I Like Knitting


I like knitting. It’s predictable. The rules are clearly defined, and if I make a mistake I can just rip it out and knit it over. It’s an infinitely forgiving pastime. I peruse the knitting patterns on Ravelry like a glutton at an all-you-can eat buffet.

Once, while stopped in traffic, I was happy to discover a fellow knitophile in the car in front of me; their bumper sticker proclaimed, “I knit so I don’t kill people.” Only another knitter would understand.

I first learned to knit from my grandmother (who was never in danger of killing anyone, until my grandfather retired and hung around the house all day). My mother was never a knitter, having been too busy working long hours to bring in enough income to keep us both alive. She didn’t have spare time for anything that that did not anesthetize her from the daily grind. Knitting would have worked well in that way; however, knitting, purling, and alcohol do not mix well. At least not if you want to produce anything wearable.

One day when I was about 8, my grandmother produced a basic set of straight needles, along with some cheap acrylic yarn she had picked up from the thrift store, and patiently taught me the basics. Happily, knitting is really nothing more than slight variations on two basic stitches. If you can knit and purl, you’re 90% there.

The first project I remember trying to make, after my early attempts at scarves, is a sweater, which is far too ambitious for a beginning knitter. My stitches were uneven and far too tight, so what I ended up with was something better fitted for a doll than a human being. After that disastrous attempt I put my needles away for another two decades.

My knitting supplies were exhumed once more when I was pregnant for the first time, at age 42. By then, I was as old as my grandmother had been when my mother was pregnant with me. Although she was an ocean away, I felt my grandmother beside me as I knit a blanket for my new little human. I had no idea what I was doing, either as a knitter or as an expectant mother. I was hoping I would make fewer mistakes with the baby than I did with knitting the blanket. Luckily, both turned out ok.

I love the way knitting is so rhythmical, like a heartbeat. Knit, knit, purl, purl, knit, knit, purl, purl — a mantra of sorts. Repeat it enough times and you achieve a blissful state of mindful attention. Problems and annoyances fly out the window with each click and clack of the needles. I adore the feeling of a soft stretchy merino yarn as it glides through my fingers, or even a good acrylic for that matter. None of that scratchy yarn, though. That stuff’s only good for the sheep who originally wore it or men named Sven who live on fishing trawlers. Although not as bad as some knitters I know, my yarn stash is threatening to take over my bedroom. I just can’t resist buying soft yarns in a rainbow of rich, earthy colors or jewel tones. I might actually find uses for all of them one day.

At the approach to each holiday season I contemplate new knitting projects with which to burden my friends and family. The poor dears never know what random piece of knitwear they will receive. When I run out of people, I begin knitting items for inanimate objects. For example, I have just completed knitting a cosy for my teapot and one for my hot water bottle. I have sworn to people, however, never to gift them a traditional British holiday jumper. Still, it’s better than receiving a fruitcake.

One thought on “I Like Knitting

  1. “I knit so I don’t kill people.”

    This reminded me that, back in the mid-80s when we lived in Finland, we occasionally saw young soldiers knitting. Finland then had universal male call-up and we were living in Kouvola – a little town in the south-east. It was towards the Russian frontier and there were – I think – two army bases near the town. Both on the train to and from Helsinki and in Helsinki station I remember seeing young draftees – gangly 19-year-olds with savagely shaved heads and heavy military uniforms – sitting about, knitting.

    There´was a bit of a fashion for it then in Scandi, Agneta tells me. I don’t remember that, but I do remember their concentration. I never decided what they were knitting for – whether it was winter gloves for themselves or woolly hats for their babies or relatives. But it struck me as an excellent activity for young soldiers. Knitting, they weren’t killing anyone.


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