Thursday, June 22, 2006


My hands are feeling a bit better, but I've gotten still very little actual knitting done. So, instead, I thought I'd give you a little knitting autobiography.

It's a wonder I didn't knit as a kid. I grew up in California, but had lived in New England until the age of six, and I always missed having a real fall, real sweater weather. When I went back to college in New England, I was overjoyed at the prospect of sweaters and scarves and hats and ... well, yarn should have been on that list, but wasn't. Knitting wasn't quite cool yet and I had (horrors!) politely hidden away the dorky "learn to knit" kit my mom gave me halfway through high school. There I was, in love with the products of knitting but without the skills to make them myself. It was only a matter of time.

I started knitting about three and a half years ago, when Coffeeboy and I were long distance. I was in the second year of my master's degree, and he was in the first year of his PhD program, several states away. We met during my first year and his second year, dated for half a year, and then he moved and we started an LDR.

I spent a lot of time on the phone with him, usually fiddling uselessly with things on my desk, or folding laundry, always hooked into a hands-free device. One evening, I was at my friend Greta_Jane's apartment, and she was knitting a scarf for her then-boyfriend. (An Irish hiking scarf, perhaps?) Suddenly, I wanted to learn to knit! In the course of an evening, she and her roommate taught me to knit. I was hooked. Within days, I bought a book and learned to purl, starting a ribbed scarf so that I wouldn't be afraid of purling. (When I confessed how I don't really like purling, she exclaimed in great frustration, "We taught you purling early so this wouldn't happen!" I still think she had a good idea to start me off that way, though.) Instead of fiddling with my desk, I now had a much more pleasant activity to pursue.

I graduated, and followed Coffeeboy to his new home, where I took a year off from school and worked in an academic library in the area. I knit scarves and hats, mostly, and branched out into sweaters, with two lousy attempts that are never worn today. My stitches were tight and I enjoyed having to go up to bigger needles to get gauge. ("If the needles are bigger, it'll take less time," I thought.) The thought of anything below, well, a size 5 (if I recall correctly) terrified me. Socks? Too small! Lace? Too thin!

Somewhere in the last two years, I applied to graduate school, was accepted into my first choice, got engaged, moved away from Coffeeboy, started my PhD program, planned a wedding and got married. I switched to continental knitting, and my stitches have loosened up considerably, especially on smaller needles. I knit (in the short list) a sweater fits perfectly, novelty yarn scarves for my five bridesmaids, a sweater for Coffeeboy, several pairs of socks, a lace shawl... Small needles no longer terrify me; lace amazes me, and socks are the joy of my feet and my solace during, ahem, drier lectures and talks at school. I'm glad I've branched out into new skills; it was only a matter of time. And it still is a matter of time: too much to knit, and much too little time!

Postscript: The zucchini say: Don't forget us! We take extraordinarily little time to grow very, very large and even less time to eat, including the big three-pounder! (Yes, I weighed the big one in back. It's 3 lbs and way too big. The little one up front is the perfect size).


Julia said...

Nice story! I learned to knit in grad school, too. I have to do a questionnaire before I graduate, which asks what my best experience in grad school was. I will write "Learning to knit." I'll bet they've never heard that before!

Coffeeboy said...

those zuchinis are monsters!