This is something I have just sent off to Betsan Corkhill, from Stitchlinks. Thought it might make a blog post. So here it is.
I’m 59. I’ve knitted since I was 6, having learned at school from a very stroppy teacher, who got very cross when I made a mistake. 6-year-olds do make mistakes! But my mum helped, and her knitterly friends helped too, so gradually I built up my techniques and confidence.
I never thought of knitting as anything but fun until I became ill in my forties with M.E. (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) (along with a list of other maladies!) and was medically retired.
At that point it became important to feel useful, even if only in a small way. Knitting provided that. For a long while I couldn’t even do that. I couldn’t concentrate for long enough to even cast on.
Gradually, though, I was able to knit more and more. I mostly knit by hand, but also had a variety of knitting machines over a ten year period. Machine knitting is a whole different skill. Not sociable – too noisy. And you really need to concentrate to make it all work. Once the machine is set up – just so – it’s fine, but then halfway through a piece of work it will knot up inexplicably, or all the stitches fall off the machine, or something else dreadful/terminal will happen. So I used to have to go away and knit in solitude.
Eventually I sold all the knitting machines (I had a maximum of three at one time) and reclaimed the space for a sofa-bed in our spare bedroom. I was able to redecorate the whole room, by myself (over a period of time, of course), reorganise the hand knitting stash, and now I’m back to my “first love”.
Hand-knitting is a very sociable pastime. You can sit and watch tv and knit, chat and knit, drink tea and knit.
It feels so therapeutic to be able to just sit down, pick up the needles and knit something. Even if it’s just one or two rows at a time, it all adds up. I keep my projects relatively small – the largest one recently was an Aran (shortish) jacket in Bergère de France Magic + in turquoise. I absolutely love it. It’s all cabled, and the cabling is done over 2 x 2 rib. Complicated, and took 9 weeks, but that’s ok.
Currently I’m knitting for various small children and babies. Very satisfying to do because nothing takes very long at all. I find it calming, productive, creative, and even when I don’t feel great, I can usually pick up my needles and knit. And if I can’t do that, I can browse Ravelry or my knitting magazines for ideas and inspiration. Lovely.
Eighteen months ago a local yarn shop opened up a seven-minute walk from our house. Excellent! I’m just so lucky. They have Stitch & Sip sessions three times a week – I try and go to one of them at least. I’ve made new friends, learned new skills (knitting with beads, in the round, shawlettes) and I love it.
I even cover the shop on a voluntary basis for the odd half day while the owner is teaching a course. I make cakes for their events and from time to time I bake for the Stitch & Sip sessions too. It’s lovely to feel involved and helpful and useful in the different little ways.
Gardening is important too, for similar reasons, but I’m only a fair-weather gardener. Knitting I can do whatever the weather!