When I returned to knitting, after a short absence of thirty-five years, I thought it would be nice to make some presents for people and fill in some time on the train. What I didn’t expect is the way knitting would end up weaving its way through my life. That first simple instruction, “Make a slip knot and cast on 53 stitches”, has led me to much more than a striped cardigan for my mother for Christmas
As with any new endeavour I embark upon, I started research – hey I’m a bloke and a scientist, I need to know how stuff works; and with knitting there’s nothing to pull apart with a screwdriver. So it was off to the Internet. Call me old fashioned, but I wasn’t expecting a lot, after all, knitting is fairly low tech (one of its primary appeals to me) and, I thought, a long way from computers. What I found was just the first in a long line of, Oh well I was wrong about that that have popped up at all too frequent intervals. And like so many of those misconceptions, I found the reality was a pleasant surprise. From videos showing both left and right handed knitting (I didn’t even know there were two types) to free patterns, pages of advice, and knitting groups. I lost many hours just wandering through the pages and pages of information.
I’m not sure how I stumbled upon the tangled web of knitting pod-casts, but I do know that Brenda Dayne’s Cast-On was the first. I admit to being a little bit sceptical when I downloaded the first episode, thinking how much can there possibly be to say about knitting when there are no pictures. So I sat down with something else to do, intending for it to be mainly background noise. Within a few minutes I was entranced, a few minutes more and I was hooked. Cast-On led me to It’s a Purl, Man, Quirky Nomads, Chubb Creek, and numerous other programs – and of course the Podsafe music network. If I didn’t have a few hours commuting each day I’d never have time to listen, and now with the knit2gethervideo pod-cast watch, them all.
It was almost inevitable that I’d be jealous of the fun it seemed that these pod-casters were having, and the community that had formed between them. And with the blind optimism that has got me started on many projects (some of them even successful), I decided that I too could do a pod-cast, so here I am. I’ve had fun getting this far, but I’m still worried about the “competition” and the high standard they have set. (I know they’re not really competitors, in fact the support all the shows seem to give each other make them more like a family than rivals.) If I make it half way to their standard, I’ll be happy.
I think one of the reasons I’ve got so deeply into knitting is the community. Of itself, knitting is a creative and useful endeavour, but it is largely solitary. Apart from the occasional visit to a yarn store for supplies and patterns, there really is no need to see other people – of course with the internet and the plethora of online shops, you can do away with seeing other people entirely, but I don’t think you’d enjoy the knitting quite so much.
I have been amazed by the community spirit I have encountered amongst other knitters, from the knitting shop owners and staff to members of the knitting group; generous and friendly, I have been able to walk up to other knitters and strike up conversations that have gone for over an hour, and could have gone much longer, and I am sure will next time we meet.
I suppose knitters are a bit like the stitches they knit, a single stitch is useful and may be perfectly formed, but when you get a pile of them together then the whole is much more than the sum of the individual stitches.
So, get out there and find other people to knit with, the knots you start with may slip, but the friendships and community will hold fast.