My Grandma King taught me to knit when I was young in early grade school. I remember how long it took me to perfect the stitches. Knit five rows, realize that you accidentally dropped or added several stitches and then rip them all out and start again. It was madening. Despite the fact that she was so patient and took as much time teaching me as I needed, I was an impatient learner, and after many attempts, had finally settled on the fact that maybe I was supposed to only be able to knit straight long rows. And what comes in straight long rows? SCARVES! So, I knitted as many hot pink scarves as my heart desired, but when no one in the family really wanted to wear them, I eventually gave up knitting.
It wasn’t until fall of 2004 that I came back to knitting. I don’t even remember why or who suggested it, but I do remember going out to Meijer’s to buy some cheap yarn and needles along with a Learn to Knit book. I had realized that it wasn’t the hot pink scarves that drove me away in the first place (or my brothers refusal to wear them), but it was the lack of variety. It was the fast that I hadn’t given Grandma King enough attention and tried to learn more than just knit one row, purl the next. I wanted to learn to make the slippers that she gave everyone in the family a pair of for Christmas (and you had better not wear through the bottom of them until next Christmas cause odds were you would have to wait and she wouldn’t give you more early). I wanted to learn to knit socks (and maybe be able to make a Christmas stocking just like Great Aunt Mary used to). I wanted to make myself a sweater just like the one Grandma King did when I was in grade school (I remember it being so big then and she told me not to worry cause I would grow in to it – I can still wear it to this day). I wanted to be a knitter, not just be able to knit.
I have to admit it was a bit intimidating, but with patience (more than I had in grade school), my practice started to pay off. First, I relearned scarves in lots of different yarns, then I mastered patterened potholders (oh boy!), then the slippers (in multiple sizes for my family and friends) just like Grandma King used to knit, then a baby blanket for my friend Jen’s newest addition to the family, then a hat and gloves for my friend Krishna (although she would have to have giant hands to be able to wear the gloves), etc. I was hooked. I knitted all the time, i.e. while watching tv, listening to music, doing dictations at work, talking on the phone. I realized that it calmed me. It silenced my mind after a long day of work. It focused my semi-ADD traits. It was my therapy! In all of this though there was one thing that still frightened me. Socks. And why you ask? Well, because socks involve knitting in the round on double pointed needles that are so small they look like toothpicks. With enough stuborness though, I bought the needles and yarn and off I went. I loved it. I don’t know what I was so scared of. It was so satisfying. Socks have so many things in them as far as stitches and complexity, but besides all that, who doesn’t like getting a handmade pair of socks from a friend (probably much more than a hot pink scarf right?)
So with the thought of this trip, when I asked Chris if I should take my knitting, he gave me this puzzled stare and then blurted out vehemently, YES! YES YOU ARE TAKING YOUR KNITTING. I was a bit shocked. He went on to explain that he also saw that it calmed and focused me and that going on a trip as stressful and long as this one that I should definately bring something to do. With the space limitations I decided that socks were my best bet and was glad that I had taken the time to learn how to make them. So, I have knitted three pair of socks so far on this trip and am working on my fourth. When I run out of yarn I find a store and pick some up. I have knitted with Spanish, British and German yarn now and couldn’t be happier (and neither could Chris for Lord knows what I would be like without my yarn therapy).
Grandma King passed on in 2000, and I still miss her, but I am sure she would have been happy that I picked up knitting again. I am sure she would also be shocked with how far I have come from the scary scarves I knitted so long ago.
Thank you Grandma King! I Love you!