Saturday, April 23, 2011

Why I Love Knitting

Knitting. It seems to have made something of a comeback in recent years. We're no longer required to knit our clothes or go without, it's now a leisurely pass-time enjoyed by millions. Luxury commercial yarns made from interesting man-made fibres have flooded the market and new tools are coming out all the time.

Still, it's essentially the same as it has always been. Fibres, needles, and the same two stitches - knit and purl.

image via flickr
I love knitting history. It feels so good to be able to do something that’s so tied to the past it’s hardly changed over centuries in spite of all our modern technology. Gets me all giddy and excited - as someone who often feels like I have no roots, no origin, that is why I love knitting.

image via pinterest
I want to learn everything about knitting and spinning history. I'm fascinated by the dyes extracted from native plants and how the colours translated a garment through the traditional stitch patterns into functional, beautiful works of art. I'm so in love with the idea that a simple pair of mittens could be so meticulous and gorgeous and yet be just what the recipient needs to keep warm while doing the most mundane of tasks. I love that despite having so little in the way of material goods, such care was taken to bring beauty into the every day.

My mother first taught me to knit when I was around 11 years old. A pair of red plastic needles and a big ball of navy blue acrylic were my first tools. Mom knew a rudimentary cast-on and the knit stitch, and I set to work "making stitches" and knitting. I cast on as many stitches as I could fit on the length of the needle and knit what seemed like miles of yarn. Mom didn't know how to "take the yarn off the needles without it unraveling", but it didn't matter much to me. After knitting the entire skein, I scooched the stitches off the end of the needle, unraveled everything and began all over again. At 16, I picked up a book from the library, and taught myself. I devoured the basics and have not looked back.

Knitting with real wool for the first time was the most fabulous feeling. I instantly felt connected, like I was a part of something - a long line of people who, for the length of the yarn they were using, experienced time slow down and really felt the gorgeous drape, the strength and warmth of making something with their hands.

Learning to spin was another, more intense experience for me. Going to Olds College and taking the Master Spinner's classes added an extra layer to my love of the fibre arts. To actually put your energy into twisting fibres into useful, beautiful yarn gives you a new appreciation for the craft. Sitting and spinning surrounded by others who loved and understood it the way I did fed my heart, so to speak.

image via pinterest

So often handmade items go under appreciated. You can buy a sweater at Walmart for seven dollars, so why take fifty hours to make one? Socks come in packs of twenty, why bother learning to turn a heel?

My answer? Because there's joy to be found in it. To engage the mind and hands, to take the time while everyone around you extols the virtues of the instant and the disposable gives you pride. How many things in your life can you point to and say "Hey, I made that."?


  1. Fuck. Yes.
    This was such a wonderful entry. I feel ya, babe.

  2. reading this made me want to START knitting! :)


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