Wednesday, December 9, 2009

She knits!

Well looky here, I knitted something! Woot! When I visited my family at Thanksgiving, my sister asked me if I could make her a cup cozy or two. I said yes, figuring it would be a quick-to-crochet project, but after I got home and started thinking about it, I was overcome with the urge to dust off my knitting needles and see what I could do.

Knitting and I go way back. I always wanted to learn how to knit, and when I was pregnant with my first baby (13 years ago already!) I thought it's now or never. I signed up for an evening class that met once a week for 6 weeks, through January and February, and I dragged my first-trimester-nauseous self there through sleet and snow. I wanted to make a baby blanket, but the instructor said "You won't learn anything making a blanket! Make a baby sweater!" When I told her I wasn't sure what size to make because I didn't know how big a baby was, I got the impression she thought I was a hopeless case, both for knitting and mothering.

I realized very quickly that I am a very slow knitter. By the time the class ended I had less than half of the sweater pieces knit. I hadn't done anything tricky yet, like making buttonholes or picking up stitches. I ended up having to do all that on my own, without the teacher's guidance. I worked as a reference librarian at that time, so on quiet afternoons I'd pull knitting books from the shelves and study them carefully, writing notes to myself, puzzling out the pattern. Through the spring and the hot summer months in my un-airconditioned home, I propped my increasingly swollen ankles up on any elevated surface I could find and knit, knit, knit. I was shocked and proud when I actually finished the sweater before the baby was born (just barely!). I felt slightly dazed by what I had accomplished (both baby and sweater).

Over the next few years I tried to make a blanket for my newborn nephew and a little elfin hat for my toddler son, but I never got very far. Knitting required too much concentration, and with two small children to care for, I didn't have any concentration to give to knitting. I didn't understand how the stitches went together, and I could not fix mistakes. I had to be so careful to do it perfectly, otherwise it was all over. Knitting was too frustrating, so I gave it up.

Until last week, when I decided to knit a cup cozy. I searched on ravelry to find a simple pattern. I found my needles and selected some yarn. I was absolutely shocked when, after one quick glance at my notes from my knitting class, I remembered how to cast on. Look at me, I'm casting on! The pattern is a simple ribbing of k2,p2. I struggled a bit at first because I forgot to move the yarn to the front for purl, but then it all came back to me. Knit knit, purl purl, knit knit, purl purl. I was in the zone. I was slow, but I was definitely in the zone. I only had to knit 2.5 inches. I was at 2 inches and feeling pretty celebratory when, OMG, I made a mistake. I made a mistake! What do I do? How do I fix this? I don't even know what I did wrong!!!! I hate knitting I hate knitting I hate knitting! I am so not a knitter! I flipped through my two knitting books, feeling panicked. The instructions made no sense. It was all words and smug diagrams, taunting me from the page. Argh!

And then I remembered that you can get all kinds of video help online these days. I pulled myself together and sat down at the computer. I watched a couple of videos, then watched them again. I realized my best course of action was to frog back two rows, and put my stitches back on the needle. This has always confused the heck out of me because I don't understand how the stitches must sit on the needle, but the videos boosted my confidence, and I figured I had nothing to lose. So frog I did, and then very painstakingly, with sweat on my brow and curse words on my lips, I put the stitches back on the needle. I held my breath and started to knit across the row. To my astonishment, it worked! It actually worked! Hooray! I continued on my merry way, and a mere six hours after I started it, I had successfully made one 2.5 inch cup cozy. Whew!

Now what knitting project shall I tackle next? I think it had better be something small.


Leila said...

You realise this post belongs on some very high traffic knitting site. It's awesome in it's description of what it feels like to be a novice-in-a-panic who triumphs!


Glenda said...

Cute cozy!! Love the colors.

I don't knit (or crochet). They've both been on my want-to-learn list for ages. I was looking for 100% organic cotton knit hats for my guys for Christmas, but waited too long to order from Etsy sellers. Maybe that'll inspire me to learn how to knit in the early part of 2010 :).

Lynn said...

GO You!! That turned out great.

Socks and mittens! You must progress to socks and mittens.