When I was eight, one of my mom's friends taught me how to knit. Then, when we were both nine, my friend Sophia taught me how to purl. Middle school afternoons and weekends, I used to hang out at this yarn store near my school, picking up tips from the elderly, chain-smoking (It was a different time then, not a "great" one we should want again, but certainly different.) woman who ran the place. By ten, I had completed my first sweater, a pale-blue, fuzzy, box-shaped creation with white ribbing at the neck, hem, and cuffs.
I knit through high school and college and first jobs and grad school, creating some gems and some misshapen, bulky garments that only my mother could love. (Thanks, Mom.)
The last thing my closet needs is more sweaters, so I've switched to socks, slippers, infinity scarves, Christmas stockings, afghans. I've made charity hats and blankets for chemo patients and babies. I knit while watching TV, riding in planes, and listening at faculty meetings. I also love teaching little kids and their parents to knit. I love picking up people's dropped stitches, untangling their knotted messes, and explaining the cryptic symbols on printed patterns.
I know that I haven't answered the title yet. I've been thinking about it while I typed the first few paragraphs, but I still don't have a good explanation for why I knit. Here's the best I can come up with on this particular Wednesday.
I think it's cool to know how to make useful items out of humble yarn, how to give shape to the shapeless. I like making things that will last, things that can give people comfort, warmth, a barrier against whatever the world throws their way. While the finished product matters, I also love the process. My active fingers can slow my racing mind. When I'm producing with yarn, I'm not wasting my time on whatever else I'm doing, even if that's just watching the next episode of Lucifer on Netflix.
In my life, knitting has shaped more than the fiber. I have challenged my creativity by changing or crafting patterns to satisfy the demands of style. I can add a hood or make a flattering hemline. I have learned patience in pulling apart knots. I have gained resilience in ripping rows to redo my mistakes. And I have shared joy in giving my wares to those I love.
I guess the real question for me would be, Why would anybody not knit (or knot knit)? If you want me to teach you, I'm here. If you have a hobby (weak word for such a powerful skill) with similar strengths, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.
by Carita Gardiner