Knitting - My Long Road to Happiness

I have a thing for knitting.  It has become an obsession and a therapeutic sanity saver. It's good for the brain. And it's actually very accessible once you take the time to relax and give it a try.

Beyond the actual act of knitting, there is a wonderful world of other knitters. A culture of friendly, generous, interesting people I had no idea existed before I knitted. It's not just for women, or grandmothers, or crazy cat ladies, or whatever image you have of knitters. It really is a craft for everyone - men, women, boys, girls, any age. Look around and you might notice knitters are everywhere - hiding, being out in public, and waiting to become knitters.

Long before I learned to knit, I was enamored with the vast displays of squishy colorful yarns at the local yarn store (not craft stores, but the lovely local shops that stock the most amazing fibers you can imagine).  That said, I was terrified to go into a yarn store because I knew I was 100% clueless about all those yarns, needles, and patterns. And too embarrassed to let anyone at the store know. 

I had zero idea where to start and didn't know any knitters in my family.  The needles were a mystery in themselves - what were all those different needles for and why? How would I ever figure out how to buy yarn? It's not like fabric where a yard is a yard.  There are weights, and mysterious labels, and needle sizes on the labels. I couldn't even buy a skein (what's a skein anyway?) and feel excited about its potential because I couldn't grasp the concept.

So, with gripping fear and lack of a proper push, knitting was on my someday, maybe if it falls into my lap back burner list.  I would just continue sewing with fabric since that was what I knew how to do. Then I got married to a man with a mother who loved to knit. Holiday presents were super exciting, but I still didn't ask her to teach me - we lived several states apart and there never seemed to be time. But at least I had a tiny window into that world that so eluded me.  

Then, my grandmother learned to knit at age 96.  Because she couldn't see well enough to make her hand-pieced quilts anymore.  She got frustrated with her knitting while visiting my parents, so my dad got online and learned to knit enough to help her fix her mistakes and frustrations.  He started making dishcloths and other little novelties. (Show-off.)

The final tipping point was my husband learning to knit.  He and my dad would sit around the kitchen table knitting and discussing how to make this or that stitch or decrease, or whatever jargon they were using.  How great, my dad and my husband knit now - I could just ask them to make me what I wanted.  But they said they didn't know how or their knitting wasn't that good yet. That made no sense to me. They were ruining my knitted dreams. Looking back, I think they were trying to motivate me. My husband stopped knitting once I took off with it and I teach my dad knitting things now.

Finally, it hit me (sometimes I'm a bit slow on these things), why was I not doing this for myself? So, I went to my local yarn store and signed up for a beginner's class. 

The class didn't cover as much as promised in the description, so the instructor said we could come back for follow-up classes.  I went back two weeks later after trying and practicing and getting frustrated and taking lots of notes and writing down all my questions.  I had just shy of an hour of the instructor’s time one-on-one and I walked out of there with so much confidence and happiness.  I could knit.  And purl.  And cast on and bind off.  And read a pattern.  And search online for guidance.  And she introduced me to ravelry (how many cumulative months of my life have been dedicated to zombie like drooling and searching on that site?)  I knew a little about needles and yarn.  Enough to get dangerous at least.  Probably one of the greatest things she taught me right up front that makes all the difference in a confident knitter - how to read my work.  And fix mistakes.

I finished my first scarf - an arduous month task probably.  But since then I can’t even count what I’ve made - sweaters, hats, afghans, shawls, socks, fingerless mitts, capes, toys, bags, dishcloths, cowls.  I learned in November 2014 and can't stop.  

Holding the needles and yarn, counting, thinking through each stitch of each pattern. That focus has pulled me through a lot of stressful times.  It makes me look forward to long car and plane rides. It's so comforting and easy to take a project or three everywhere I go.

If you've read this, I hope you will be inspired to go do some knitting.  Or learn. Or pick it back up.  Or pursue the craft that you have been longing to try buy haven't made room for in your life.