Monday, 28 March 2011

Day Two: 29th March. Skill + 1UP

In the last year I have learnt a lot, by sheer dint of quantity of knitting.  I am not a super fast knitter, but over the last year I have had more time for knitting than the year before, when abi always seemed to be in my arms.  But then, around age 1, she started doing more of this:
Which meant I could cast something on safe in the knowledge it could get finished within a foreseeable period of time!  The jumper in that pic is a rainbow sweater I knitted a good while ago.  Its a bit short in the body now, but she still wears it over dresses or under dungarees.  I loved that jumper.  Anyway, the point it, having this bit of time in the evenings, meant I was able to produce pretty much all of abi's knitwear.  I have bought the odd thing, but because I liked it, rather than because she needed it.  And this has been a fantastic learning curve, not even so much in terms of knitting, but for what I have learnt about my relationship with knitting.  Knitting is no longer just a hobby, or an excuse to stroke pretty yarn.  At the moment, it is how I create warm things for my daughter, sometimes for me, and on the rare occasions I am permitted to do so, my son!  So this post isn't just about what I have learnt technically, but also, what I have gained in other ways from knitting (vomit)
I have learnt confidence in my ability to (usually) produce things which meet a need.  Dan needed a school hat.  It had to be grey, like his old hat.   It had to be not-itchy.  It had to not have any pattern or fussiness whatsoever.  So he chose the yarn, I cast it on, et voila...son has hat.  And it feels so good, to make something which is not only liked, but also fills a need, and will keep his precious ears warm, and be a bit of mama to wear around!
This is what I have learnt, that the dialectic proposition of idea+ needles/yarn = so much more than a garment. 
And technically, from knitting this hat, I got a good feel for shaping a hat well, so that is fits a head.  It shouldn't be a disc at the top with straight sides.  neither should it be a perfect sphere at the top, if sons head seems to be a bit flat up there.  Knitted top down, the hat can perfectly form itself to the shape of that head I birthed almost 9 years ago (and finally, I can no longer see obvious signs of the ventouse)

Another example is this dress (knitted from the same rowan coccoon yarn) which is pretty recent...technically it taught me much,  as I had never knitted top down before this year.  However, if you are scared of knitting top down (ie. improvising it), don't be.  There isn't much to it.  Cast on enough for a neckline.  Increase at regular intervals, placement of said increases depending on proportions required.  Continue for a while, form armholes and underarms or sleeves as desired, knit on a skirt.  This type of knitting is liberating in the extreme.

But even more liberating than the ad lib design, is the function and form of the dress itself, and the vibes that go with it.  Where, in a shop, would we have got a dress which is:
  • made of natural materials
  • not pink
  • comfortable and loose fitting
  • warm
  • pretty, rather than garish or lurid, in a style which I like to think lets abi's beauty show, rather than shouting about its own features
  • has no excess ribbons, sequins, patches, novelty flowers etc attache
  • in fact, it has no fastenings at all.   Fantastic.

And even better than that, no one slaved over its creation for a pittance.  I made it, when I wanted, and I enjoyed it.  That is why I think it (like all knitted things) has such good vibes.  Because no matter how hard we try to turn a blind eye to the fact, right now most clothes we see around us are made in sweat shops, shipped in massive containers across the globe, worth pennies, and seen as consumable, almost disposable.  And I do not care that I am proud of how much I have knitted this year (and there are always things I don't get a chance to blog about, like random toddler socks, odd toys, dishcloths, that lacy baktus which still hasn't had its own post...) because the more I learn about the technique of knitting, the more I learn about all its other beautiful qualities too.

Also, I have learnt to knit socks!
(well, I had knitted one before this year, but one sock does not make a pair!)


  1. Wow, this is a great post. A lot of what you said really rings true, from the satisfaction of fulfilling a need to being able to do more with what you could make than with what you could buy.

    Things made with love and with pleasure definitely have a good feeling to them, more than just for what they are physically.

    No vomiting on this front, promise.

  2. aw thanks hun! it almost had me welling up at one point, oh the shame that my life could be so dull that knitting can bring to the verge of tears!

  3. Brilliant post! I could feel your emotion when reading it and I totally "get it" - thanks for sharing so openly, it's lovely xx

  4. your kids are lovely.. love the dress you made for your girl.. and, the teal colored socks are too cute for words..

  5. thanks sarah, and knittgal I think they are pretty cute too...those teal socks are the worst for falling off though!

  6. Love your socks especially the pink and purple ones. Knitting is great.

  7. This is a great post and sums up a lot about how I feel about knitting. I love making something beautiful but USEFUL. I'm feeling the same way about sewing, which is still a relatively new hobby. I made a headband yesterday, because I needed one, and I had the fabric. I love that, just making something because you want it and knowing how it got here.

  8. Great knitted objects and lovely thoughts. I always think hand made things make the best gifts because it is not just a thing but something with love and time in it

  9. Lovely post Naomi - I love that dress and the socks are just gorgeous.

  10. I love the little socks and the beautiful dress you have made!

    Very nice post, with a a lot of truth in it!

  11. Those little socks are so cute! Knitting really does teach us alot, not only technical skills.

  12. I don't think there is any better feeling than seeing your child wearing something you made for them :)

  13. I'm totally with you on the pleasure of knitting something that is not only wanted but fulfils a real need! There's something extra in that :)

  14. aww thanks for all the lovely comments, glad I'm not the only knitting nutter!

  15. I did throw up in my mouth a little reading this (KIDDING). Your kids are pretty much adorable, and I second your feelings about why knitting is awesome.

  16. Hi there, very nice. Your thoughts on the fulfillment in knitting for a purpose really resonate.

  17. Hooray for knitting socks - small socks are a really good way for getting down the sock construction. Those socks are too cute!


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