Day Six: Views Of Others, Views Of Yourself.
Write about another knitter or crocheter that you admire. This could be someone you know or used to know – an aunt that taught you to crochet or the school-teacher that used to run the after-school learn-to-knit club, or someone who you are aware of because of blogging or other areas of social media. Write about your feelings either for their work or what they bring to you as a knitter or crocheter. Reminiscences of the sound of your mother’s metal needles, or the description your grandad gave of what he’d knit as he sat on his bunk below deck in his sailor’s days are as precious as sharing the enjoyment of the work of a new indie designer or dyer. Spread your enjoyment to your readers.
Next, think about if anyone has ever told you how they feel about your knitting, positive or negative. Have you delighted strangers who have enjoyed telling you how they would sit with their grandmother who loved to crochet doilies, or have you had to withstand a little brother telling you repeatedly that knitting is for grandmas?
I thought about this topic for a long time, and eventually decided that there’s no one knitter or crocheter I admire… it’s the collective knowledge of the knitters, crocheters, and spinners on Ravelry. Sure, I knew how to knit before Ravelry. Mom taught me to knit and purl when I was eight, but I didn’t actually become a knitter until twenty years later.
But Ravelry connected me to a world of people who love yarn, and who are willing to share their knowledge. My yarnish motto is “Intrepid Knitting,” but being able to see how other people have solved the same problems I face has made me even more fearless when it comes to trying things with yarn. This fearlessness has boggled some non-knitter friends. One time I was casting on a toe-up sock with handspun yarn, and didn’t quite know the gauge. After the toe increases, it was obvious that the sock was going to be too big for my foot, so I ripped it back. “How could you just tear out your work?” they said, disbelievingly. But hey – it’s just yarn. It’s nothing to be scared of. And considering that I just took a break from writing this to tink and re-knit 120 stitches… well, if I could follow directions better, I wouldn’t have to do that. But I digress.
I started the blog in April 2007, two months before I joined Ravelry. Wow, seven years of blogging about knitting – who’d’a thunk? I was well into knitting at that point, even if all my yarn fit into one basket back then. Now it’s in big plastic bins I fear that it’s taking over, and I’m going to try really really hard to knit more than I buy for quite some time.
Anyway, Ravelry. Without the community there, I wouldn’t have knit nearly as often, or as wide a variety of items, or designed my own patterns, or taken up crochet, or met so many people. So far the best story there is the forum conversation I had with Sarah, when I saw that she lived in northern Virginia too:
me: Oh hey, I live in NoVA. Whereabouts are you?
Sarah: Just north of Haymarket.
me: …I live just north of Haymarket. On Bull Run Mountain.
Sarah: I live on Bull Run Mountain!
In subsequent conversation we discovered that we both like to drink beer and play with yarn, and decided that of course we simply must get together and do those things. Yep, I met someone who lives less than a mile from me on an international knitting and crochet forum. (Hi, Sarah!) How awesome is that?
So, about strangers noticing my knitting: I love that. I’ve never been ashamed to knit in public! If I’m feeling social, it’s been a good way to get conversations going. And if I’m feeling quiet and introverted, it’s a great way to avoid talking to strangers. Mostly, people seem to comment on self-striping yarn. It’s not the socks they’re amazed at, it’s the way the stripes just magically appear. I’ve explained that the yarn is dyed to make that happen, but most people don’t seem to get it. Apparently, self-striping yarn is the most impressive thing about it – and then, the number of needles I have dangling out of my knitting. “I learned to knit,” they’ll say, “but only on two needles. How many do you have there? That looks complicated!”
Sometimes, the simplest things are the most impressive.