27 May 2006

The beginnings: c. 1980-1991

Let's see. Grandma taught me to crochet one day, a very long time ago. It didn't stick. Then Auntie Betty taught me to knit, some time not much later. That I liked better. I vaguely remember a doll blanket, maybe a doll scarf. And there was this washcloth (left). I started it with my Aunt Betty's help when I was still in elementary or middle school. I got halfway through, to the point where I needed to stop increasing and start decreasing, and didn't see my aunt again for a while, so I got stuck and didn't know how to finish. I found the half-finished washcloth again after I had started grad school, moved to NYC, and gotten into knitting again (c. 2001). I decided that I then knew enough to finish it, and did so very quickly. Alas, I knew something, but not quite enough to make the other corner of the square washcloth -- I decided I needed to decr on each end of every row. So the "square" finished up rather too quickly in its second half. Luckily, washcloths are always useful, no matter how ugly, and this one gets regular use. And now I've made several others, of proper proportions, as well as the cool flower-shaped washcloths from Weekend Knitting. But back to Antie Betty, and the glory days of the 1980s. She actually let me use her knitting machine to make another, much nicer doll blanket. It was an astonishing experience, which I still remember fondly. But nothing besides the washcloth got preserved from this era, and that's probably for the best. I can date it precisely to the half-way point of the washcloth that I got distracted by finger knitting, and cross-stitch, and "Indian beadwork" and candlewicking and jewelry-making, and stuffed-animal-sewing, and....then Mrs. Aked, who worked in the library and really was from the Sherwood Forest -- the one in England and everything -- taught a "mini-course" on knitting in 8th grade. We made samplers, little separate swatches with different stitch patterns. I stapled mine to a piece of cardboard, labeled the patterns, and cherished the relic for some years to come (though not long enough - don't know where it is, now). But I finished quickly, and Mrs. Aked got me started on a Real Project. I made slippers -- the kind that are knit in a rectangle, and then you run your yarn through the stitches on the last row and pull to make the toe. I was forced to put pom-poms on the toes, too. I think I even wore them for a while. They're lost now, too. I don't know if it was the pom-poms, or high school, or what, but that's the last thing I remember knitting until I went to Norway.

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