Saturday, December 29, 2012

Knitting is "in"

I can’t recall how many different articles I saw in the newspapers during the fall and just before Christmas, telling everybody that knitting is “in” and more trendy than ever. I have written about guerilla knitting here before, although I still haven’t actively joined in that movement, just enjoy seeing items when I happen to catch sight of them. (Happens not too frequently, I have to admit. Doesn’t seem to be the big thing around here, out in the country.) It is even entering advertisements, as on this one for a gas station which I found in the paper yesterday:

I’ve been a knitter almost all my life. My grandmother taught me how to knit when I must have been just six, I believe, during the summer before I started going to school. I remember the blue yarn that she had un- and rewound, hiding the tiniest little treasures while rewinding, in order to keep me eagerly knitting away so that I would quickly get to the next little goody. In the very middle there was a coin, it must have been one Deutschmark, an immeasurable amount of wealth at that time for a girl that age. And before I knew it I had grasped the secret of at least purl stitch.
After that I was constantly knitting. Ball gowns for my Barbie dolls, baby blankets for (late) babies arriving in my parents’ circle of friends, and sweaters sweaters sweaters. For a while I was knitting for money for a craft store – as a teenager I spent a lot of time on the tram going back and forth because of my daily swim practice, and filled that time with knitting. During tenth and eleventh grade I even knitted during school lessons, sometimes under the table, believing the teacher didn’t notice. I could knit without looking, at least some patterns, and the teacher never said anything...
In a combined effort my mother and I even copied and remade the pattern of a Norwegian jacket for my grandmother, which she had worn for perhaps twenty-five years and did not  want to give up although it was getting rather threadbare. This jacket kept her comfortable during her last years of mental decline.
For a long time I saved every single swatch I made to determine the number of stitches needed, thinking I would some day combine all these into a blanket of my life as a knitter. I don’t quite remember when I threw that bag out on the occasion of a move, probably, and I am not really sure I regret having done that. It certainly would have given the chance to recount every single sweater I made, but one does accumulate so much clutter...
While I was writing my Ph.D. thesis I contracted tendonitis in my right arm due to computer use and had to stop knitting for a while. But hand quilting was fine, so I did not miss knitting too much. At that time yarn shops were in decline, too, it was hard to get nice yarn, and I had turned a quilter a heart.
During pregnancy, however, I gave it another try, started a baby jacket, which was finished before the baby was born, and turned to knitting socks after that. As I get older I need warm socks during winter, and I must have knit at least one hundred pairs of socks since my son was born, for me, my husband, friends, the church Christmas market, and to pay for art.
Now that I don’t buy commercial fabrics anymore, I have to admit that I have returned to buying yarn. To my big surprise one of the first shops I saw when we moved to this town almost eight years ago was a yarn store. I found it hard to believe that possible, as so many stores that carried yarn had either changed stock or closed down altogether in larger places. But this store has recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, and moved to larger premises a few months ago. They also do a lot of business online. That’s where I bought the yarn for this recently completed vest in patchwork knitting style which I had been working on after my return from Ste. Marie-aux-Mines, while taking a break from having to be creative in quilting.

On the picture I am auditioning a selection of my numerous buttons, trying to decide which ones will be used.
But now it is time to return to creative quiltmaking. I have started work on my entry for SAQA’s “Text messages”. This picture shows my preliminary attempts at how I will deal with the required text on the quilt. 

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