“I Can’t Believe I’m KNITTING!”

So, knitting class last night. After work, six to eight. It’s held at a very nice yarn shop pretty near where I work, and it wasn’t too hard to bus to the park and ride and then drive almost all the way back in the opposite direction in order to make it to class on time. In fact I got there a little early and was able to wander around the shop a little and pet all the different types of yarn. I made Carl stop at the yarn store on the way back from the airport on Sunday so I could pick up my book (the aforementioned “I Can’t Believe I’m KNITTING!” Yeah, okay, I can’t believe it either but that’s no reason to yell in caps, is it) and everything. It’s just what a knitting store should be like, in my rather uninformed opinion: sort of crowded and a little dusty, with some extremely cutesy sweaters and socks and hats hanging around. There’s this funny thing for winding yarn from skein into ball which is pretty fun to use. This shop knits up a little swatch of every type of yarn so you can see what it will look like, which I found helpful. I don’t know what kind of yarn I like yet; for the class I have two skeins of like, Beginning Baby Wussy Yarn for Knitting Dorks, in a nice light blue and a nice garnet red. I worked on the red last night but I think I’ll end up using the blue to practice on and then make my first hat and scarf out of the red. I get a new red hat and scarf every winter, it feels like, and always manage to lose them on the bus or camping or something. We’ll see how my luck holds out this year.

I had taken a quick lesson a couple of months ago and had done a lot of knit stitch since then, so I felt, for the first hour of the class, like the smart kid in the class because as soon as our teacher (named Lauren, wearing hand-knit sweater and socks) showed us how to cast on, which I had completely forgot how to do, I was all busting loose with the knit stitch. Wooo! Knit knit knit knit! Yeah! It was extra nice to have someone there who could fix mistakes I made and pick up dropped stitches (we’re learning how to fix mistakes next week I think) and who was very encouraging. Knit knit knit knit knit! Ha ha! Forget all those hours on the bus and on planes where I sat crying into my wool because I didn’t know how to fix anything besides by unraveling it all. The Sweater Song took on a whole new meaning in my life, and I imagine it will continue to do so until I learn how to bind off and don’t have to babysit my needles in quite the same manner, living in fear of their somehow getting loose from the yarn and like, twirling away by themselves somewhere, leaving sad little leavings of my nice (okay, sort of nice) swatch all over the living room floor.

Knit knit knit knit. Then came purl. Uh oh. Purling isn’t actually all that difficult…I say as if I’m casually tossing out cable-knit sweaters every week…because it’s just the reverse of the knit stitch. Tell that to my hands though. Tell that to my needles and my very bad dorky baby wussy yarn. I couldn’t do it for a really long time, and then the first stitch I did manage to make, after squinting and holding my breath, took about fifteen minutes and intense concentration. I began to speak to the yarn: “Come on, just do it, “ I whispered, as if the yarn was a squeamish child and I was trying to convince it that the Haunted House isn’t really that scary. I began to threaten the yarn: “You. Will. OBEY. Me!” And finally, swirls of yarn collecting at my feet and the tears beginning to flow (just a little!) I began to beg the yarn. I’m not quoting myself because it’s too embarrassing. You don’t want to know what I promised this yarn I would do if it just went through the loop with the needles stuck in there front to back instead of back to front like in knit stitch.

I’m excited about this in a low key sort of way. Knitting isn’t, to my mind, really that thrilling (witness this entry). It’s interesting because it involves concentration and attention and craftiness and creativity…at least I assume it does, once you get past the knit one purl one stage. I like to see one long thin piece of wool become all complicated, and I like thinking about how knitting was invented. Like, who was sitting around one day and was all, “Hey! I bet if I take two sticks and hold them as if I am driving a car and then loop this string around a couple of times, I’ll have a nice fisherman’s sweater! Score!” I like to think about how lucky I am that I don’t have to shear the sheep and then clean the wool and spin it and dye it and all that, that I can just go to the nice yarn shop and sit around with some nice women two hours a week and learn to make something new. Actually, I did think a little about whether I would rather have a life in which was mainly shearing sheep or mainly staring at computer screens all day. Jury’s out so far.

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