Way back when
Monday April 23rd 2007, 4:40 pm
Filed under: Knit

When I was a teenager seriously coveting a cabled vest in one of my mom’s knitting magazines, Mom told me, “It’s not your turn. Go knit it yourself.” And with that, she launched me forth into my knitting, bigtime. Go Mom!

Now, she had taught me how to knit when I was ten, on a summer-long road trip, but it had been awhile since I’d really worked at it: enough so that I couldn’t remember quite how to go about it. Being a teenager, I was not about to admit that and ask for help; I just sat there, yarn and needles in hand, trying to picture Mom’s hands at work and how the yarn was supposed to lay between which fingers. I did ask, now, how do you do that cast-on, again? But after that I went carefully off by myself where nobody could catch on that I wasn’t sure what I was doing.

The end result is that I concocted a knitting style that works perfectly for me and is utterly different from how she knits. It wasn’t till many years later that I discovered that, for my joint issues with my lupus, this was an exceedingly good thing, and that had I knitted Continental like I’d originally been taught, I probably never would have become a Knitter with a capital K. My style of grabbing the yarn every stitch involves virtually no wrist nor finger twisting and is far more comfortable for me.

That cabled vest came out gorgeous. Then the four-color Scandinavian sweater that I did in two weeks. Then the Vogue cardigan, good wool, all of them… I knit like crazy through high school–but then when I got to college, I found I just didn’t have the funds for the yarn anymore, nor the time, and let it go.

But then, later, married and graduated and with a baby on the way, I wanted her–I was sure she’d be a her–to have a handknit sweater. A cabled vest somehow seemed just the thing.

I went to Sears and bought some cheapo acrylic Red Heart. In fluorescent green. I know, I know… “Color is everything,” Constance Harker… There are those who will tell you that Red Heart softens up after the first time you wash it. And that may be true nowadays. It wasn’t true then, and the thing still feels like you could scrub burned pots with it. Unfortunately, thinking that’s all there really was out there to work with, knitting and yarn stores having become rare by then, that turned me off from knitting for a half dozen years or so, which I regret. All the cute baby things I never made!

But I wanted to show off this vest that I designed completely on the fly 25 years ago as a new mom-to-be. I look at it and think, not bad (don’t mind the seam coming apart at the bottom there. It’s earned its gray hairs-equivalent.)

And this is what I made when that daughter was about ten. We’d come a long way, baby.

7 Comments so far
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Great post. I have only been knitting since 1999, but I still have my first mitten I made (out of red heart)… I’m sure someday I’ll look back at it the same way.

Comment by Amanda1 04.23.07 @ 6:54 pm

Holy Moses that is a *GORGEOUS* cabled sweater. Is it Intarsiaran? Arintarsia? Intaransia? Whatever way you knit it up, it’s lovely. What a long, strange trip it’s been, eh?

I started knitting in August 2005. In knitting years, I’m not even really *old* enough to look back and think, ‘sigh’. Besides, I gave my first knitted garment to my brother’s wife, because it fit her better, so I can only head-reminisce (and thus forget all the mistakes I made on that ole hat). Please retroactively pardon the pun. 🙂

Miss Knotty.

Comment by Miss Knotty 04.23.07 @ 10:27 pm

Intaransia–I love it. (Somehow, it makes me picture Tarzan swinging through the trees in such a way as to loop his ropes into knit/purl stitches…don’t mind me, hey, I live for a good pun.) And thank you, you guys. Miss Knotty, that sweater came from Kaffe Fassett’s Family Album book; I didn’t follow his pattern, really, but rather his idea of baby cables with each side of each cable being a different color. I did the cables intarsia-style and carried the navy across the whole back as I went. The thing is WARM, in llama/wool Montara yarn–I rather wish I’d made it as a cardigan, so I could open it up and breathe a bit, but never mind. Glad you like it!

Comment by AlisonH 04.24.07 @ 9:26 am

The cabled sweater leaves me kind of speechless, just thinking about knitting it. I mean, I’m not afraid of the idea of doing it, but…it’s such a commitment of effort. You’re not just a Knitter, you’re a KNITTER!

Comment by Joni 04.24.07 @ 11:46 am

Wow! I’ve only knitted a little over 3 years, and I too regret the missed knitting for my kids. I often say, “if only I had knit when they were babies!” Now of course they want scarves, the occasional socks, and trendy sweaters that they would only wear for one season! Maybe some day it will be different, but for now, you’d better pick a sweater that you’ll wear forever if I’m going to make it!

Can’t wait to meet you in a week!

Comment by Knitnik 04.24.07 @ 2:55 pm

You know Alison, if you can match that navy yarn it’s NOT too late for the sweater to become a cardigan if you don’t mind steeking. With just a teeny bit of navy you could put in a zipper instead of a full button band.

Comment by Marlene 04.24.07 @ 3:01 pm

I *think* I have more navy and of the dark rose, but steeking the thing just terrifies the bejabors out of me. (What was that Knitter with a K thing? I take it back. Uncle!)

Comment by AlisonH 04.24.07 @ 5:11 pm

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