Someone referred to me as a “mad knitter” today and I had to agree with the description. I knit almost every day. On the days when I don’t knit, there’s generally something wrong: I’m ill, or I’ve hurt my neck/shoulder, or my arms and hands are hurting from too much knitting, and so on. And then there are the very rare occasions when I’ve been out all day and simply haven’t had time to knit.
I don’t really remember when I started knitting. I’m pretty sure I was taught as a child, probably by my sister, Andie, and I know my mother encouraged me to take up knitting and tapestry when I was a teenager to stop me from picking at my pimples while I was watching TV (it was an unconscious habit). The first item I remember completing was a jumper I knitted for myself when I was 19 or 20. By the time I finished it, I couldn’t stand the sight of it, so gave it to a friend. I knitted sporadically for the next 10 years or so – the odd item here and there, things for myself that I never finished, or finished but never wore. The serious, daily knitting started (I think) when Mark & I were first going out. I remember his puzzlement and frustration that I could sit and knit while watching a movie – he’s used to it now.
Having children is a knitter’s dream. So many cute, small (which equals quick!) projects to work on! Bootees, little jumpers and cardis, toys … the list goes on. I really hit my stride while I was pregnant with Finn and I’ve knitted more stuff for he and Leila than I can remember. When Finn was little I was more prepared to take on complicated knits but, as the he and Leila have got older and I’ve become used to the fact that most things will only be worn for a year or two, I’ve tended to go for simpler patterns that can be completed more quickly.
I’m often complimented on my knitting at the kids’ school. Being a Steiner school, skill in hand crafts in valued and it makes a nice change from people looking at me like I’m slightly crazy for bothering to knit jumpers and socks for my children, when they can be purchased cheaply at chain stores (where I still buy the bulk of their clothes anyway). Still, I feel like a bit of a fraud when people wax lyrical over something I’ve made. I don’t design the things I knit; I use patterns created by others. As I said above, I no longer try to knit complicated or tricky things, I stick to simple patterns. I don’t knit Fairisle or Intarsia; stripes are as complex as my colour knitting gets. Other than that, I rely on variegated yarns to provide colour variation. I don’t spin or dye my own yarn, or favour hand spun or dyed yarns; I use commercially produced yarns, mostly sourced from Spotlight. I don’t make a particular effort to use pure wool, or all natural fibres; I like to knit with cotton in the warm weather and acrylic or natural and man-made mixes in the cold weather.
In short, I don’t feel like there’s any real art in what I do when I knit. In many ways, I’m simply a machine, reproducing other people’s art.
So, why do I knit? Simply because I enjoy it. It’s become such a habit now that to sit in front of the TV without a set of needles and yarn just feels wrong. I like the way children look in hand knits. I get great satisfaction from finishing an object and seeing it worn. For me, it’s fun.