Since I’m not going to be able to make it to any Stitch n Bitch meetings this week, and I doubt I’ll be able to match last weekend’s super-duper exciting knitting progress, I thought I’d share a bit of my knitting history. Just how did I come to be knitting in the first place? To say nothing of blogging about it . . .
My road to knitting was neither too long nor too winding. When I was in elementary school I took a needlework class after school, where we learned needlepoint and cross-stitch. My two closest friends were in the class with me — it was an early kind of Stitch n Bitch and I loved it. I did needlepoint: a background circle of navy with a unicorn in the center, covered with roses. I never finished it — I think it only ever got about a third done, but I loved it. When I looked for other patterns though, I realized it would be hard to make really cool or pretty things — the choices were pretty much limited to wall-hanging or cushion cover or holiday ornament.
So being a resourceful kind of kid, I decided to take up crochet in order to make something useful that I would love. I know I did a few little projects — I clearly remember working scalloped edging — but soon I’d embarked on a massive project: A crocheted blanket entirely comprised of double-crochet rows. It involved heathered pink Red Heart — more dusty rose than carnation. I was a fourth-grader with no guidance at all, no one to suggest that maybe a blanket was a little bit much, no one to point out that if I wanted a blanket and not just a very long scarf, I’d probably need more than two balls of yarn. I worked diligently on that blanket, and I got two feet completed before it was set aside. Sadly, it was set aside under my bed, in a plastic bag with an orange in it. Months later, when my beleaguered mother located the whole mess (by smell – sorry Mom!), it went in the trash, along with my crafty young dreams.
It wasn’t until years later that I considered going back to crafting. After I finally finished graduate school and had no possible remaining excuses for hiding out at my parents’ house, I went out into the world and got a job. A stressful job, a job that required things I did not have like thick skin (shockingly, not the same as blisters, which I also got) and a tolerance for less-than-bright co-workers demanding that I do things in the most inefficient way possible. I was over-educated, and trust me, Shakespeare does not prepare you for the mailroom. It was hard. I was sad. I felt my life draining away with each bleaching flash of the monstrous, industrial copy-machine I manned all day. I was living with glamorous and roomiekins at the time, and they worried and fussed over me. They were so worried, in fact, that one day when I came home with a counted cross-stitch kit they didn’t say anything disparaging. Thanks ladies. I know you know how badly I needed an outlet back then.
The thing is, I don’t think they expected it to stick. I blew through that first project, a small panel of Zoe, Elmo’s friend from Sesame Street, all dressed up in grown-up clothes. Who knows why I picked it — it was small and colorful and looked easy I suppose. When it was done, I didn’t know what to do with it. I was determined that my next project would have a purpose, a recipient in mind. Roomiekins loved cats but couldn’t have one because glamorous is allergic. So I took myself to the needlework store and picked out a counted cross stitch kit that was all about cats. In fact, you could even call it a cat sampler. Really, the kit was a masterpiece of cat kitsch. There were cats playing with yarn, cats in a basket, cats chasing goldfish, cats riding bikes, and in the center, the pièce de résistance, a large family of cats picnicking in formalwear under an arbor. And what really got me: They’d taken the time to put on bowties, but they were not wearing any shoes. I’m not sure how on earth I could have chosen this hideous monstrosity to dedicate so much time to, but I think it speaks loudly to my general sense of malaise and discontent. It was the summer of 2004, and I worked the cats until my fingertips got so sore I began wrapping them in medical tape so I could keep going.
I was determined to finish the cat project, and I wanted to have it framed or made into a pillow in time to give it to roomiekins for a special occasion. There was just one problem. The design incorporated the title “Cat Collection” and the motto “God gave us cats to love and keep us humble.” Neither of us liked that slogan, and I wanted to think of something else witty to stitch into the space. That was about two years ago. I’m still thinking. In the interim, she got a post-graduate degree, got engaged, got a cat, and then broke up with her fiancee. So here’s how it looks today, a blank slate waiting for a slogan:
Hopefully inspiration will strike soon — any suggestions welcome!