Have I ever told you the story about how knitting came back into my life?
I learned to knit when I was about 10. I knit off and on through school and university. Then my mom became terminally ill. I was in my second year of a degree in nursing when she had her mastectomy. Somehow, over the next nearly three years, knitting fell away in the chaos of looking after my mother, filling in for her at home, and going to university full time. Mom passed on Oct. 26, 1986. I graduated with a B.Ed. in April 1988. I never picked up my knitting. A huge box of stash followed me through moves, marriage, more moves, and my first child. A friend's mom was a knitter and one day I just gave her the whole box. Well, almost the whole box. I saved 20 or so balls of Patons Firefly that I had bought years before for a sweater I never knit. I carried that smidge of stash around for another 10 years, 2 more children, and another move!
In the fall of 2004, I was chatting with one of the school secretarial aides, Helen-Anne, about how much my daughter wanted a poncho and how crazy it made me that I couldn't find one that I liked and that I was sure I could make one that was nicer than anything in the store. She found the Harlot Poncho online and introduced me to online blogs. Through the Yarn Harlot, I've read many blogs and feel like I've gotten to know people through their pages even though they know nothing about me. I eventually knit my daughter a purple poncho from a Patons pattern book. She loves it and wears it constantly. Meanwhile, Helen-Anne was churning out Harlot ponchos for her daughters and for the ladies at the nursing home she also works at. Still not ready to go to a yarn store, I looked at that Firefly again. Quicker than you can type "long-tail cast on", my Firefly poncho was born. I loved it. I was possessed by it. I began to knit during staff meetings! When it was done I wore it every day for like a month!
Meanwhile, Helen-Ann was kidding me about knitting dishcloths and socks. Now, don't get me wrong, I value both objects and their relative place in the world. It's just that knitting is such an act of meditation and peace for me. I love that I can create something beautiful using nothing more than two pointy sticks and some string. Why would I spend that energy on a dishcloth. Or socks. Why would anyone? Undeterred, Helen-Anne kept extoling the virtues of hand knit socks and hand knit discloths.
I ventured into the LYS around this time and saw some gorgeous socks. The lovely lady said they were knit with self-patterning sock yarn. No Way! Fair Isle socks without doing Fair Isle! I bought 2 balls of Regia Jacquard 4-ply just to prove that there was no way it would work. I fiddled with dpn's, knit round and round, and watched in fascinated amazement as the damn thing worked out! Then I did it again! Cool. Socks are the coolest thing to knit. There is nothing like the fit, the feel, and the love of hand knit socks. I was hooked. Enter Sockapalooza. This wondrous sock exchange was the brain child of Alison. I made a pair of Canadian Hockey Socks in Briggs and Little Tuffy sock yarn. They are red mix, with ecru stripes at the top, and almost knee length. They currently grace the legs of another Alison, who likes to hike. These socks became a feature at all meetings. I knit in between parents during parent teacher interviews. Once, I asked a family to wait until I got to the end of a needle! I knit at lunch and during my spare period. People got sucked into the sock. Okay, some were annoyed, but some were fascinated. They asked me to teach them to knit. Absolutely! No Problem! Yes, you too can knit socks even though knitting socks is not economically wise. What did they want to knit for their first object? A Harlot Poncho of course. That's how Montgomery Chicks With Sticks was born.
Knitting is old. As old as clothing I think. The process of knitting and purling to make fabric, the knowledge of shaping the loops into a garment, the magic of turning a heel, sitting quietly focussed on the feel of the yarn, the firmness of the needles, the sliding of the stitches, the peaceful feeling that can be the gift of knitting. Knitters are open. They work their craft for themselves and for others. Knitters are generous and giving. They are helpful and encouraging. Knitting brings people together, gives them a common place to be, creates the beginning of friendship. I am so grateful to be practising this craft again in my life. It has brought me new friends, new opportunities, and new skills. I hope that you will join me in this knitting adventure.
A note: The Yarn Harlot herself, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, will be dong a book talk at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Calgary on August 9. I'll be there, maybe you will too.