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4/30 Learning to Knit

30 Day Knitting Challenge Day 4: How did you learn how to knit?

My Mom taught me how to crochet and knit when I was 6 or 7. She’s a seamstress (retired) and took on all sorts of sewing projects for her customers, mainly alterations & repairs but also creating garments from patterns, drapery, and upholstery/reupholstery. My grandmother & great grandmother (& so on, up the line) were seamstresses as well, so they passed things down to my mom. She had an old square honey jar on her desk behind her sewing machine that held her pinking shears, my great grandmother’s collection of hat pins, which I loved to take out and twirl, and size 15/10mm plastic straight knitting needles (white with baby blue end caps) that I desperately wanted to knit with.

Mom taught me to crochet first, I think because it’s an easier way to learn how to keep yarn under tension and you only have to manage that plus one tool, whereas with knitting you’ve got to manage two needles and the yarn. So I learned crochet first and still desperately wanted to knit with those big plastic needles, but when it came time to knit, she wouldn’t let me start with those because they’d be too big for me to manage. I’d heard that line many times before – my family nickname is Midge or Smidge and I’ve always been the smallest both by birth order and size – and so I just sucked it up and learned on the smaller needles. I’m guessing they were US 7 or 8 (4.5 or 5mm). When I did get proficient enough to use those big needles (i.e., my second project: I don’t have a lot of patience for waiting to try things), I discovered quickly that she was right, they were too big for me to manage. As I recall, I was also knitting much to tightly in a misguided effort to tension the yarn (I think a lot of beginners do this) and was trying to make the fabric feel more like crochet. I didn’t use size 15 needles again until 2003 or 2004.


7 responses to “4/30 Learning to Knit”

  1. PaperPuff Avatar

    You’ve got a good memory! Funnily enough you have reminded me of my grandmother’s knitting needle collection. All kept in a 1950s blue plastic roll up pouch, and definitely some blue and white needles with the size written in red on the tops. Much prettier than the dull old metal ones!

    1. Part of it is memory, and part of it is because my Mom still has that honey jar on her desk near her sewing machine. I haven’t seen those plastic needles though; I should ask if she still has them. But even the dull old metal ones have a certain prettiness to them, with the different metallic colors and the ends that look like snaps/buttons. I suppose it’s that their ugly alone but pretty in a collection, if that makes sense.

      1. PaperPuff Avatar

        It does. I like how they feel and the noise they make!

        1. Yes! But I don’t like to knit with them, lol. Although now that I’ve seen people knitting with one needle held between their arm and their side (can’t remember the name of that style) I’m tempted try it.

          1. PaperPuff Avatar

            Yes, I ‘ve seen that too years ago. I tried it but it was not for me.

  2. […] I have no idea how long it took me to finish my first knitting project. Knowing 6 or 7 year old me, I focused on it intensely for a time – a few weekends? – and then “finished” it before it was really done so I could knit with my Mom’s alluring big needles. (I wrote all about those needles yesterday.) […]

  3. […] Day 2: What is currently on your needles? Day 3: Do you have any other WIPs (works in progress)? Day 4: How did you learn how to knit? Day 5: How long did it take from the time your learned how to knit, […]

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