How DID I start? (Knitting and Crocheting Blog Week)

How and when did you begin knitting/crocheting? was it a skill passed down through generations of your family, or something you learned from Knitting For Dummies? What or who made you pick up the needles/hook for the first time? Was it the celebrity knitting ‘trend’ or your great aunt Hilda?

Nona and Baba both did all kinds of needlework. They lived down the road from us and were the only sitters I ever had. Nona spoke Italian and Baba spoke Russian–they could manage some mangled English, so it was simpler to teach me in Italian or Russian. They would give me yarn and needles and scraps of fabric and Iwould keep myself happily busy for hours.
My mother was a good work-a-day seamstress but had no love of sewing. Mark’s mother knitted, as did Carrie’s mother. They were both just a school bus trip away, so I spent afternoons with all of them, learning how to knit. I think I made a sweater in fifth grade (probably a red one) and then a horrendously itchy blue mohair cardigan in eighth grade.  it was my first experiment in cables and being mohair, wasn’t the kind of project I could readily look at and see if I was off or right or anything. (Last mohair project in my lifetime.)

The next little project was matching apricot angora cardigans, one for me and one for my sister. I had found enough pretty cream and apricot plaid to make A-line skirts. (And yes, the plaids matched at the seams.)

I remember that project used little needles and was knitted during my religion classes. I made a number of very fine, beaded handbags during botany and geology, physics and geography classes. Philosophy and stat classes? More knitting.

I also took knitting projects in 4-H, along with sewing and needlework.  I’ve always needed handwork to keep me on task; I’m one of those people who cannot listen in a meeting unless my hands are busy. I’ve had more than one teacher/principal/speaker/officer single me out for not paying attention. Since I was, I can repeat back word-for-word about 30 minutes of the meeting; so usually after that one little run in, I’m left alone.

I like knitting baby things and lace. There’s not much in-between. Socks? Not really. Sweaters? Not especially. I do manage to make an afghan every year. I probably spent the last 20 years seriously knitting. I rarely use patterns, only because someone was always needing a sweater right now only because it was something I could do that would both fit (my children were fussy about the neckline and the way the sleeves fit) and keep them warm. When I was really poor, I’d go to a thrift shop, find an adult sweater, unravel it, wind it into hanks, soak it in baby shampoo, let it dry and re-wind it. I could get a sweater done over the weekend.

I rarely stash, only because I’m not truly a knitter. I honestly like cross stitch, sewing and needlework better because I’m not making the fabric AND the garment at the same time.  I have a master muslin, which is sort of a flat pattern with every measurement possible on it for everyone I knit for. That way, I can knit and compare what I’m making with what it is supposed to look like.  Less gnashing of teeth.


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