Monday, October 16, 2006

10 Knitterly Things About Me

Last month, Grumperina listed "10 Knitterly Things You Didn't Know About Me" and challenged others to do the same. This is my attempt at the list, but I don't know how far I'll get.

1. It's all Martha Stewart's fault. About 10 years ago, I took a weaving class at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and took one of my projects home to tie off the ends. It was a revelation. Not the weaving so much as the "I can do something while watching TV or listening to NPR!" Since I didn't have a loom at home, I tried all kinds of crafts -- mainly cross stitch and wreaths -- and devoured craft magazines, including Martha Stewart Living. One of the issues included knitting instructions and a pretty (and very plain) scarf. I tried it and failed. For some reason, I thought it might be the fault of bad instructions. My mother, who hadn't knit in 30 years, showed me the very little that she remembered and bought me a book: Learn to Knit in Just One Day. It took more than a day, but I've never looked back. And I never cross stitched again.

2. It took something like 2 years before I could see the difference between the knit and purl stitches. I'm pretty dim.

3. Aside from that, knitting just made sense to me from the very beginning. While there was gnashing of teeth, tears, sweat and recriminations, I never wanted to give it up. Ever. Ok, there was that one second I thought I might take up crochet instead when I couldn't figure out how to do that stupid purple ripple afghan (what was I thinking?), but I persevered. And never learned to crochet.

4. I hate to teach knitting and I'm not good at it. I'll do it because I'm all about spreading the gospel, but I just don't have a lot of patience. It's not knitting specifically that I can't teach, I'm really not a teacher.

5. I've only taken one knitting class (on knitting Fair Isle the Philosopher's Wool way). I seem to learn better from books and doing. That could be part of my problem with teaching.

6. I hate knitting scarves and baby blankets. I'll make them, but only under duress or a sense of obligation. Unfortunately for me, it isn't hard to make me feel either duress or obligation.

7. I love knitting needles. All of them. Straights, circulars, and double points. Straight needles are so...knitterly, when you think "knitting" doesn't your mind just go right to straight needles? And I love the rhythm I get into with double points, how the stitches shift around, pulling out the empty needle and sticking it into the new side. I love how it looks complicated, but isn't. And circulars are just so useful.

8. You know those people who tell you they don't have a television, or if they do they never watch it, or they only watch Public Television? That is so not me. I don't know anymore if I watch TV because I knit, or if I knit because I watch TV.

9. I'm way more about texture than color. I love knitting complicated lace and cables, I can even match a color to pattern. But putting colors together? No way. And as much as I love looking at handpainted yarns, I have no idea what to do with them (I suppose it works out, since they are generally too expensive for me anyway). And let's not mention intarsia.

10. I've been thinking a lot lately about Art and Craft and I have come to the conclusion that knitting is Craft, not Art. Unfortunately, I find it really hard to articulate why I believe this, especially when someone like Kaffe Fassett exists. I may try, at some point, to expand this into a full fledged essay, but in general I think art and craft exist along a continuum and that one is not more or less than the other. On one end of the continuum, there is Katharine Cobey, who uses knitting as a medium in her art. On the other end is Eunny, who is a master craftsperson. And Kaffe? Well Kaffe exists along the entire continuum. There is a lot to be said about vision, intention, utility and beauty. But I won't go there now.

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