Friday, September 26, 2008

What a stitch!


It started when I was 20. I was single and tending bar in the little river town, flirting with fishermen, mixing Bloody Marys (everything from scratch in that place--no premix crap, thankyouverymuch). My radar gathered the buzz, however. Local ladies felt threatened by my sudden, random appearance. Without kith, kin or kids, I was exotic behind the bar and the male patronage adored me. (I'll also add that what I lacked in cup size, I made up for with rocking legs and booty--this girl always had some junk in her trunk.)

When I rented the upstairs of an old farmhouse and planned to settle in for the winter months, I knew I had to extend the right hand of friendship to the Estrogen Set. That or suffer their glares and gossip. What to do?

Suburban Correspondent and Kalurah? You will love this. I picked up knitting. One of the waitresses at the bar taught me and I joined the Thursday Night Stitch n' Bitch. In essence, I killed 2 birds with one stone--I learned a life skill (knitting) and made friends with the local gals so they could sleep in peace at night knowing I had no designs on their boyfriends or husbands. Hunkered over the dining room table at L's house, Stella the Waitress taught me how to knit and purl while the women around me drank beer and spiked coffee while smoking cigarettes. Stella explained needle size, casting on, yarn weight and how to pick up a dropped stitch. Within weeks I tackled my first project--a hunting sweater made of thick brown wool yarn. Size 11 needles gripped in both fists, I poured myself into that project. It came along to the bar with me and I pulled it out in the afternoons between the lunch crowd and the after-work crowd. I knit in front of my TV and between classes at college. I grew addicted to the steady click of the needles, the way the long strand of yarn wrapped itself into the new texture, the soft scrape of the yarn beneath my palm. Never one to sit still for long, knitting was a balm to my soul--something to keep my hands busy while watching a movie or riding in a car. I fantasized briefly of knitting all my own clothes, becoming so skilled that I could sell my sweaters in craft stores--in reality, I was untalented and lacked the mental powers required for fancy patterns. I'd churn out reasonable, clearly homemade products and feel a little pride that I made that!

I never accomplished a complicated project--but I knit a striped sweater and a cable-knit sweater, several hunting sweaters, scarves and hats. In a closet you'll find a crate with needles and yarn, a couple almost-finished projects and a book of patterns. And maybe someday... but until then it remains a hobby from another time, Before Children. Perhaps when Mr. T turns 12 he'd like a hunting sweater from his mama to wear into the woods...

23 comments:

  1. I learned how to knit about a year ago... and I was quite addicted with a tub full of yarn and needles to prove it. But when I got pregnant I seemed to develop an anti~knitting craving. Weird. I am hoping it goes away as it's a great distraction during football season for a girl stuck in a house with three Colts fans!

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  2. Wait Green Girl! You HAVE done a complicated project...Remember I have one of your VERY BEST sweaters--the cream one with two black pilgrims knitted on it. I wear it each Thanksgiving with pride and think about our many years of friendship!

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  3. I learned to knit in high school. I've made a sweater for my husband, but mostly did sweaters for my daughter when she was young. Then it was on to sweaters for Cabbage Patch kids and American Girl dolls.

    Florida... Yarn in my lap? I also have boxes of yarn and needles in the closet.

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  4. Well-played! It was a good move, learning to knit.

    My aunt taught me when I was a teenager, and she taught me the European way (she learned when she lived in Iceland). I know that the day will come when my daughter learns (we're trying already, but she hasn't quite gotten the hang of it).

    Loved this story.

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  5. I love to knit and do it every day. I always have a simple project -- mostly scarves -- going, as I like to think (not count) while I knit.

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  6. I've never done anything so complicated as a sweater, but have made lots of scarves. It is a very soothing hobby.

    I'm very impressed with anything cableknit.

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  7. I just started to think about knitting this week. Must be that time of year. I only hope that I can pick up where I left off last year and not have to rip out a whole sweater to see where I am.

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  8. Thank you for giving me your links! I love the idea of a stich & bitch. I have no idea how to knit, but that sounds like so much fun!!!

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  9. I learned how to knit when I was 5. Forgot by the time I was 7.

    Still can't re-teach myself. But crochet....that, I can do.

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  10. So funny. Just like you said earlier in the week - we do have such similar life stories. I sold my tub of yarn and needles last year at a yard sale and was regretting it just the other day thinking that it would be a nice hobby to take up again.

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  11. I learned to knit but never to pearl. I also forget how to get the project off the needles!! I would have to wear a scarft with a knitting meedle attatched to the end!! LOL

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  12. I am amazed by knitters: the patience, skill, & talent to make clothing!!!

    And YES I would LOVE to come meet with your book club!!! Shoot me an email & let's set it up: jess (at) jessriley.com

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  13. What a great story! I've never been very patient with any craft that involves strings that can get tied up in knots. But I really admire other people's handiwork.

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  14. Whaddaya mean, before children? There's nothing better than knitting to use those "dead" minutes that come with childraising - sitting in the car waiting to pick up, waiting at lessons, the 5 minutes here and there that are all we get to ourselves. I keep kicking myself that I only started seriously knitting a year and a half ago - I really could have used this hobby the minute my first baby was born.

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  15. My grandmother taught me to knit, and I made a small misshapen rag. So she taught me to crotchet, which was much more fun. I made one side of a sexy bikini top. And that was all. Maybe I should add "crotcheting" to my list of things to do while stuck in traffic?

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  16. Sarah's sweater sounds WAY complicated. Pilgrims? You doth protest too much, acer of all things.

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  17. What a cool way to learn about knitting... you really can do it all, can't you?

    (This is me, jealous)...

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  18. What a brilliant plan you had. I am jealous. Maybe I'll take that up myself, it looks, I dunno, soothing somehow.

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  19. I have made a a hat and a few scarves - sweaters sound plenty complicated to me!

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  20. I used to cross stitch; knitting has escaped me so far. Several of my teacher friends knit. They even bring their work along to staff meetings!

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  21. I love this post. As a girl who usually gets along better with the husbands than the wives, I've had to make ammends enough to 'get it'.

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  22. I always wanted to learn to knit, but I am just too lazy! I do love to crochet--- it is that perfect way to justify sitting on my bum without feeling lazy.

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  23. I knew there was something else I liked about you..., I am a former bartender, too.

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