Last week while sitting on the cold bleachers during tennis lessons (inside thankfully) I was busy knitting the body of my newest cast on the Carbeth Cardigan.
A person asked “Are you knitting?”
Since I knit a lot in public, I often get this question.
“Yes, I am knitting, a sweater in fact. Do you knit as well?”
“No. I tried once as a child but was horrible at it and never tried again.”
Or sometimes the answer is:
“No, but I’ve always wanted to learn but I could never do that!”
“It’s so complicated!”
“I don’t have the patience.”
“I think I’d like it too much!”
To which I always reply: anyone can knit, if you want to.
Truly. Anyone can knit! (If the desire is there.) It’s just a series of steps and each one learned unlocks the next. Knitting is not everyone’s jam and that’s ok. It’s just one valuable skill that can have many beneficial side effects. Knitting builds community. Knitting provides an activity for busy hands without using our electronic devices. It’s meditative, can help with anxiety, stress and is good for our brains. Personally, I have a hard time waiting. Waiting in meetings, waiting at appointments, in the car, on vacation, for my children. Idle time where I’m not in control of what’s going on is so difficult. Knitting does not erase my discomfort entirely but it helps so much in those situations. The anxiety I have felt when in unpredictable situations is calmed by knowing I have my knitting. So, if I need to wait, I can wait. I’ve become more flexible. We live in a very demanding world with all manner of things calling our attention, time and resources. Knitting is a gift and a tool I have to manage all that comes my way. And it’s a gift I want to pass on to others.
A few things have come to light in the past couple of months, weeks, days:
I’m a sweater knitter.
Knitters tend gravitate to one type of garment or accessory. A sock knitter, a shawl knitter, hat or sweater knitter. When it’s time for me to cast on a new project, a sweater or cardigan is usually chosen. Hats are fun and quick; shawls are nice to have but with all that knitting, having a sweater at the end is more worth it. Socks are still something that remains to be knit. Identifying primarily as a sweater knitter is a recent revelation; it’s all part of getting to know who I am more as I get older.
I can trust my gut.
The first instinct to cast on a particular design is usually right, even if it takes a long time with many projects in between before it’s completed. This helps in realizing I can trust myself instead of questioning the choice and/or getting distracted by the new and pretty. Sweaters continually challenge me, teaching new skills with each designer’s choice of construction and methods but still allow for me to knit in my everyday life. A few projects are always on the needles at one time: an easier project that can go to meetings, knit night and fill in the other spaces of a day paired with a more technical project that requires my eye glasses and undivided attention. Depending on what stage a project is in, they can be interchangeable. There’s no monogamous knitting happening but there is an unspecified number of projects that can tip the scale from just right to overwhelming. At some point in time it’s best to cast off a few projects before beginning a new one.
When I finish a project, the question always asked is “How long did it take you to knit it?” and well, there’s never a direct answer. A year, but with 10 other projects in-between. A week? A month? Knitting isn’t a speed sport. It comes with me everywhere. In every project there’s a point where the knitting is nonstop. As if there’s nothing else on the needles and no other project to work on; no house work to do, no meals to cook or kids to take care of. It’s usually when the project is close to the finish line…or a deadline is looming or it needs to be on my body now!
I work well with deadlines but have a hard time self-imposing them.
I’d rather teach someone to knit than knit something for them. Teaching someone to knit is rewarding and enjoyable. You learn a lot about a person by the way they learn to knit.
I wear what I make. And each finished project gets better and better.
And now that the red sweater is done (it still needs to be blocked but I can’t stop wearing it!) the dreaming of a new sweater has already begun.