Knit, knit, knit

I can’t crochet to save my life.

I started knitting when my Aunt Helen showed me how to knit on a pair of old aluminum Boye needles and rough acrylic yarn at my grandmother’s house in Seattle. Yarns in the 1960s were muted and scratchy. She showed me the knit stitch and purl stitch and pretty much left it at that.

In the world of knitting, that’s all you really need. Knit and purl are the foundation of all incredible stitches: cabling, eyelet, lace and any array of garments.

Now I’ve tried to crochet. I learned some basics back when I followed my friends to their church and they taught us all skills women need to know to keep their man happy: cooking, knitting, crocheting and the ability to quote bible verses at the drop of a hat. Yep. That’s what a man wants.

I tried a few chain stitches and I got the rhythm pretty quickly but my friends surpassed me and were making vets and sweaters five minutes after they first picked up a hook. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. The season for crochet has passed me by.

My grandmother crocheted and quilted. I still have the blankets she made from my childhood dresses. It was the 1950s and 60s and every little girl wore dresses. As a child I couldn’t figure out where my favorite clothing went and then it would show up in a blanket. I have a living reminder of my mother’s fashion sense.

Grandma endorsed my love of my dolls and crocheted blankets and pillows to comfort them through the cold night. She told me that once her eyesight had failed the only thing she really missed was being able to keep her hands busy and read her bible. I can still see the flick of her wrist as she crocheted. Her tan sewing basket was filled with yarns and hooks and mysterious contraptions like a do-hickey that threads needles.

My incredible friend Drew has a passion for all things creative. Endlessly curious and talented, he learned crocheting years ago but put it down. Recently he picked it back up again and found a knit/crochet group in Arvada and joined their ranks. He’s been crocheting with a speed that puts any self-respecting grandmother to shame.

I joined the group as well and it’s an interesting mix of people. They do service projects such as knitted knockers for mastectomy patients, hats and teddy bears to give to kids through the Arvada police department. There are some master knitters/crocheters in the group and their knowledge and skill is staggering. Got a question about Italian two-color cast-on or turning a heel on a sock? These ladies have the answer.

A local yarn store offered classes on how to knit socks and I sat in. Her name is Betty and she’s a master socker. I recorded videos of her doing the English long-tail cast on and posted them on You Tube. I use the cast-on all the time.
Her best wisdom: “A woman who can turn a heel can do anything.”

Turning a heel isn’t that hard. Laugh out loud.

I’ve been knitting baby blankets. I have a few stashed away and have passed on a couple to expectant friends at work. I made one specifically for one of the occupational therapists who took the time to pull me aside and say, “I don’t think people see just how hard your job is and how hard it is to be friendly all the time.”

She had a baby girl in April and I made her a blanket using one of my favorite patterns: holding hands, feeding ducks.

CO 141 stitches
Multiple of 4 stitches + 1 (i.e. 17, 21, 25, 29…)
Row 1 (RS): Knit all stitches
Row 2: P1, (MS, P1) repeat to end
Row 3: Knit
Row 4: P3, MS, (P1, MS) repeat to last 3 stitches, P3
Repeat these 4 rows.

I have to say I don’t like interchangeable needle systems. I’ve been using one for the last few years and I’ve come to dread it. The needles unscrew too easily and sometimes the cord ends won’t attach.

I’ve always loved Addi Turbos but they’re expensive. I found ChaiGoo needles and fell in love. They are stainless steel tipped and are smooth to use and they’re affordable. Addi tips can be too blunt to pick up the stitch easily, ChiaoGoos have fine tips and very flexible cords. Years ago I accidentally gave away my Addi needles and I still feel bad about it. Now I’m re-building my stash one ChiaGoo set at a time.

If you’re interested in getting knit patterns the two best places are Ravelry and Pinterest. I’ve downloaded countless patterns and have them catalogued in binders. Regardless which site I download from, all the patterns use the same building blocks: knit and purl.

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