Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Guest Post: Knitting Gift

Today's post is from my friend Theresa. I have been a fan of her knitting ever since I complimented her scarf and she responded, "Thanks! I made it." I was awe struck. It looked expensive, intricate, and so lovely (see photo at bottom of post).

And when she gifted me a baby blanket, I was honored. It was such a kind gesture and the blanket was heavy and warm and beautiful. But it wasn't until I started toting that blanket everywhere that I realized how talented she truly is. It looks the same as the day she gave it to me and the number of compliments I receive is endless. Once while browsing at a boutique baby shop, the owner called all of the employees over to admire the quality. Somebody made this for you? They always say in slight disbelief. 

Thank you Theresa for sharing some insight into your gift!

Kerin asked me to consider writing this blog post a little while ago and I have to admit, it stumped me a little.  My talent is knitting… and what non-knitter wants to read a blog post about knitting?  So, I decided to write about me, as a knitter, rather than the topic in general.  I’m a self-taught, slightly more accomplished knitter than your average needle toting fiber artist.  Ha, fiber artist, that makes me feel fancy!   The truth is, I picked up the hobby not because of what I can produce when the needles are removed, but because of the result the entire process has on me, mentally and physically. 

I have ADD, and I am not a fan of the medications out there that help me master this behavioral condition.  I’ve tried them, they work, but they scare the pants off me.  So, as someone who is, by choice, un-medicated, I needed to find a way to channel the constant desire to be moving/doing/producing.  Crafting, in any form, is a great way to solve for that need, at least for me.  I’ve been big into that sort of thing my entire life (as a kid, I liked LOVED beads), and in my mid-twenties, I discovered knitting.  A friend at work had taken to knitting over lunch, and I was mesmerized!  She was knitting, and eating and talking all at once!  I headed to the craft store after watching her that first day, found a great website that night, and brought in a scarf that was already a foot long the next day to work on at lunch. 

Fast forward a half a decade, and I’ve taught (or in some cases retaught) several people how to knit, I’ve knit something like 20,000 yards of yarn (for perspective, that’s over 11 miles), I’ve written a few of my own patterns (as far as I am concerned, that is the most daunting and complicated aspect of knitting), I’ve knit all of the typical hand knit items you can think of (scarf, hat, mittens, blankets, sweaters, socks, etc.) and I’ve taken the leap and opened up a small Etsy site.  For years, the fine print associated with running a shop on that site has terrified me, but here I am.  If anyone reading this is a Ravelry fan, please be my friend

When it comes to a hobby as laborious as knitting, patience is a virtue… The previously mentioned ADD does mess with me from time to time, but the hobby itself has taught me to control my impulses and see where the process can take me (plus, I easily stay caught up on all of my favorite prime time TV simultaneously!).  My favorite things to knit are the things that will be gifts, especially for babies, as they are inherently adorable.  Miss Emaline received one of my favorite gifts to date – a stroller sized peach, green and purple blanket:

Emaline and family have given me the most wonderful ego boost and confidence builder any knitter out there could ever hope to receive.  Knowing how amazing Kerin is with words, you would likely assume it’s some sort of glowing thank you note, but no, it’s completely non-verbal.  Prior to their move (I just can’t even talk about how sad I am to not have them here anymore), when I would visit, not only would the blanket be out (I am very accustomed to the gift I knit being strategically displayed when I visit anyone) but more importantly, showing distinctive signs of wear and use.  The amount of time, work and effort (and in many instances strong emotion) that go into knitting a gift are so overwhelming that the idea of a blanket or a stuffed animal being kept on a shelf out of baby’s hands for fear of them destroying it is almost too much to bear.  I want Emaline to nap on that blanket, spill and spit up on that blanket, tote it around the house and yard getting dirty; I want it to be HER blanket.  Plus, any good knitter will always be sure to knit baby gifts out of yarn that can be machine washed!  So please, consider this my PSA on behalf of knitters everywhere, USE YOUR GIFTS!

That said, I have found the time to make a few things for myself over the years.  The last thing I want to touch on is the project that helped me to realize just how emotional this hobby of mine can be, if you let it.  The project started out as my very first commission, a scarf for a coworker.   She had picked out the pattern and the yarn for herself, and wanted me to knit it for her.  I was happy and excited to do it.  However, in the end I could not bring myself to give it to her (but I did make another for her).

The reason this scarf is so special, and why it took so long to complete (6 months!) is that it was the last thing my grandpa saw me working on before he passed away. My grandfather was one of the most important people in my life and he LOVED this scarf. He always wanted to see my progress on it when I went to visit him.  When he would look at it, he’d get all teary-eyed and tell me that my grandmother would have been so proud of me if she could have seen my knitting (I didn’t learn until after she had passed away).  I will always be able to remember him sitting at the kitchen table tracing the cables of the scarf with his fingers. 

I savored completing this project, often at times only knitting a row or two before putting it down.  When the time came to bind off, I was able to truly appreciate a finished item in a way I hadn’t yet experienced with anything else I had made for myself – I smiled, truly smiled, from the bottom of my heart.  The thing I long to see when I give a gift to a friend or family member, I had managed to do for myself.  In fact, it’s the one care instruction I have listed on the back of my labels.  As long as you smile when you wear or use something I’ve made, I’m happy.  I won’t mind if you wear it out, get it dirty, or if in fact it’s not your style (for the record though, I REALLY try to avoid knitting anything ugly, I REALLY do try).  Just smile.

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