How and when did you begin knitting/crocheting? was it a skill passed down through generations of your family, or something you learned from Knitting For Dummies? What or who made you pick up the needles/hook for the first time? Was it the celebrity knitting ‘trend’ or your great aunt Hilda?

I learned to knit when I was about eight from my mom, who had learned from her college friend Jan. (Mom, I trust you’ll correct me if I’m remembering the story wrong… and perhaps you can help jog my memory a little bit.) Confusingly, Jan knit ‘lefty’ from the right needle to the left. So Mom, mirroring her movements, learned to knit Continental, and that’s how she taught me. The only thing I remember knitting was a very small blanket for one of my brother’s stuffed animals. It was made of acrylic yarn in shades of baby pastels, and it had a few yarnover holes where they didn’t belong. I also remember that I couldn’t quite master the cast-on, and had to be reminded over and over again how to bind off.

That was it for me and knitting for years.

At some point around 2001 or 2002, I decided that I wanted to learn to knit. I bought two skeins of acrylic yarn in brownish and blueish, and a booklet entitled “I Can’t Believe I’m Knitting!” I didn’t get very far.

And then at the end of 2004, I found the yarn in the back of my crafts shelf and the urge to knit came back with a vengeance. I got a copy of “Stitch ‘n Bitch” and was very persistent until I managed to make some stitches. I’ve been at it pretty much non-stop ever since! The very first project I made was this basketweave scarf from the brownish and blueish acrylic yarn, shown here in its infancy. This is unfortunately the only picture I have of it. I sent it off to my grandma for her birthday present that year, and as far as I know, she’s worn and enjoyed it every winter since.

And then there was the spinning. The first time I went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, Janis and I stood in one of the tents admiring all the pretty yarn and fibre. I commented to her that the fibre was not at all dangerous to my wallet, because I didn’t know how to spin, and she agreed with me. Beautiful, not dangerous. Nope. Well, another woman overheard us and said, “If you have ten minutes, I can teach you to spin.” We both went home with some Romney roving and drop spindles… and now, a few years later, I’ve got three spindles and two wheels. I admit that I’m really not into the spindling so much as I am the wheel-spinning. There’s something about sitting at a wheel, slowly and steadily treadling away, that I find to be relaxing and meditative. (Two of six bobbins of the Corriedale are done now; I hope I have some time to spin this week!)

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3 Responses to “In Which the Pirate Talks About How it All Began.”
  1. MG Ellington says:

    I really loved this enty.

  2. Ninja says:

    Love it! We both started very similarily. :D

  3. Sue says:

    (Rachyl’s Mom) Yes, I did learn to knit lefty from my friend Jan. To this day she is a dedicated knitter and recently made me the most beautiful scarf to bring me comfort while I was recuperating from surgery.
    What Rachyl left out was the basketweave knit scarf she made is the same pattern that I used for the baby blanket I made when I was pregnant with her. It was four by four, made with baby colors-blue, pink, yellow and green-acrylic yarn. Unfortunately I did not keep it, but I did use the very same pattern to make a baby blanket for my first grandchild (Rachyl’s niece).
    I still have my old pattern books from back when I was in college. And so it goes, from generation to generation…

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