Crafting, a Family Affair; or, How I Learned to Knit.

I come from a long line of crafters and creative folks, on both sides of my family. My mom and sister are crafty, my aunts on both sides of my family knit and/or crochet, my uncle and grandfather are/were artists, both of my grandmothers knit. Creativity is in my blood, and I’m the type of person that feels suffocated if I’m not creating SOMETHING.

My earliest recollection of being introduced to the wonders you could make with yarn was when I was about six or seven. My grandmother was visiting us in Colorado, and showed me how to do plastic canvas. As my mom tells it, she came home from work and my grandmother had me completely setup with supplies. It was the coolest thing ever, but my interest in it eventually waned. Next was being introduced to crochet, when I was maybe ten. My aunt taught me how to crochet, and I filled Nana’s coffee table with odd triangular shaped coasters. You see, I learned then and there how important that turning chain can be. The coasters were SUPPOSED to be cute little squares, but without that turning chain, each row got smaller and smaller. I dabbled in crochet for several years to come, never really actually MAKING a completed object.

After crochet, came cross-stitch, hidden stitch appliqué, sewing, and eventually quilting. All taught to me by the same aunt that taught me how to crochet. They were all fun, but it wasn’t anything I was passionate about.

Then about seven years ago, I got this wild notion. I wanted a pair of hand knit socks. I had heard from a friend how amazing hand knit socks were, but I couldn’t fathom asking someone to make them for me. So, I resolved to learn to knit so I could make my own. Armed with a pair of Boye US8 aluminum needles and a couple of skeins of Red Heart Super Saver, I taught myself to knit. Well, I mostly taught myself to knit. Asking questions of my knitter friends, and using YouTube as a resource helped immensely (and still does, if I find myself stumped). I was determined to pick up this skill, no matter how frustrating it might be.

A few weeks went by, my knitter friend introduced me to the folks at my LYS (where I would later work, interestingly enough). Weeks turned into months, and then I was being taken to Stitches West for the very first time. They say you always remember your first time. Holy yarn fumes and sensory overload, Batman! I made a total of three purchases that year at Stitches West: a skein of sock yarn in a beautiful blue/green color called “Olympic Rainforest”, a copy of Dolin Blis O’Shea’s Trixie Cowl, and a set of bamboo needles. I learned a lot with that project, and with the many projects that followed it. Over the course of the next three years I would learn how to spin, and yet I never picked up sock knitting. That was the whole reason I started this journey through yarntopia, and I still hadn’t tackled it. Finally, I bit the bullet and with some assistance from the enablers in charge at my LYS, I learned to knit socks.

Progress on the Trixie Cowl, 2012

Once I had mastered socks, it was on to sweaters. But oh, how I tried to avoid sweaters. You see, at the time I referred to hand knit sweaters as commitment issues waiting to happen . Sweaters are A LOT of knitting, especially when you’re a nearly six foot tall guy with a long torso and arms like an albatross. Eventually, I caved in and with some guidance from my mentor at the time (one of the enablers in charge, you see), I was well on my way to knitting my very first sweater. That first sweater was quite depressing in the end, to be honest. The sleeves were too long and the torso too short. I couldn’t bring myself to finish it completely after I tried it on and saw.

That was almost two years ago. Fast forward to just a few weeks ago, and I’ve  completed my Drumlin Cardigan from Amy Herzog’s CustomFit sweater program. It fits like a glove, and I love how it turned out! I’m already plotting my next sweater, so I think I’m hooked!

Top Left: Mary Maxim pattern knit for my granddad 65+ years ago; Bottom Left, Nana wearing a hand knit sweater made for her by my aunt; Right, me in my handy-dandy new cardigan.
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