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This Could Be the Beginning of a Beautiful Hobby

Now that I've introduced myself, I thought I'd talk about how I began knitting.

Everyone, to the best of my understanding, began in one of four ways.

Take the quiz! In the time-honoured tradition of online quizzes everywhere, I have organized the choices by which Sex and the City character you are.

1. You learned to knit at age 3, when your vaguely-ethnic Nana showed you what to do. By 6 you were knitting Aran sweaters regularly and kept your family in socks. Now you teach at knitting events internationally and have a line of books through InterWeave Press. You're a Charlotte.

2. You learned to knit at age 18, when you discovered your roommate, a woman's studies major, secretly knitting. Begging you not to inform on her, she promised to teach your her secret ways. Because she never showed you SSK, you don't have mirrored decreases in your sweaters. You're a Miranda.

3. You learned to knit at age 35, when the divorce became final and you didn't want to fill the emptiness with cats. You can afford fancy yarn, so mostly focus on garter stitch shawls that gradually change colour as they grow vertically. You're a Samantha.

4. You learned to knit at age 48, when you recovered from the flu, discovered you'd inadvertently quit smoking, and tried to keep your hands busy by doing jigsaw puzzles until it dawned on you they were a complete waste of time. Trying to think of a productive hobby, you chose knitting, because it seemed practically impossible (straight sticks, no hook) and yet even blind grandmothers could do it, so why not you? You're a Carrie.

I'm a Carrie! What were you?

On the day I decided to knit, I had also purchased a bird feeder, so to counterbalance it all I signed up for Parkour lessons (the urban sport of jumping over things that are in your way). Today, the Parkour lessons (and the bruises, and the concussion) are a distant memory, and the bird feeder is long gone (birds eat, then poop, and the husband was okay with the first activity but not the second), but the knitting is still going strong.

I went to my local yarn shop (shout out to Three Bags Full in Vancouver) and they got me set up with some Worsted yarn, two appropriate straight needles, the first Stitch & Bitch book, and a small leather purse which I filled with notions. I then went home, fired up, and learned to knit (but not quite to purl).

So long as I kept to the knit stitch, great happiness! But when I tried the purl stitch, tragedy. I was instructed that when I knit, I should keep the yarn at the back, but when I purled, I should keep the yarn in front.

Quite reasonably, I argued (with myself, as no one else was there) that my yarn was neither in front nor back, but basically off to the right. I experimented with moving the yarn forward and back as instructed, but it seemed liked, according to the laws of physics, this would not change my knitting at all.

YARN AT BACK, and YARN AT FRONT ... notice the non-existent difference:

So every time I tried any attractive stitch pattern that combined knits and purls (i.e. All the Stitch Patterns other than garter) I ended up with yarnovers* each time I began a new purl section, and as a new knitter it wasn't clear to me these were yarnovers at all (what's a yarn over? heck if I know, I just started knitting fifteen minutes ago.)

I grabbed a beginner's knitting course while out-of-town at another course (shout out to KnitPurl in Portland!), and yes, I'm the kind of person who takes a course in their spare time from taking a course, but that's as far as I'll go. They quickly noticed that my maneuver of moving the ball of yarn slightly forward when purling was not accomplishing the desired effect. It was explained that I had to move the working yarn between my needles and in front of the right-hand needle. Hurrah! Success at last.

I've never looked back.


GGN Norwegian Ski Sweater (the first inch of stockinette after the initial ribbing)

Persian Dreams Blanket (row 17 of the second hexagon)

Feather Duster Lace Shawl (I'm repeating, for the first time, the body section)

A Church Mouse sock (prior to heel)

World's Simplest Mittens (prior to thumb)

*yarnover = an extra loop, workable as a new stitch, created when doing a knit stitch with yarn in front, or a purl stitch with yarn in back. Intentionally desired for lace knitting, for example, as they create decorative holes which are then balanced stitch-count-wise by knitting two together.

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