Friday, February 5, 2016

How I became a knitter

My maternal grandmother taught me to knit when I was just a baby, sometime around 1970. She was a continental knitter (this means she held the yarn in her left hand and snagged it with the right needle.) I loved how her hands flashed too fast to even see what she was doing. The sound of her anodized aluminum needles was fascinating to me. I made her teach me how to knit against her will. Or at least that's how my aunt remembers it. I can only remember sitting on the sofa in the living room of the ancestral home with some hideous green acrylic yarn knitting a scarf for my cousin who lived in Montana. (In Beachton, Georgia the average low is 40°F in January, the coldest month of the year.) I ran out of yarn in time for Christmas and my grandmother bound off for me and I sort of gave up knitting. Soon I took up counted cross stitch instead because I liked all the different colors and designs.

Here's a crosstitch piece I made for my other grandmother
when I was about 13. My aunt gave it back to me after
my grandmother died.
I took up knitting again in 2014 when I saw boot cuffs on Etsy and wanted some. I discovered YouTube videos that show you how to knit. The boot cuffs totally didn't work for me. I took a selfie of my first attempt and texted it to my college age niece. She nixed my fashion choice unequivocally. But by the time I realized it was a failure I was too curious to stop. The more I learned about knitting the more questions I had. Now I'm basically obsessed. I can't see a thing without wondering how I would knit that. 

When I was first learning again I saw a video that explained some of the most common problems for beginning knitters, such as picking up the needles in the wrong hands and knitting back the wrong way. I realized immediately what I did wrong as an infant that made that green scarf have all those button holes. And I understood why it mysteriously got wider in the middle. And I appreciated how my grandmother returned it to the right width and let me keep going with the idea I made it like that on purpose to work like a hood.

I knit full time now, for a living. I knit things based on ideas I want to try. I let people buy what I make because I need money buy yarn and needles. And also because some of the most fun-to-knit yarn is completely itchy to me. I can't wear any animal fibers. I'm straight up allergic to lanolin. I have a chemical sensitivity type reaction to the smell of the fabric store on cheap acrylic yarn. But if I order yarn online it is less likely to have an offensive odor. I can even knit with wool if it is the extra fine merino superwash kind with all the lanolin taken out of it.

I need to figure out how to make more money with knitting so I can not only buy yarn, but also pay my bills. Selling patterns, products, teaching? I don't know. I did a lot of commissions last Christmas. I liked collecting the money for the yarn up front.

I have learned to that put anything online is like pulling your boat up alongside the black schooner flying the skull and crossbones and volunteering to come aboard and scrub their deck and fix them all sandwiches. There is absolutely nothing in it for me and a lot in it for the online pirates. My other blog has been completely scraped and reposted with ads on it, things I have written have been plagiarized, my videos have been stolen and reposted with ads or put into compilation videos edited for a fee. This bothers me. My instinct is to retreat and not give away things other people will take to make money for themselves. But at the same time I like to share things I learn. I wouldn't be doing this at all if it weren't for others giving away their knowledge for free. I am not sure what I will do, but if I figure it out you will see it here.