Tag Archives: Knitting

Knit 1, purl 2, knit 6, breathe

dishrags for mom

Before COVID-19 was worldwide news and long before it forced us indoors to isolate, I resolved to knit more.

Actually, it was a New Year’s Resolution. Sort of. My notes say, “knitting? 6 projects?”

Real definitive, there. But yet, I have followed through.

I’ve been knitting and purling since junior high school when I taught myself to knit so I could make a bikini (yup, true story, didn’t ever actually wear the see-through bikini though). Knitting is either a granny’s activity or a cool thing Cameron Diaz and Charlize Theron do between takes, depending on who’s touting it. I’m probably more like a granny than a Hollywood celebrity with a big Instagram following, but I’m in charge here, so we’re going with the theory knitting is hip.

It’s also great meditation.

Zen and the Art of KnittingIn Zen and the Art of Knitting: Exploring the Links Between Knitting, Spirituality, and Creativity, author (and knitter) Bernadette Murphy writes:

Best of all, knitting is slow. So slow that we see the beauty inherent in every tiny act that makes up a sweater. So slow that we know the project’s not going to get finished today⁠—it may not get finished for many months or longer⁠—and thus, we make our peace with the unresolved nature of life. We slow down as we knit. Our breathing and heart rate drop and knitters who’ve been at it a while experience a trancelike state that provides the same benefits as other forms of meditation.

Sounds like the perfect anecdote for a pandemic, right? “Unresolved nature of life”? It’s the theme of things in a pandemic. My timing couldn’t be better.

I started by finishing a couple of dishcloths I began at least five years ago.

dish clothes

When I posted these stellar creations to Facebook (because I like to stick to noncontroversial posts so I don’t tick off my liberal, conservative, religious, atheistic, immunocompromised, unemployed, vegan and paleo friends, and knitting is a safe subject, if a little dull), my mother remarked she could use some new dishcloths.

Hey, her birthday was coming up. Great idea! I’ll knit some more dishcloths for her. Knitting a gift is quite lovely for both the knitter and the recipient because the knitter gets plenty of time to think about the person who will one day use the item. Murphy put it this way:

“In sweaters I make for others, I gently pass on my positive desires for their lives; these garments give warmth while embracing the wearer in a hundred-thousand little prayers.”

sun flowers

Sunshine against a backdrop of clouds.

I chose to knit dishcloths for mom in the Sun pattern from Leisure Arts’ Trendy Knit Dishcloths because Mom doesn’t get enough sunshine in the Minnesota winters and could use something bright. I made one in yellow, one in melon and one in bright orange.

doilies

Mom loved them, but she didn’t put them to use in the kitchen sink. She used them as doilies. Now I think I need to make a couple of doilies for my nightstands.

But first, I finished a project for myself.

In Zen and the Art of Knitting, Murphy suggested a Sleeveless Rolled Neck Pullover as a basic get-going pattern. I selected a nice veriegated yarn in blue, green and gray, and created this:

sweater

It’s not the disgrace the bikini was years ago, but I’m not going to model it for you. It turned out the way I imagined it.

If you’re counting, I’m up to four projects this year plus two halves, so I need to do at least one more in order to accomplish my goal. The real accomplishment is not projects, but peace and creativity.

What’s keep you creatively fueled right now?

I spin tales, they spin yarn

When I was in junior high, I found a pattern for a knitted bikini in Glamour magazine or some fashion magazine like that.

I didn’t know how to knit, but I really wanted to have a knitted bikini!

I had tried crocheting, with limited success. And my left-handed mother was not a knitter and could not have shown me how anyway.

So I taught myself how to knit out of a book.

I did manage to finish the knitted bikini after some time — summer was long gone about twice before I accomplished the task. And as you might imagine, a bikini knitted by a beginner isn’t wearable for a variety of reasons, nudity laws ranking high on the list.

But I persevered with the knitting and have started a number of projects over the years. I’ve even finished some of them, too, learning quit a bit along the way.

Once I made a long-sleeved sweater. I lengthened the sleeves (for my freakishly long arms) in all the wrong places and ended up gathering the shoulders so much that I looked like a football player.

I made a scarf for a boyfriend once that refused to lay flat.

And I have the cutest unfinished halter top in my knitting basket now.

But I’ve also had enough knitting successes to really enjoy the process, and I experienced enough to know that I hate using the cheap 100% acrylic yarn that is available in most craft stores.

This past weekend, I got to see how real wool yarn is made. We had dinner with a couple of Tyler’s high school classmates, who also happen to be the proprietors of Illinois Wool and Fiber Mill.

They showed us around their farm where they raise a small flock of sheep and mill their fleece and the fleece of other sheep owners into yarn. The amount of work that goes into making real wool yarn is amazing, and it makes me appreciate all the more the skeins of yarns I’ve handled over the years.

Besides having to care for living sheep while they grow fleece on their backs, these yarn makers must shear the sheep, wash the fleece, dye it (unless they’re going for a natural color), dry it, tumble it (to further remove foreign matter), blend it with other fibers if necessary, card it into rovings or batt, pin draft it (I think that’s the term) and finally spin it into yarn. Depending on how many ply the yarn has, multiple spinnings are in order. You can see a little slide show of the process at www.ilwoolfibermill.com

As I walked through all these steps, I’m amazed some caveman somewhere ever thought to turn a sheep’s fur into something wearable. And how that caveman got all that dirty fuzz into something useful (like yarn) — wow. The whole step of knitting a string of yarn into a sweater is all the more amazing! Talk about visionary.

The resulting yarn looks and feels wonderful and inspires me to take on another knitting project. Not a bikini, but perhaps a hat.