01 July 2008

A little bit of personal History

I learned knitting in grade school … back then, in the sixties in Germany, girls had to take needlework (Handarbeiten) classes which consisted of knitting and crochet instruction, while the boys had shop classes. I would have much rather taken shop than needlework – I was a tomboy. I didn’t do too well either, so I was happy when I changed over to high school where these classes were no longer part of the curriculum. A few years later, probably when I was about 15 or 16 years old, and I no longer remember why, I knitted myself a blouson-type sweater with a wide collar and in 3 colors! It turned out quite nicely, and I actually wore it several times (which was huge for me, because I was very insecure about wearing something I made myself).

I didn’t knit anything else for many years after that (marriage, moving to the US, divorce, 2nd marriage, etc.), until several years ago, I again started to make something out of the blue. This time I knit a dog sweater (I had a Doberman back then, and I felt sorry for her not having thick fur to keep her warm at night), and shortly after that – since I had yarn left over … a pair of crocheted socks, without a pattern, just by trying them on (the socks, not the dog sweater) and adjusting and ripping back and re-doing it. It was hideous acrylic yarn! The first sock turned out ok, wearable, but too loose, but since I didn’t try on the second sock (after all, I would remember how I did the first one, right?), I managed to put the heel on the side of the sock instead of where it should be! I still have these socks!!!

Then, again a hiatus of about 2 years. Then I started a crochet blanket, also acrylic, and finished it in a few months – it was a rather boring all-over pattern, and I did mess up attaching the border to it, but that’s only obvious if you actually count the border pattern repeats on each side. It’s dark red, and now protects a chair from cat-hair:

Of course, sometimes I forget to put it there:

I was quite proud of that blanket, actually. At that time I liked crochet more than knitting, so I crocheted a few doilies as gifts. I still have the sample doily:

And I crocheted a sweater for myself (background to doily above).

This sweater is very heavy, somewhat stiff and w-a-r-m. I still wear it sometimes when it gets really cold. It’s an all-over pattern that mimics knitted cables (but only at a distance of about 10 yards!)

That’s when I decided to turn to knitting, because it’s just … more elegant, and less stiff. Of course, I should have used bigger needles or thinner yarn, but at that time I just used what I had. Don't get me wrong, I think crochet can be beautiful in the form of lace, or decorations, but for garments, I prefer knitting. So I did a few easy knitting projects (scarves, placemat, a few hats, and stuff like that) to warm up. At that time (probably about 2002) I also started to read knitting books, and became more interested in different techniques. I decided to make my husband a sweater with an all-over cable pattern which took me a few months, but turned out quite well. I even seamed it together perfectly (the sweater itself is not perfect, and now I would use a different yarn, a different pattern and a different color! -- OK, a whole different sweater!).

After I asked him why he wasn't wearing it, he finally admitted that he did not like the collar and rolled hems, so I re-did these parts – which was easy, because by then I had read Elizabeth Zimmermann’s books. I love EZ! She taught me so much!

Since then I have been knitting (and buying knitting books) continuously, and have always one to three projects going (usually one sock project, one bigger/more complicated project, and one that’s in a boring phase). That’s pretty much my limit. I can’t understand how people have 20 or 30 WIPs going at the same time. Whenever I pick up a project after working on another one for a while, I have to read the instructions again, double-check where I left off, and just “get into it” again. It’s a mystery to me how someone can just switch between so many projects.

So that’s my knitting history … currently I am expanding my horizon by lace-knitting. After practicing a bit, I plan to design my own shawl. Just following a pattern all the time gets boring real quickly – I love to experiment and do my own thing – it’s the same with cooking … I only follow the recipe once, then I adjust it. (Never mind that this sometimes led to disaster …)

Other things I like: Cats ... and dogs (all animals, actually), reading, gardening, yoga, the TV series “Reaper”, and traveling (I’ve been to Tunisia, Italy, South Africa, France, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Canada).

Till next time.

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