Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Knitting Man


Cats make great knitting companions
Mr. Chanclas has mad skills. I knew this when I married him but his skill list is even longer twelve years later. When Brother was about to be born six years ago Mr. C decided he was going to knit a hat for his new baby boy. Specifically, a hat with a skull and crossbones image knitted into it. I told Mr. C that there was no way he could knit a skull and crossbones hat in the two months remaining until Brother's birth considering he didn't know how to knit and the skull and crossbones image would make the project extra difficult. Through some twisted form of marital "telephone" Mr. Chanclas heard, "You can't knit a hat." So he set out to prove me wrong. (Never tell Mr. Chanclas that he can't do something. Just don't.) 

Shortly afterward he spotted an ad for a free knitting circle at the Barnes & Noble bookstore near our house. He was pressed for time but managed to get several little old ladies to teach him how to knit in about twenty minutes. He came home and started producing scarves, hats, cell phone sleeves, and even a beautiful felted handbag. He is constantly challenging himself with increasingly difficult projects. He was quick to pick up the circular needles, the double pointed needles, and the specialty yarns. He still hasn't tackled the art of intarsia (knitting images into things) but I wouldn't be surprised if he eventually made that skull and crossbones hat that started it all.

I don't come from knitters (my mom is a quilter) so watching a scarf grow off the needles was like magic to me. I couldn't figure out what actually happened to make the knitting grow. What magic happened between those needles? Did the knitting grow from the top or the bottom? What makes the different textures and patterns? I didn't know.

Finally, last winter I asked Mr. Chanclas to teach me how to knit. I learned that knitting is just a lot of making knots ("stitches")and that the amazing thing is there are really only two knots to learn (knit and purl). Different combinations of knit and purl stitches make up the different patterns. Knitting is deceptively simple. 

Mr. Chanclas teaching Big Sister how to knit

I still haven't mastered the purl stitch. Even so, I have made several scarves and cowls with just the knit stitch (which results in a pattern called garter stitch). If you have ever thought about knitting but decided it would be too hard let me dispel that myth right here. It is very simple. It does require practice but less than you think to get started. 

You don't need to spend a lot of money on it, either. Craft stores often have yarn on sale. I like to use yarns that contain at least some real wool and my favorites are 80-100% wool. I have amassed a large collection of knitting needles bought in thrift stores. Many of them were made in the 1950's and 60's and had hilarious images and prices stamped on their original packaging. Even if you have to buy your needles new, they are often on sale at the craft stores, too. (Or you can get coupons online.) And let's not forget the least expensive way to get some materials: ask someone who knits to share theirs. Do you have an aunt or a grandma or a neighbor who knits? They might have supplies to share or hand down and they could help you get started, too.

As for me, I need to go and get to knitting on some Christmas gifts. Knitting is strictly a winter hobby for me!

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