I was preparing for an upcoming teaching engagement when a file (an actual paper file–how quaint) hit the floor and the contents flew across the workroom. Most of them were what should have been in the file–class notes. But there was also a name tag, my name tag, from the first year I taught at this same event–ten years ago.
Ten years? Surely not.
Seems it is so. I have been teaching knitting full time for a decade. That’s a significant slice of my total life span. And I was a knitter for more than a decade before that. Which means I have been knitting for nearly half of my life.
Sitting on the floor, putting the file back together, I thought about how I’ve come to take it for granted that at some point each day, I will be knitting. Okay, I might be crocheting. In any case, there will be yarn. Every day. As surely as there will be tooth brushing, lunch, or forgetting where I put my keys, there will be yarn.
It’s not that I can’t remember a time before knitting. Many of my students learned to knit as little kids, often to shut them up so mother or grandmother could get on with the housework or at least catch an episode of “Guiding Light” in relative peace.
By the time I came along, mothers had “Sesame Street,” and Big Bird taught me a lot of things, but not how to purl.
I was a college senior before I picked up a pair of needles for the first time. My first lesson was free, courtesy of a classmate who knew enough to turn out ski sweaters with patterned yokes and mittens with cables on the back.
I was already a budding eccentric, with a specialty in sepia tone quirks that would today be boringly hipsterish. I served friends tea from the china service I kept next to the fireplace in my room. I read Ruskin and cried. I wore bow ties and grew a beard. I wore a straw boater and played croquet.
When I saw knitting in progress, up close, I felt that I must try it. It was both picturesque and antiquated. It fit perfectly with the new self I’d hoped to create in the crucible of the Ivy League. I had gone in as an awkward kid from an ethnic (that was the word back then for more beige than white) working class family. I hoped to emerge, through better dress and the adoption of key manners and pastimes, as a hybrid of Abigail Adams and Oscar Wilde.
I cannot think of a dumber reason to learn to knit.
I don’t remember that I cared what I was knitting. I was enamoured of the picture of myself knitting. It went with the teapot and the fireplace.
My friend generously lent me needles, the end of a ball of brown alpaca, and her time. I cast on. I knit. I was knitting garter stitch, but did not know it was called garter stitch. I dropped stitches. I created accidental yarn overs and did not know they were yarn overs.
I had thirty stitches. Then I had twenty-seven. Then forty-three.
We were all busy little seniors, what with the usual round of classes plus the worry of What Comes Next; so I couldn’t keep bothering my friend with endless questions or appeals for help.
And I was running out of the brown alpaca yarn.
There was, she told me, a yarn shop in Harvard Square. I could go there for help, for books, for classes, for more yarn. If they had yarn and classes, I thought–I could learn to make sweaters. I wondered how many balls of yarn it would take to make a sweater. At least three, I thought.
So I decided to pay my first visit to a yarn shop.
But that’s a story for next time.
In the meantime…when was your first knitting lesson? And where?
Writer, illustrator, and photographer Franklin Habit is the author of I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book (Soho Publishing, 2016) and It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008) and proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on Internet. His publishing experience in the fiber world includes contributions to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Ply Magazine, Cast On: A Podcast for Knitters, Twist Collective, and Knitty.com.
He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, Stitches Events, Squam Arts Workshops, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.
These days, Franklin knits and spins in Chicago, Illinois, sharing a small city apartment with a Schacht spinning wheel, two looms, and colony of sock yarn that multiplies alarmingly whenever his back is turned.
Visit him at www.franklinhabit.com.
You must be <a href="https://blog.lionbrand.com/wp-login.php?redirect_to=https%3A%2F%2Fblog.lionbrand.com%2Fmy-first-time-the-lesson%2F">logged in</a> to post a comment.
Knit the typical garter-stitch scarf, complete with varying stitch counts and accidental yarn overs, as a young teenager. I did use two colors of yarn, though I don’t remember how I dealt with that. Probably cut and knotted it. Acrylic, of course.
Had kids, sewed, quilted. Then walked into a yarn store in Lansing, Michigan (ThreadBear Fiber Arts, a little bit of heaven on earth — there were shop dogs; what could be better than that?) owned by two amazing guys who happily addicted me to the most wonderful yarns (not, in general, acrylic) and never let on that much of what they taught might be considered advanced techniques. Like you, they made everything — including the fiddly and formidable — possible. 🙂
My first lesson was on the couch in Madison when my then not yet girlfriend now wife got tired of my fidgeting when we watched tv. I now knit lace on airplanes which still keeps the bouncing in check. That shop in Harvard square was wonderful but sadly gone 10 years now.
I made two projects as a small child they came out so good! One was a rectangle that I sewed into a baby bunting for my doll and the other was a skirt for said doll, both done in stocking stitch (I was a terribly annoying child to want to know purl). Sadly they were destroyed in storage other wise Iâ€™d be showing off my awesome childhood stitch skills on Ravelry. These days one needs pictures or no one believes you.
Diana Hensley Tackett
My first project, well my first lesson, I was around 9 and my dad took me to a friend of his whose wife knit. I can always remember having some kind of craft project around. When I flew offshore to the oil platforms I taught myself to crochet. The guys out there would kid me and ask if all the pilots were going to start â€œknittingâ€. My reply was, if they want to, my dad did.
First time I knit? Can’t remember, it was so long ago, but I do know my Mum had to shut me up somehow. I was always asking difficult questions. I do remember, in 1962, walking around the school grounds with knitting and a ball of wool tucked under my armpit. The teachers on yard duty were doing the same thing. My first project was ‘a scarf’ – which ended up the shape of one gore of a doll’s skirt. It didn’t discourage me, and I continued to knit – occasionally, at first, but always. Eventually, everywhere – at Uni AGMs, on buses, in the doctor’s waiting room, at the coffee shop…
After several jumpers (I was always making jumpers) I decided to find an online group to ease the loneliness of sickness, and from there, it’s been a steep learning curve. Stitch patterns, resizing written patterns (one has to do something when one is large and patterns are written for small people), adjusting pattern designs to suit what I want – what wonderful joy.
Keep your writing coming, Franklin. Wonderful stuff.
My first lesson was with my mother, who learned to knit in the convent where she was raised by sisters in Italy. It was snowing and my two younger siblings were napping. My mother taught me to knit the baby things and she knit my things.. It was over forty years ago and now I knit for grandbabies
When I was born, we lived in an upstairs apartment of a house that had been converted. The owner of the house, our landlady, lived below us. I fell in love with this woman and she encouraged me to call her “Nanny” because that’s what her grandchildren called her. Even after we moved, I would go back to visit and spent weeks with her during the summer months. She sat by my bedside when I was ill and fed me ice chips. I worshiped the water she walked on. And one summer, when I was getting ready to turn 8, she taught me to knit. My ACTUAL grandmother was jealous of our relationship and insisted that I ALSO learn to crochet, which I finally did after several years of struggling (obviously, I didn’t want to learn!) but knitting has always been my favorite. I now teach others the way she taught me, by sitting at their side and showing them what they’d be doing, then handing them their own needles and having them copy me.
My 1st knitting class was part of a PTA-sponsored class for parents at the Waldorf School my daughters were attending. The children learned to knit in 1st grade but many of us parents didnâ€™t know how & wanted to learn too. We made wool potholders to start. â€œIn thru the front door, once around the back, out thru the front door & off pops Jack!â€
My gramma Helen was a crocheter and lived with us. I mostly remember rugs for the house and vests as clothing. I was left-handed and found it difficult to learn from her. Sometime after she left this world, I tried it again and had success. I am now part of a wonderful creative group that has done yarn bombing in our community with both knitters and crocheters. One of our members made her transition from this physical plane and her family gifted me with her beading and fiber supplies. So, I picked up the needles and am learning in her honor- basic knit and purl stuff. My straight pieces are as curvaceous as the variety of my life.. And, I have my wonderful creative sisters ever available for consultation and heart felt guidance.
My first lesson was crochet, and I was in third grade, so 8 years old. The eye doctor put me on drops to dilate my eyes for 2 weeks, which meant I could only see as far as my hands. My mom thought I would be terribly bored without TV, so showed me what she knew about crochet. I made doll clothes and little animals, even something called a ‘shrink top’ (a tight tank you wore over a sleeved shirt) but I never had any respect for crochet. I always thought it looked too homemade. Eventually, my grandmother grew tired of my asking, put down her crochet hook and at least showed me how to hold the needles. Somehow, together we managed a long-tail cast on and I’ve been knitting ever since. Oh yes, there will be yarn. Every. Single. Day.
Well, I was self taught. My knitting infancy began with KnitList, my laaaand! It is possible that I am not a teenager anymore. There was no Ravelry. As gigantic as it has become now, then, it had not yet been born because the founders were probably in middle school at that point.
There was this new thing, though, that helped greatly: YouTube. Because this new knitter was coming from crochet, and was not a rule follower, purling was always done in a way that made more sense to her, by simply picking through the lead leg, rather than inserting the needle then wrapping counter clockwise . Elizabeth Zimmerman said this was wrong, so very wrong, so I figured she didnâ€™t like me very much. However, Annie Modesit said it was juuuust fine, so I believed Annie. This method would lead to consternation with regular patterns until I understood stitch mechanics. Thank you, Annie.
My first piece of knitting was a simple garter dishcloth that resembled the state of Texas in both shape and size. There was a lot of swearing.
I joke today, 65 years later, that my grandmother taught me to knit to keep me off the ceiling, but it is the truth. 1954 and my father was recovering from pneumonia and that anaphylaxis that only an allergy to penicillin can bring. Nana came across the city to take care of me and my baby brother and Dad while Mom went to work. I was watching a Saturday morning circus program. The act of the day was Chinese acrobats, balancing on the top of a pyramid of items, the top most acrobat on a large ball. I tried to imitate them and piled as much loose furniture as I could onto the coffee table and climbed up with my little platform rocker, about four inches from the ceiling. I suspect that the only reason she didnâ€™t scream when she found me is that sheâ€™d raised six children of her own as well as countless foster children.
I had my first knitting lesson that afternoon. Size nine needles, worsted weight yarn, cast on 45 srirches and knit 90 rows, cast off, a perfect afghan square. Saturday mornings Iâ€™d sit and hold Hanks of yarn out for her to wind into balls while I watched cartoons. Saturday afternoons Iâ€™d knit garter stitch squares to be made into blankets for the local veterans hospital. When I was more experienced I learned how to knit mittens from memory. I never knew it was difficult to learn to use double points I just always knew how. None of my other cousins learned to knit from her while Nana was alive, just me, and I still knit and love yarn because of her.
I don’t remember when I learned to knit, or who taught me. The first project I remember was a scarf I knit for my boyfriend, later husband, while we were in college, 19730, I think. I still have the scarf, although my husband passed from cancer 29 years ago. Later he gave me a Christmas gift of crochet lessons so I could crochet a ripple baby blanket for our first child. After that I left it alone for many years, but now I’m back to doing both. I still don’t attempt anything really fitted, but I love the relaxation of working the needles and yarn.
I love your writing, Franklin. There’s a wonderful balance of serious and funny in it.
My first knitting lesson was from a magazine when I was supposed to be cleaning the bathroom.
My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was around 6 but I wasnâ€™t all that enamored with it. Mom crocheted but somehow could not get knitting.
I crawled out of the bathroom to the linen closet right outside, got 2 crochet hooks and thread and then crawled back into the bathroom. Using the backends of the hooks and the magazine I taught me how to knit.
When mom realized I was taking far too long to clean she checked on me. She was so excited she helped me finish cleaning and then took mr to the dime store to buy 2 pair of needles and some yarn.
The first thing I remember completing was 4 needle mittens. They were so big anyone in the family could wear them. Several of my classmates also knit so we formed a group at the high school. We even made the front page of our little hometown paper.
My mom finally found a woman who could teach her to knit (I tried and gave up). She went on to make some beautiful complicated things.
Have lead a â€œhigh fiberâ€ life with crochet, sewing, needle point, quilting, cross stitch and even tatting. Have taken a number of classes through the years. Have decided knitting is my drug of choice as I always return to it.
I had just turned 8 and had to sit for an exam on all 3rd-grade subjects over the summer, so that I would be promoted to the 4th grade a year in advance (because I got quite bored at school). One of the subjects was Knitting, and my mom, who was anything but an expert,, taught me the basics. Then at school we were always knitting squares for blankets to donate. Years went by, I took up the needles again when my first child was about to be born, and I knitted a beautiful blanket for her. Now, after 40 years of my first lesson with my mom, my 4th kid is the same age I was back then, and yesterday I started teaching her (all my kids go to that same old school, only Knitting is not a subject any more). And now, when my job is all-intellectually biased, I spend summer afternoons (it’s summer here in Argentina) knitting with 2 co-workers and friends from our college days, knitting and talking over the yarn and the matÃ©.
I â€œhadâ€ to learn to knit because my best friend was a knitter and of course, everything she did, I wanted to do too. I learned both knit and pearl the same day and began a hat with rib stitch. I remember the purple variegated yarn and the size 8 needles. One of my nieces, in a fit of anger, pulled the piece off the needles, smeared lipstick all over it, and then picked up the grate over the floor vent from the furnace, and threw the whole mess into what she thought would be the furnace. Old house, the vent was the furthest from the furnace, and had a bend about 18 inches down. So, yarn, needles, and partially finished hat covered in lipstick were all recovered. That niece will be 72 in a couple of weeks and she is still apologizing! I did go on to become an accomplished knitter but thatâ€™s a story for another time.
My mom always knitted, We all had hand knit sweaters. When i was 8 i received a Barbie learn to knit kit. Pink circular box, Size 10 pink knitting needles and two balls of yarn. I had played around with knitting before, but now I had to follow directions! I made a black sleeveless top and a blue skirt for my Bouffant haired Barbie and I was hooked. I remember a doll sized red evening gown with fuzzy yarn, where I had to drop stitches ON PURPOSE and unravel them to the hem to make the skirt flare out! I knitted in high school, classes, on airplanes, hospital waiting rooms. I’ve unraveled sweaters to make a different sweater because I liked the yarn so much.. Yarn and needles are therapy for me!
My grandmother taught me to crochet with yarn. She liked to make yarns out of fabric strips. The strips weren’t new fabric, they were made from old housedresses, grandfather’s worn out shirts, anything handy of course. My grandma was frugal from having lived through the Great Depression and my grandfather losing his job as a coal miner. Anyway, it was great just being by her side and having her attention.
Later on, my mother taught me to knit, and then introduced me to the mysteries of the purl stitch! Wow! After that, I pretty much learned on my own from books. My first big project was a two color afghan, with a Greek Key design. I didn’t know it was “advanced”, I just thought it was pretty, so I made it. Wow.
Now, I teach others to knit and crochet, and have a knit/crochet group that meets at our local library twice a month. The membership is fluid…sometimes we have as few as 6 show up, and other times we have 18-20. Whenever anyone stops by our tables, we ask them if they knit or crochet, and if the answer is no, the next question is would they like to learn? We get a lot of new members that way!
I enjoy your stories so much, and I hope to meet you one day.
Sally J Braun-Jackson
Grade 7 Home Ec class, 1974: a long scaf like the one in the opening credits of the Mary Tyler Moore show. My scarf was like Franklin’s, full of accidental yarn overs, dropped stitches, picked up stitches. I got about two-thirds through the project and needed my mom to help finish it. She was also a home ec teacher, though not my teacher, with impossible standards. Of course, the scarf was finished in a flash. I got a C-. I didn’t knit until grad school when I learned how to make slippers from an elderly lady at a church craft group. I’ve been addicted ever since!
I have been crocheting since I was 8 years old. My mother taught me how after I discovered a How to… book along with steel crochet hooks and celluloid knitting needles. She only knew how to crochet as I think someone gave her the tools and the book when she was expecting me. She taught me to chain and I made lots of â€œropeâ€ for my toy horses. We only had fine sized baby yarn to use, so my chains were pretty tiny. And I found one recently that must be about 16 feet long, and 3 chains to the eighth inch.(1/8â€)
Cut to my senior year of high school. I was a good crocheter, not great, but I wanted to knit as well. With grandma about 600 miles away I didnâ€™t have a teacher. (She did both knit and crochet and had outfitted the grandkids with an assortment of wearables.) My Home Ec class (an elective) encouraged all sorts of crafts. I got a Coats & Clark How to Knit leaflet and taught myself to do the knit stitch. I had to ask the teacher how to do purling. To me it looked like â€œbackwards knittingâ€ and I didnâ€™t understand it. There was a hat and scarf leaflet so I began on a scarf. Finishing that, I found a sweater pattern in a teen magazine that I wanted to make. It was knit side to side with a V neck. I should have started on the back rather than tackling the front. I used 3 different colors to make stripes, so biting off more than I should have on my first garment.
It ended up not working out so I took it apart and made crochet squares out of that yarn, plus a few more skeins, and I still have that afghan. I also quit making sweaters for anyone. My projects are afghans (they get donated every year), hats, scarves, and fingerless mitts.
Franklin I love all your writings and whenever I see some thing you wrote I stop and read it. I am a self taught knitter and crocheter learned from books years ago. I am 72 now and still favor knitting. Keep up the good work you do your knitter friend Nina
B. J. Licko-Keel
I learned to knit when I was about 8 years old, and I learned how from my younger sister. She and her best friend would sit every afternoon after school with the friend’s grandmother, who had dementia and a tendency to wander away from home, get on a streetcar, get lost, and eventually return home (sometimes with injuries) in a police squad car. The grandmother loved having the girls visit her and taught them to knit (but she could not remember how to purl). So, my little sister showed me what she learned because she knew I would be envious.I had to pay her, but she did show me how. Then, a little later, I talked my mother into buying a how-to Coats and Clark book I had seen at the local Woolworth’s from which I taught myself to purl. It wasn’t that hard because my mother (who was a product of a lady’s finishing school in Europe where the major was needlework of all kinds) had already taught me how to crochet several years earlier (another story for later). After making a scarf, I again cajoled my mother to buy bright, kelly-green yarn and knitting needles from the same Woolworth’s in order to make a cardigan. The cardigan went well until I got bored. So, my mother (whose education strangely did not include knitting) had me show her how; she finished it and then went on to do a lot of beautiful projects that combined both knitted and crocheted pieces. I have been knitting and crocheting–and teaching friends–ever since and now realize that I have been using these skills as meditation for a somewhat checkered lifetime.
Our 4th grade class was learning about organizations. Mrs. McGowan, our teacher, had us form clubs. The boys started a checkers club and the girls started a knitting club. Mrs. McGowan taught us to knit and purl. After a patch that resembled the continent of Africa, including the lakes, we made a popular 1950’s hat that tied under the chin. My mother bought me good yarn and a pattern book to make myself a cardigan. The finished sweater looked nice and fit my tiny grandmother better than me. Fast forward many years of learning and teaching I have enjoyed knitting for family, friends and occasionally myself. I enjoy reading your articles as well as your book reviews.
Judy Gram Cracker Ritter
I dared tell my grandmother I was bored. I was 8. I put away dishes, weeded her garden…fending off obnoxious geese, then came in, “Sit down. Calm down.” , and was taught to knit. 57 years ago and I’ve never stopped. Dearest Mr. Habit, thank you for making me laugh.
Ah, so your friend was a SHE!. I had been wondering… Anyway, my first knit lessons were at the Woolgatherer in Washington, D.C. from a wonderful young man (Eric), who was an engineer by training. That was back in the early 19990s. After my first burst of cardigans and scarves, I stopped for many years as life got the better of me. I always wonder what might have happened to me if I had learned to knit earlier in my life…
Ken del Po
I learned to knit from someone who was a friend of mine of 20 years. We bought some wooden needles and some beautiful Noro Silk Garden. Then she taught me to knit on some really horrible acrylic that did nasty things to my skin. I figured it out, eventually. And eventually, she became a foaming at the mouth born again Christian and ended our friendship that had lasted over 20 years. Learning to knit is a bittersweet memory.
I’m still knitting though, And have an impressive yarn stash for someone who only learned in 2003.
My first knitting project–after practice scarves–was a dickie. That kinda gives away my age. It was fire engine red and scratchy. My mother taught me–she taught me to sew too. I am one of five and the only one who ever showed any interest in knitting or sewing and I have kept at both most of my life.
My learning to knit story starts with little house on the prairie, both the TV show and the book. The teacher I had for 2nd grade read the book to the class at the end of the school year. It was the same year the TV show premiered. It seemed like a good idea to learn how to knit. Trouble was my parents weren’t going to pay for lessons for a kid. The money was for real needs like nursing home care for a grandma and utilities and food on the table. My mom, however, was trying to learn. I have no idea how she was doing. I picked up her stuff and spent weeks learning how to cast on. I spent another couple of months trying to get the knit stitch to work. Binding off was the easiest. We won’t discuss how long it took to learn to purl. I spent many happy hours knitting and tearing out my work to be knit again another time.
Oh my goodness, I think I bought my first sweater quantity of yarn at the same shop in Harvard Sq, now long gone. I taught myself from a book because I lived across the country from my grandmother who knit everything for me that I asked for, but couldn’t “just make it plain” to save her life, so everything had beautiful extra knitterly details that were not part of my “totally not girly because I’m doing a Science PhD and can’t afford to be girly in my all-too-macho lab” look. I still have that Harvard Sq yarn shop sweater somewhere, chosen based on the shop sample, knit in a cotton boucle yarn that hid all manner of sins. I even used to wear it back when I looked cute in a cropped sweater.
I learned to knit from my grandmother when I was in single digits. She gave be a pair of needles one of which had a bent tip. She gave me some yarn, showed me how to cast on and how to knit. She told me to be certain that I had the same number of stitches in each row. This was an order and I knew she would be checking the work. Every time I made a mistake, she had me rip it out and start again. Eventually, I recognized my own mistakes and would just do it myself. I counted every row. After I had made a great deal of progress, she taught me how to fix mistakes without frogging. I learned how to count while I knit and to divide the stitches by 2’s, 3’s 5’s, 7’s, 13’s etc. I had to quit for awhile.
I learned to knit when I was about 17 yrs old – a junior in high school – back in January of 1978. I was taking a clothing class as an elective in high school and after a certain number of semesters, we’d filled our quota on sewing, so we were taught how to knit as part of the curriculum. After we learned to knit, we were free to create, sew, knit whatever we wanted. We were even offered the option to learn to crochet, but it was purely optional, so I didn’t learn to crochet until my early 20s.
My love of yarn started as a kid and a neighbor lady who taught me how to properly wind a ball of yarn from a skein – don’t pull it tight and keep moving the ball and keep it squishy. Once I mastered that she handed me a hook and a ball of Red Heart Super Saver yarn in an eye searing, steel wool feeling red. I never got beyond a chain. Move forward to 12 years ago. I saw some Knifty Knitters plastic looms. I thought “what the heck” and bought a small round loom and a skein of a soft black & white acrylic. I made myself a foot long three inch wide tube scarf (I still wear it!). I was hooked! I bought more of the Knifty Knitters looms (round and flat) and I was off on my adventure in acrylic land. Hats, scarves, baby blankets, paneled afghans, I was a plastic looming fool working with plastic yarn. Then I discovered the Authentic Knitting Boards – one step up from the plastic looms. Beautiful wood and shiny metals pins to wrap the yarn around. And my work looked like knitting – on both sides! Still working with acrylic yarn, I was now making wonderfully squishy baby blankets. And then I saw it. My first LYS. It was a tiny shop packed to the gills with jewel-toned little bundles of snuggly animal hairs. I was in knitting Nirvana! I had toted in my 28 inch long knitting board along with my plastic yarn but I was entranced by the pointy sticks. I knew I had found my calling. I signed up for my first class – Beginning Knitting – and bought my supplies. I made the sorriest looking Grandma’s Favorite Washcloth but I was hooked. My 2nd class was sock knitting and that’s where I am now. Still knitting socks – 8 pairs on needles as I type.
My grandma didn’t know how to knit, but she sewed and crocheted and tatted. I think I learned to knit from a booklet I bought at BiMart with some acrylic red heart yarn. I lived in the sticks, but back in the 80s, we did actually have a local yarn shop run by a french woman in her 60s and then 70s before she retired and closed it. I remember going in a lot and then writing to her to practice my French when I went off to college. Never one to start small, I made a V neck garter stitch short sleeved sweater. It stretched horribly. Ugly yarn, ugly sweater. Awful. I think I wore it twice. Then I made a crop 3/4 sleeve sweater that I really liked, and wore that a lot. It had a slipped stitch texture and two different yarns, and they were alternated. I’ve always just made whatever it was I wanted, without worrying over much about difficulty. Why make something boring? I never did like scarves.
I was taught to crochet and sew at a young age by my mother. However all I could crochet was granny squares which got quite boring to teen me. My mother and I tried to learn to knit together but could not figure it out. After I left home for a year and then moved in with my grandma (who only embroidered ) was when I taught myself from a book. Then took a beginners class to break any awful habits and ended up having the teacher to myself because no one showed. From then on out I was a knitter! My first project was a messanger bag and my second was a sweater.
I crocheted for a long time first. So long, in fact, that I could fall asleep crocheting and wake up having completed the row. But the older gals in my crafty group poked fun at me for not knowing how to also knit and so I decided to learn. My very first attempt was guided by one of them, but I couldn’t wrap my head around the mechanics. Crochet is tying knots, so what keeps knitting stuck together? My grip was also way too tight, and I had difficulty getting the yarn to move enough. I ended up in knots.
My second attempt was in secret, and much more successful. I took a weekend and taught myself how knitting works with a diagram from the internet, then I knit for 30 hours straight to make sure I wouldn’t forget it. I made a pillow out of the resulting swatch, which definitely was not the same size all the way through.
In the little girls group at church. Cotton, # 2 single point needles, 30 stitches. Slip the first one, knit the rest. Turn, Repeat. For as long as the cone of yarn went. We were knitting bandages for the Red Cross. Red Cross like the knitted cotton ones because they could go through the sterilizer a few times before falling apart. 40 years later my Mom presented me with a cone of cotton, # 2 single point needles and 24″ of knitted bandage.
I first picked up knitting needles the year I was 12. The girl’s group at church consisted of about 6 of us at that age. Our teacher was a delightful English lady who taught us how to knit what she called “proper” knitting. As I sit here over 50 years later, I assume she meant English style. My mother bought me size 8 pink aluminum Susan Bates needles and a skein of charcoal grey Red Heart yarn. (it was wool then). I knit miles and miles of what I called ‘stiring.’ It was basically a scarf that started with about 30 stitches cast on and in the end, looked a lot like your attempts. I didn’t know how to stop, so I would rip it out and do i again, and again, and again. I finally asked the lady at church how to bind off…. My first actual knitting project was a toddler sized neck down Fisherman’s knit sweater for the baby I was carrying. I learned how to cable, rib, do the seed stitch, and some that I don’t remember now… I finished it, and he wore it… I haven’ looked back And I continue to learn all the time.
An intarsia steel grey skull and crossbones on a brown, tweeded background, made from yarn and needles hanging around the costume shop. My technique/ helpdesk was my construction textbook that included CO, BO, and the line “Hand knits are generally impractical for most show build structures.” When I’d finished, I took it to the LYS and asked the owner what I should do with it because it was my first project. She looked at me strangely, laughed, found me a more comprehensive learn to knit book, and sent me on my way. 25 years, 2 spinning wheels, a basement dyeworks, innumerable projects, a 501c3 cancer charity, and 1 knitting tattoo later, and I’m pretty sure I’m in it for the long haul!
Tried to learn from a library book in my late 20s. Pre internet it was surprising how many knitting books and magazines at the library had the how-to instructions ripped out. Eventually found a class and decided to do a baby sweater for my little niece. It had intarsia that I ended up double stitching… The instructor was reluctant to help a novice tackle intarsia, probably a reasonable thought. Took an Icelandic sweater class and bought the wool at the Women’s Industrial and Educational Union shop in Boston. Remember that? That was a good sweater.
I’ve never had a formal lesson, but a lot of one-on-one help with friends, learning and teaching. My mom and I helped each other learn when I was in first grade. I was better at deciphering the pictures, or at least that’s what she told me. I’ve been knitting on and off ever since, most consistently in the last ten years. Socks, scarves, a sweater, stuffed creatures, etc. I started a beautiful lace shawl for my mom when she was recovering from a stroke, but suddenly she no longer needs it.
My paternal grandmother taught me first cross stitch, then more advanced embroidery, then how to use her treadle sewing machine. She also had a modern sewing machine, but felt I would have better control on the treadle. I was four, not quite five. The next summer she started me on knitting. She sat next to me showed me how to handle the needles and yarn and patiently showed me how to knit! That summer sticks out in my mind as I was not quite six and she paaaed away that fall.
My maternal grandmother had attended a convent school in Newfoundland for five years. Her family lived in IL and she was six of seven girls. She learned how to manage a household and servants. This was pre and post WWI. As she did not want to become a nun, they also taught her typing! After my other grandmother had passed, she took over my education of all things considered feminine. We picked up on the knitting and continued it until I moved to NY at age eight. Then everything took a back seat for several years. In early high school I met the mother of a friend of mine who was in bed rest while pregnant. She was knitting! I got my stuff out, went to some store and got back into knitting. This continued for awhile, but I was also making clothes for myself and a very active sewer.
After college and marriage my husband and I loved to take road trips. Knitting was again a natural for these trips. Then I changed jobs and knitting fell away for many years. My husband passed, I moved to FL and out came the needles. So here I am years later happily knitting whenever I can.
During my childhood I learned crochet, not knittng. I didn’t keep up with the crochet, finding other crafty outlets such as macrame and paper collage. Fast forward to my mid-forties, when I became seriously ill and was pretty much either bedriden or on the couch. There’s only so much reading I could do on a daily basis, and daytime TV sucked. I decided to try crochet again, using library books to relearn that skill. I did pretty well, but I liked the look of knitting so much more! But had no clue how, so it was back to the library. I didn’t even know enough to be helped by EZ’s books. I found some children’s books, which gave me a basic idea or two. Then I found Debbie Stoller’s Stitch ‘N Bitch, and found my teacher! I loved her humor and relaxed attitude; the drawings were kooky but clear. Now, I’ve been a knitter for over a decade, and try to knit daily.
My mother taught me when I was around 5 years old, but I had been holding the yarn for her to wind balls even before that. I probably was taught because I wanted to make clothes for my dolls and she wouldn’t let me near the sewing machine. I don’t even think that I seamed anything but closed my creations with safety pins that could be removed and the piece of knitting restyled for another look. That was in the mid-late 1950s and I never really stopped. I made my first sweater at maybe 9 or 10, a baby set. By the time I was 12, I had tackled cables, lace and fisherman’s rib, making myself an Aran vest and my father a sweater that I have now. My aunt taught me to crochet when I was about 8 and I’ve learned sewing, quilting and fiber dyeing along the way but knitting is my first love.
I did not have a lesson. I was 12 and loved Dr. Who. It was the 80s and I wanted to have a scarf like the Doctor’s. I got a Vogue Knitting book from the library and a pair of needles and LOTS of multi-colored yarn from the local Gibson’s (like a pre-Walmart). I sat on the couch and followed the illustrations in the book. And I actually did it! Had a 12-foot striped scarf. For the next 20 years, I had no idea that there were other ways to cast on, other stitches, other methods for holding or throwing yarn. There was no LYS. After college and grad school I got a temp job in an office over a REAL yarn shop–and my world changed. So glad.
My first attempt at knitting was in fifth grade. the art teacher decided that out class should knit an afghan to donate to the Red Cross. we were instructed to knit garter stitch squares. The yarn was scratchy and splitty. My square and that of many of the other girls was a disaster. My Mom tried to teach me but I was too frustrated. many of the boys in our class had beautiful squares in advanced stitches. It came out that the Moms were knitting for them because “this isn’t for boys (it was 1965).” I was too angry to learn.
Fast forward a few years. 1968-crochet vests were the hot style. My Nana saw one in Alexander’s and decided we could make one at home. And we did. A few years later I re-learned knitting and I’ve never stopped.
I learned to knit when I was 5. I am sure of that age because my sister is 4 years younger than me and she was crawling at that time. This was not long after the war, late 40’s, so I was given a ball of twine and when I knitted all into an unrecognizable something, she would take it out and roll it back into a ball. This was probably to save her better yarn for her or for later. When I got better at it we decided I would make a scarf. That took longer and I got bored so she finished it and we put it away for a couple of years. Later I decided to make myself a sweater and we bought a kit. That was the real beginning and I am still going strong.
learned to knit garter stitch as a child of 6 or 8 years. didn’t know how to bind off but did know how to decrease so decreased from both ends til one stitch left making house shaped shapes. gave up and never knitted again til i was 30 and have knitted ever since. i too knit some every day. am 81 years old so have been knitting for 50 years now.
happily live in western mass so can avail myself of the wonderful yarn store known as Webs or yarn.com to those who can only shop from them on line.
enjoyed the blog and the other comments.
At my nana’s side. I was 8 years old and in fourth grade. She would buy skeins of yarn in different colors at the five and dime store in the next town. Then she would knit mittens. Mountains of mittens. She knit for her grandkids, for neighborhood kids, and some to sell in her shop: an old house that was half deli counter (best chicken salad sandwiches ever!) and half odd-tiques (this and that, old and new). She sat in her chair in the living room with her basket of yarn and growing pile of mittens beside her. I sat on the floor mesmerized. She made solid-color mittens until the skein neared the end, then she would pull out another almost-empty skein from her basket and knit mittens with stripes of various widths. I was fascinated Click, click, click…she was so fast! Two matching mittens were neatly stacked together with a bit of contrasting yarn threaded through the center of each pair like sewing on a button, then secured with a knot and a tiny bow. She would let me fumble with her scarf needles and leftover yarn while she raced around and around with her double-pointed ones. My first achievement was a square, probably used as a coaster. She also taught me to read stitches, to see how stockinette is different from garter stitch — another coaster. Then we had to move, transferred to another state. My yarn interest was set aside about four years. I didn’t become a serious knitter until my kids were born. Garments for babies are quick to make! And all the new textures and colors! I was hooked, I mean needled. What fun! But I will always miss sitting on the floor watching my amazing grandmother.
Learn to Knit, Coats and Clarks, 1970. I knit a scarf and a stocking cap for my brother’s girlfriend. In San Diego Gull colors–orange and royal blue. Woof. I quit for a very long time and came across that very same booklet in my library of craft books. Took up the same needles, and knitted my first colorwork, a hat for me in my own handspun, naturally hand-dyed yarn. Still knitting and spinning, and inspired half a dozen friends to pick it up. My teacher knits lace on #1 or #2 needles. Never going that route, but shawls, scarves, socks, fingerless gloves, felted bags, and even a sweater have come off my needles. I still have that crazy little book in my library.
At the age of four, I decided I HAD to learn how to knit and crochet, so I demanded that my mother teach me. We can pinpoint my age because mom was pregnant and I couldnâ€™t fit on her lap. We managed the knit stitch. Purling made me cry. Crocheting went slightly better.