or what I do when I am not working or farming …

Why I Knit

Posted by mobarger on Jan-4-2009

(This is in response to BiWeekly Blog Question #1 as part of the Warm Ewe Up Winter swap).

I grew up in the 70s and my mom did not work until I was well into high school. She was a prolific sewer and then knitter, and in her later years started quilting. She sewed most of my sister’s and my clothes. She even made clothes for our dolls. I remember one afternoon she created an entire Barbie outfit as I took a nap. Barbie was waiting for me, sitting on the couch at the end of the hall, so I would see her as soon as I came out of my room.

I began knitting as a kid, maybe I was 7? My mother had an old pamphlet from the 50s that included a stitch library and I would practice each stitch, swatching each example and learning.

Cable Sample

Here’s an example. I found this in a box my father had stored away. The yarn is easily recognizable – it is from an afghan kit my mother had made (I have that blanket in storage somewhere).  This is an example of a cable. Looks like I needed more practice :)

The first pattern I remember knitting was a pair of slippers. I used leftover yarn from a cardigan my mother had made. The slippers were a simple garter stitch with decreases, a 2 needle pattern.  My mother had dozens of pamphlets of patterns including one full of 2 needle sock patterns and another for 2 needle mittens.

Old Pattern Books

My mother was into all sorts of creative fabric-y things (she did the embroidery on the runner pictured above). She and my father square danced and she made all of their outfits — matching of course. And clothes for us kids. And Barbie. I had a large doll too (her name was Velvet if you remember her) and mom not only made her clothes but knit her ponchos etc.

Weaving Sample

She must have had a Weave It loom too. I found this in the same box of my childhood ephemera as the knitting sample. The yarn is from another cardigan she had made.

Fibery activities held my interest for about a year. I tried sewing in high school but it never appealed to me. I moved on to drawing, horses, and other things. I never gave knitting another thought.

Well mom passed away over 15 years ago. As my father went through everything in the house that was uniquely hers, he came across her stash in the closet under the stairs. Needles, yarn, pattern books, accessories, fabric and quilting samplers were all stored in cardboard boxes that ended up coming home with me (my sister got her button stash). In her memory I began knitting again using the same stitch swatch book. I have learned other cast on methods but still revert to the long tail she taught me. I have moved on from her collection of colored metal straight needles and could never use her plastic DPNs but I still keep them. I even found the same needles at Goodwill last week for $.50 a pair. I think that is more than what they were originally.

Needle Collection

My father passed away 3 months ago and had many items in storage. Among them was my mother’s old sewing machine. I teared up as I saw it as I thought he had sold it long ago.  So sewing will be my next skill to learn – once more – so I can go through mom’s old fabric stash and finish the quilts she had started.

So why I knit? I never quite answered that question did I? I knit to reconnect with my past and my mother.  I knit to create things for other people that create memories for them as the items my mother made did for me. As I knit I think although sometimes my mind is a void as I get lost in the repetitive counting of some patterns.  It is a meditative and cognitive process sometimes! But sometimes I feel I have to knit to keep up with the stash I keep accumulating!