on to and don't expect I ever will. :-P
But I didn't expect that I would enjoy knitting. I thought I knew myself well enough. I'd labeled myself as basically deficient in whatever feminine inclination it is that makes most women enjoy traditionally womanly fiber arts. It took me a while to get it figured out enough to do anything (unlike Bethany, who picked up the idea right away), but once I did, I found it kind of fun, and even sort of -- dare I say? -- relaxing.
I think it might be a texture thing. I like certain textures, and cotton is one of them. The yarn I began with is cotton and I'm glad, because I also have a large skein of yellow yarn which is something decidedly not cotton (maybe nylon? I don't know, I knew nothing about yarn when I got it years ago for one of those little kiddie art projects that calls for stuff you supposedly have around the house...), and if I'd begun with it I may very well have written off the whole process. It doesn't feel nearly as nice. But since I did something with it after working with the cotton for a good while, I realized it was the yarn and not the process, and therefore just resolved to stick with something that feels nice to me in the future as much as possible.
Here are all things I've knit up to now. Samples of stitches, pieces for a "little monster" project I'm doing for the children with the yellow yarn, the beginning of a scarf, and (not quite completed here) a dishrag.
Here is the scarf, which I'm doing because it's a project in the book mentioned above, and it's super easy so I figure it will solidify this basic skill (and maybe get me some patience along with it, because it's going to take a loooong time to finish).
My grandma taught me how to knit the dishrag. That was nice and I know I will treasure that memory for years to come.
Here it is completed. You can see the evidence that I was learning... it's knit too tightly on the bottom right corner, and there's an error in the edging.
How many women (or men, for that matter) for how many years poured how many hours into how many things that they used for tasks like washing dishes, before our time? How many women still do it today, in parts of the world not rich enough to have a Wal-Mart in every large-ish town? I think of this. And I think of how I didn't have any concept before I took up those needles, of what it meant to knit. Of what each dishrag Grandma sweetly gave me really represented. Hours with the click of the needles, hours sitting alone in a chair in a living room where Grandpa is missed. What a child I am.
Grandma has recently begun a battle with cancer. And I think, if I'm going to treasure anybody's dishrags, it ought to be hers and not mine. Or could it be both, I query, not yet ready to part with my hours.... I go to my drawer and I rifle through her rags, looking for the best, but they are all worn at least a shade past being a keepsake. I comfort myself with the fact that Grandma still knits. If I get just one more from her, I know it won't go in that drawer. But who will make my dishrags? Will it be me? My daughters? Or some incredible machine in a factory in some distant land, guided by somebody else's grandma?
It's a small thing in a big world. It all takes someone's hours. The youthful consumer generations don't see it as readily as the old war-ravaged depression children did. We haven't had to. We've been so rich, so blessed... so spoiled? God bless America's grandmas, and so much of that generation, whose labor helped make America great. And God help us as we follow in their footsteps.
When you start something new, you never quite know what you're getting into, do you? ;)