This week finds me trying to finish off several projects. I have been knitting gifts for various people ( can’t be more specific than that!) and trying to fulfill obligations at cookie swaps, fundraising auctions, and so on. It keeps me busy, and allows me to indulge myself in one of my favorite activities: baking. I think that I am one of those project-oriented people who get a lot of satisfaction from producing a finished project of almost any kind. Cooking, sewing, knitting, and gardening all produce a product. This is at least part of what I love about my favorite pastimes. These activities also allow me time to think, which can be both good and bad. . .
I had a disturbing thought in the last week or so. I have been knitting for almost 50 years. Ack!! I was perhaps 7 or 8 when my grandmother showed me how to knit. I remember making the obligatory garter stitch scarf, and laboring over it for many weeks. This thing was full of holes and mistakes, but that is how I learned. I had plenty of time for practice. We had an apple tree in the back yard at that time, and I remember sitting up in the tree during the summer with my friend Nancy, knitting and talking for hours. I made my first sweater (purple) when I was 12. I also learned how to make mittens at that time, and how to knit with 2 colors. I remember my mother showing me how to read knitting patterns, and a few basic things. She is a competent knitter, but she didn’t do much of it that I remember, except a sweater for my brother and one for my father. Most of what I know about knitting I learned from books, and from trial and error. There were lots of errors. One of my first real successes was an Icelandic sweater that I made for my dad when I was about 14. He kept and wore that sweater until about 10 years ago, when I finally had to make him another one because the old one could no longer be repaired. Everyone in my family has a number of things that I made for them-I hope that they enjoy wearing them as much as I enjoyed making them. There is something about seeing the patterns develop that fascinates me, and this is probably the main reason that I knit. It also has to do with being able to make something functional (as opposed to needlepoint, which is purely decorative), and with having something to occupy my hands. Another reason that I make things is that I always feel like I want to be able to give something unique to the people I care about, and this is the most affordable way I know to do that. Knitting fits the bill on multiple levels: it’s practical, functional, beautiful, historic, ethnic, social, engaging, intellectually stimulating, and (when I’m not repairing a mistake) FUN. I could say the same thing about kiltmaking.
With best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season,