Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A bit of knitting

Knitting is something I learned to do in my early twenties. I walked into a yarn shop one day, bought a book, a pair of size 8 knitting needles and three skeins of sky blue worsted wool. I remember picking a cabled scarf to knit as my first project. It took me about three days to finish. I have knit many mittens, socks and sweaters over the years, but I have never knitted another scarf. I don't know what happened to that scarf, as we have moved many times. I imagine that it is wrapped around the neck of someone keeping them warm.

It wasn't long before I discovered Shetland weight wool and Fair Isle knitting. I knit this sweater when I lived in California for a short time. Believe it or not, there were times that it was chilly enough for a wool sweater, especially when we went to the beach for a walk in December.

This is a fair isle sweater I knit when we moved to Colorado. Before we had children, we spent our weekends hiking and skiing in the Rocky Mountains. I always had my knitting with me. Somewhere I have a picture of me on a 12,000 foot mountain with my wool attached to my backpack and a sock that I am knitting in my hands. There was one hike that started on a trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. A park ranger saw me knitting and asked how I could hike and knit at the same time. I told her that by the time we returned from our hike I would have a finished sock. I knew she didn't believe me, but it takes about twelve miles of hiking for me to finish one sock. She was there when I finished the hike and the sock. She said she had seen a lot of things while being a ranger, but never a knitting hiker.

One of my favorite gifts to give new babies is this little wool baby sweater. The pattern can easily be completed in a day or two of "serious" knitting. I first found the pattern in a book by Elizabeth Zimmerman. It was later published in an issue of Vogue Knitting. I miss not having a baby in the house to snuggle with in these little woolly sweaters. Knit in blues or greens this is an adorable sweater on boys, as well as girls.

When I need to stay really warm these are the wool socks that I reach for. I have a second pair started in blue and cream, but had stopped knitting them when I couldn't find the book. I had given the book up for lost with the first sock only partially finished. I had even thought about ripping the knitting out and using the wool for mittens. I just couldn't unravel all of that colored knitting. Thank goodness I didn't, because just this week as I was doing some holiday cleaning I found the book mixed in with my quilting books. Oh, JOY! now I can finish them!
This is the knitting I work on when I am on the phone with my mother. I can't stand not keeping my hands busy, so I always have a washcloth on the needles. My sister told me that she cleans her bathrooms when people call. I'm afraid that someone would hear the toilet flush! Knitting can be done without anyone knowing! This is the only time I knit with cotton. We no longer use paper towels in the house now that I have a drawer full of these to knitted washcloths to grab from. They certainly brighten up the chore of washing dishes or cleaning off dirty hands and faces.

I no longer think of knitting as one of my crafts. It's a bit more like baking, cleaning, or gardening. It gets done when needed. I have 4 small hands that need mittened each winter. My goal is to have 2 pairs for both children. One pair to play in and one pair to hang to dry. Usually Piglet can wear Pooh's' mittens from the year before, as long as they haven't gone missing. Each year I knit the mittens in only two colors. Last year it was read and cream. This year it is light and dark grey. I have used the same pattern for a couple of years now. All I have to do is add more rows of stripes as the children's hands have grown longer. I have two pairs to finish yet this year. Luckily we have only had one real snowfall. I don't like finishing the thumbs. Knitting with such few stitches can be difficult, especially when I keep the stripes going on the thumbs. There is nothing like wool mittens and the toasty hands that come out of them when the children come in after playing in the snow.

Merry Christmas!

The Work of Christmas When the song of the angel is stilled, When the star in the sky is gone, When the kings and the princes are home, When the shepherds are back with their flock, The work of Christmas begins: To find the lost, To heal the broken, To feed the hungry, To release the prisoner, To rebuild the nations, To bring peace among others, To make music in the heart. From "The Work of Christmas," by Howard Thurman. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas! Christine