Wander: Where It All Began

Recently, I’ve been taking stock of my knitting life. Rearranging bins as I get ready for a move (down the road!), I remember where and when I bought particular skeins, who was with me, what was going on in my life at the time. Sometimes I don’t remember any of those facts, just that there was something alluring about those tiny speckles or the fluffy plying twist.

Eventually, I unearthed my beginner swatch made of 100% acrylic pond-green yarn. I was in college when I taught myself on a whim. Who knows if I saw a post on Pinterest or a blurb in a magazine. I sat in my room with a learn to knit book and needles, and practiced each technique until I knew it by heart. My swatch is two feet long, leans this way and that. A record of increasing, then decreasing, garter and stockinette. It was wildly soothing once I got the hang of it, I was in that state of flow.

I drove past a local yarn store and stopped in, not knowing what to expect, or realizing that I had driven past it a billion times before. I left with a skein of Malabrigo Rasta and circular needles. I went back for Blue Sky Alpaca Silk and attempted a lace scarf because I had no idea it was any more difficult than stockinette. (There’s something to be said for bold learning!). I returned for MadelineTosh Merino Light and was hooked. It humbled me, too – I always said fiber arts would be the very last art I’d be interested in, if ever. So glad I was wrong. I still love pond-green, lace, single-ply, learning boldly. And I love sharing it all with you.

I asked around at the shop for stories of how each of us got hooked, here’s what they told me:

Jenny: My best friend, Katie, bought a lesson for my birthday (Even though I never get anything for her). 3 months later I decided to move from St. Louis to Atlanta and found a job posting for an “illustrator with knitting experience”…an extremely weird combo to pop up. And now here I am! All thanks to my best friend of 27 years who I STILL haven’t knit a dang thing for.


Emily: My Mom taught me the basics when I was in 6th grade (1998). We sat together many nights practicing on some basic scarves and pot holders with a few loud colors of worsted acrylic on straights – it was perfect.

Tracey: I learned in the early 2000s during the Stitch ‘n Bitch knitting resurgence. I was in my late 20s and living in Boston. I went to a local yarn store in Jamaica Plain on my lunch break and the owner sat me down on the shop couch with some yarn and a pair of needles and taught me the knit stitch, and I was hooked immediately!

Jess handspunJessica: I loved seeing so many pretty handspun yarns online, and wanted to learn how to make them as well, but thought maybe I should know what to do with said handspun yarn first. I picked up knitting and gave it a try, I had a difficult time of it and put that project away for a while, but a few months later I picked it back up again and things clicked, and I became obsessed!

Erin: I had crocheted previously and scoffed at my friend for knitting because “why are there two needles and neither of them even has a hook and wow that seems slow.” I met my now husband in college, we eventually move in together. It’s Christmastime and I get out my heirloom handknit stocking – the one my mom’s coworker knit for me and every member of my family when I was born, aka, my Number 1 Christmas Tradition – and I realized this boy who is otherwise perfectly great does not come with his own matching stocking, and there was only one way to get him one. So I taught myself how to knit with a bunch of videos from knittinghelp.com, and spent a lot of time cursing and wondering how in the heck anyone ever did this for fun, but within a few months I had a knit myself a tank top out of the worst yarn you could think of for such a project. And he got his stocking, and then eventually so did my kids.

Kinsey: One of my old roommates used to knit. After she moved out I thought “why didn’t I ask her to teach me?” It looked fun and I’m a creative person who really enjoys handmade items. So started watching YouTube videos to learn on my own. I still do that, and if I still don’t get it, I just ask the other ESK kitties!

  • cooking a big batch & freezing this hot and sour soup
  • feeling some single color brioche coming on, maybe this?
  • sitting on the porch in the evenings & loving later sunsets
  • have you seen Stitch Maps?

I’d love to hear your stories, how you learned to create with yarn, who taught you, what made you want to start. Are you teaching anyone? Share in the comments!


6 thoughts on “Wander: Where It All Began

  1. Love reading your Wander blog! Enjoyed finding out how all the Kitties became knitters. I started knitting when I was in 3rd grade. I was actually sick at home for half of that school year. During the last month of convalescence, my Mother bought some yarn, knitting needles and a knitting pamphlet so I could be occupied while staying in bed. Using the instructions and diagrams in the pamphlet, I taught myself to knit. (My Mother was not a knitter.) Later, my Grandmother also helped me with my knitting. I don’t really remember my first real project, but I think I made some really skinny scarves and doll blankets. Knitting makes me happy!!

  2. My sister, my mom and I spent every summer at the lake and my dad would come up to visit on the weekends. One summer when I was probably about 8, my mom got a job cleaning cottages on Saturday morning and my best friend’s grandmother who lived up the road watched us. My best friend’s grandmother busted out her knitting needles one Saturday morning and some yarn and taught us to knit while our moms cleaned cottages together. My first project was a neon green and peach doll blanket. I knit off and on through middle school and high school, but really got back into it in college. It’s funny, because my mom is such a wonderful crafter and knits beautifully but she isn’t the one who taught me. 🙂

  3. I’m the youngest grandchild by a long shot, so by the time I came around Nana was mostly just knitting the ever-popular square dish cloths. Out of all of us, though, I was the only one who asked her to teach me. I was 8 when I learned to cast on, knit, yo, k2tog, and bind off … but I didn’t learn to purl until much later, in college.

  4. Love this post! It’s fun to look back. I remember begging my mother to teach me when I was in my early teens. She made socks for my dad – argyle, cables, the most amazing things with tiny yarn on tiny needles. We had difficulties because of my left-handedness but she struggled through and eventually I was able to turn out simple items like slippers and scarves. It really wasn’t much fun, though, so my early knitting career died fast. I didn’t really pick up the needles again until my early 30’s when a friend asked if I wanted to take a night school knitting course with her. It came back fairly quickly – my class project was a colourwork yoke pullover in baby blue acrylic which I still have (and will keep forever) even though it’s scary and hasn’t fit in years. Knitting didn’t become an obsession, though, until a few years later when I quit smoking. I had to have something to keep my hands busy and knitting was perfect. I’ve never looked back, especially since I found “good” yarns, and now it’s a rare day when I don’t knit at least a little bit. Even after all these years I still think there’s lots for me to learn and I certainly have plenty of yarn to practice on!

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