On Knitting

A few weeks ago, while I was cleaning I found a knitting book that I bought some years back in a burst of optimism,  thinking I was going to be all crafty and stuff. But who has time for that sort of thing? This time, though, I figured I might as well give it a whirl. I went to Fred Meyer, bought a skein of yarn (in fern, I think – a color very similar to a sweater I had as a child) and a pair of needles, and started in on the book. Which sucked, at least for me; but all of that is in my knitting book reviews, including my notes about other books I’ve tried, am reading now, and am thinking about reading later. That’s not what I wanted to write about.

The process of knitting is interesting for me, and I’m glad I started it up. For one thing, it’s a good experience in learning something totally unfamiliar, and being bad at it for a while, and experimenting with techniques to get better. In some ways, I’m practicing failure in a safe environment. If I totally muff binding off a test piece, and end up tossing the whole thing, or have a few backwards rows or WTF happened to those stitches, it’s all okay, as long as I keep trying.

I imagine I’m building my spatial skills in particular – the part that’s been most difficult is translating text and drawings into fingers, needles, and yarn. Each book has slightly different descriptions of each technique, so I find myself jumping back and forth until I find one that makes sense in my head. Alas, the only casting on technique that I can make sense of doesn’t seem to make for a particularly nice edge. I may need to get help in person.

I’m trying to stick with inexpensive yarn, but I’m also discovering how cheap is too cheap. The first yarn I tried worked fairly well, but the second one (teal), not so much. I got a piece done, but it felt like fighting the whole time, and the same with that borked test piece I mentioned earlier. (I should get a picture of that. The basketweave look was pretty cool.) Yesterday I bought yarn from an actual yarn shop: Cascade Pacific in Ginger. It’s so soft! And easier to work, as far as I can tell, either that or I’m getting better at maintaining appropriate tension.

All my life I’ve been a fidget. Notoriously, when I did the speech competition for Academic Decathlon in high school, I was required to remove all my jewelry (and I wore a lot more then) because otherwise I’d just work my way through playing with Every Single Piece. To this day, I have to consciously stop myself from worrying at buttons, zippers, earrings, etc; at my desk, I have a fidget toy made of safety pins that I worry at basically all day long.

Turns out knitting is like fidgeting, only you end up with a scarf (or whatever) at the end of it; perfect for watching TV or for being a passenger on a long drive. And I find it both relaxing and oddly compulsive.

What this hobby doesn’t help with: my poor overworked hands. It’s more of the same small finger movements as working on the computer, which is probably why it’s a good match with fidgeting. But I definitely should be pacing myself!