my size 19 bamboo knitting needles from ChiaoGoo
I learned how to knit when I was about 10 years old from my mother’s mother, my grandmother. For as long as I can remember, she would always have a pair of knitting needles or a crochet hook and yarn with her almost everywhere she went. I have several afghans that she knitted or crocheted over the years. And at 89, you will continue to find her crocheting – mostly baby blankets for my nephews. I didn’t do much with knitting after the summer that she taught me, but I did remember bits and pieces of what she told me.
In 2009, I had a desire to pick up knitting again. I bought a “teach yourself how to knit” kit, some yarn, and a few extra needles to get started. That year, I completed one project and started one, which was put down shortly after starting it. Whatever I thought knitting would do for me, it wasn’t doing, so I just stopped. In 2010, while I was preparing to go up to NJ for the holidays, I decided that I might as well bring my knitting stuff with me. Afterall, I would be in NJ for a week, staying at my condo alone. And when I wasn’t visiting with family and friends, I would need something to do, that did not involve eating, shopping, or watching TV. It turned out to be a very smart decision.
While I was visiting New Jersey over Christmas, a blizzard (or near blizzard) decided to come for a visit dumping 5 to 6 feet of snow on us. Needless to say, I was condo-bound for a couple days and needed something to do – that wasn’t eating or watching TV, and reading wasn’t on the top of my to do list. It was the perfect opportunity for me to try knitting again. I found my knitting groove that week. I managed to finish 1 unfinished project and complete 2 short scarves from start to finish. When I was no longer condo-bound, I went out and bought a bunch more yarn to bring back to DC with me.
I got back to DC and the year of the scarf started. I decided that many of the important women in my life would be getting a handmade scarf in 2011. In general, I’ve always felt that there are few things better than receiving a handmade gift. You can visually see and emotionally feel the thought that went into the gift. A handmade gift may not cost a lot of money, but in my years of giving handmade gifts know, they generally take a lot of time. The giving of time to make the gift is what makes it difficult to put a price on a handmade gift and makes it so special. The year of the scarf started by making scarves for my mother and sister for their birthdays. They were the first 3 scarves that I made in 2011. I had a lot of fun making the scarves and the act of knitting was very calming and relaxing. Seeing how much my mom and sister liked the scarves when I gifted them cemented why I wanted to keep making and giving them away.
Lion Brand Yarn (clockwise from top left): Fun Fur Orchid, Fun Fur Prints Tropical, Homespun 329 Waterfall
A few weeks into the new year, I started my yoga teacher training and I was the knitting yogini. Training was held almost every weekend (Saturday and Sunday) from February through mid-April. And I would bring my knitting with me to the yoga studio. It was almost guaranteed that you could find me in the yoga studio’s tea lounge for almost an hour every morning of training – knitting. And during the week between training weekends, I would pull out my knitting to help me relax. Over the course of my 200 hr certification, I completed 13 scarves and 2 wraps. I found that I would get lost in my knitting. It was like sitting in meditation.
I’m still only at a point where I knit and pearl – so I make many scarves or wraps that I can do with either a stockinette or a garter stitch, and garter tends to be my favorite. I find it to be the most relaxing and meditative, since I can get lost in the repetition of the movement and I don’t have to think about changing the stitch. It’s the same reason why I haven’t ventured into patterned pieces or shapes yet. (One of these days, I’ll try to make a pair of sock slippers. When I do, you can expect that it will find it’s way here.) The repetition allows me to become aware of where I am, aware of my breath, and aware of my thoughts. It’s not quite the same as sitting down for samatha meditation, but still requires finding a comfortable seat and physically stilling the body.
I started a new project – another wrap – after teacher training over Easter weekend. Without teacher training, it took me much longer to finish the project – picking it up and putting it down many times over the last 4 months. Although the need for the meditative benefit still exists, I have not made the time to pick up my knitting needles. However, it seems like kickstarting my knitting goes hand in hand with severe weather conditions. Due to Hurricane Irene passing through the DC area, all of my weekend plans were cancelled or postponed until later in the weekend (Saturday to Sunday) or to later in the fall and I all of a sudden had a completely free weekend to do whatever I wanted. Spending the early morning hours blogging about passions colliding and catching up with a friend over breakfast, I spent the afternoon and evening hours, knitting up a storm.
pattern of finished wrap (used size 19 knitting needles; see below for instructions)
made a cuff with the yarn i had leftover (used my size 17 knitting needles for this)
The rainy Saturday was the perfect weather to help bring awareness and calm back to my mind and my body. I finished the wrap, which I really do love, and made a cute wrist-cuff with the leftover yarn. (I’m hoping I have enough of the three yarns left to make a second cuff for a pair or possibly make a muff. I think they’ll be fun in the fall or winter.) This morning the rain continues, but is expected to stop in a few hours. After breakfast and maybe a nap, I plan to pick up another unfinished project and continue knitting up a storm.
How did you ride out the storm? What did you do while being stuck inside the house all day?
Instructions for Wrap (modified from a 2-hr shawl pattern I found on Lion Brand’s website)
Materials: 3 skeins each of Lion Brand Fun Fur Orchid and Lion Brand Fun Fur Prints Tropical; 1 skein Lion Brand Homespun 329 Waterfall (if this color scheme doesn’t suit you, select complimentary yarn shades using the same ratios: 1 Homespun yarn and 3 each of 2 different Fun Fur yarns)
Knitting needles: size 19 for wrap
Instructions: Pull yarn together from each of the three yarns to create one thread. Cast on 20-22 stitches based on desired width. Knit each row until wrap reaches between 68 and 72 inches long. Bind off after reaching the desired length.
To make the cuff, I followed the same approach, using size 17 needles and casting on 7 stitches. I then knitted each row until I reached the desired length to fit around my wrist and bound off the project. I used a plastic needle and the ends of the yarn to sew the two ends together to create the cuff. I think that 16 to 18 stitches and the size 17 needles would have resulted in a cute muff. I may be trying to make one of those later today. Happy Knitting!