I am participating in the Third Annual Knit & Crochet Blog Week (my second year). This week, each day will have a topic and those of us that are participating will write about said topic. The higher powers that be (i.e., the organizers) have thrown in a "Wildcard" topic, just in case there's a topic that just doesn't appeal to our tastes. So, without further adieu........
Are you a knitter or a crocheter, or are you a bit of both? If you are monogamous in your yarn-based crafting, is it because you do not enjoy the other craft or have you simply never given yourself the push to learn it? Is it because the items that you best enjoy crafting are more suited to the needles or the hook? Do you plan on ever trying to take up and fully learn the other craft? If you are equally comfortable knitting as you are crocheting, how do you balance both crafts? Do you always have projects of each on the go, or do you go through periods of favoring one over the other? How did you come to learn and love your craft(s)?
I'm primarily a knitter. I know the basics of crochet and that's about it. If I have either YouTube open or a stitch dictionary with loads of pictures, I might be able to crochet. Knitting I can just do without having to look at every single stitch. When it says "SSK" in a pattern, I know exactly what to do and how to do it. The same cannot be said for crochet. I know that "SC" is single chain and I know how to do that. I know that "DC" is double chain and if I look it up quickly, I'll know how to do it. The same can be said for most anything one would find in crochet. The point is that I would have to look everything up every single time I went to work on a pattern......
But, let's be honest here..........I can't crochet. I have the ability to learn it both mentally and physically but I like knitting. Why would I want to ruin my fiber love affair that I have with knitting by learning to crochet? It's bad enough that I've poisoned myself with spinning...but since that makes some of the yarn I knit with, I suppose it's okay. Besides, it just seems like there's so much more you can actually do with knitting than with crochet. Perhaps I'm incorrect in that assumption but with all the lace and cables and all of that...I know you can do cables and lace in crochet but I like the knitted ones better. Then again, knitted doilies just doesn't sound right.....doilies are crocheted.........then again, I don't have any desire to have any more doilies in my house. Ever.
I don't think I want to rule out ever learning how to crochet. I know it can be useful in knitting for things like putting pieces of a patchwork blanket together (or otherwise binding items) or creating borders....but it's just not something I need to learn right now.
And then there's spinning.
I always swore I would never learn to spin because then I'd have another craft in the house and it would (1) drive Husband nuts and (2) take up that much more space for those supplies.
I now have three drop spindles, none of which I use because I'm too short, and my Majacraft Pioneer wheel. And fiber. Lots and lots of fiber. And a Lazy Kate. And extra bobbins. And hand carders. Let's not talk about that anymore.
I love spinning as much as I love knitting...I'm definitely better at knitting but I can get into that same sort of meditative state with spinning that I get with knitting. Sometimes. The biggest problem I have is that I can only knit while Little Man sleeps. He's very interested in my wheel when it's sitting stationary so I've had to remove it from the room so he doesn't mess with it. So, I don't get to use it that much. It's much more difficult to pull the wheel and fiber out to spin than it is to grab my knitting bag.
But, back to the topic at hand.........how did I learn to have a love affair with fiber? It's an interesting question for me to think about. I come from a long line of crafters and artsy-fartsy types, apparently. One of my paternal great-grandmothers could not only play the piano by ear (a talent I also have, to a much lesser degree), she was also a stitcher. Cross stitcher, in this case. I have a sampler she made and up until a few days ago, it was hanging in Little Man's room (he realized he could grab at it while on the changing dresser so we had to remove it). It hung in my room while I was growing up, even when I plastered my walls with magazine cut-outs of my favorite cute actors and musicians...seriously, I plastered the magazine pictures around it. It always hung there. I have no idea when she made it though I suspect that it was made specifically for me. Her daughter, my paternal grandmother, was more of a musician than a crafter but that's okay. She, too, could play piano by ear. She also learned to play the accordion (which I'm currently in possession of and have no idea how to play - she passed in 2000). Her first husband, my paternal grandfather, was a painter. He always said he was going to move to Jamaica and paint snow. He never did get there as he passed away in 2002. I have several of his paintings, some of which are framed including a special one (to me) that he painted of his grandparents' home from memory. His second wife, my paternal step-grandmother (i.e., my dad's step-mom) was a knitter. She was a fabulous knitter. She used to make me mittens and scarves and hats when I was growing up. She'd ask my mom to trace my hands or measure my head round about late July and then at Christmas I'd have a handknit something for Wisconsin winters. As she got older, she started machine knitting and would churn out sweaters in her favorite color (purple) and blankets for the family. I never did get one, though. She turned 80 recently and has long since stopped knitting (honestly, I think she quit after my grandfather passed). She finds it quite amusing that I've started knitting. On my mother's side...well, both of my maternal great-grandmothers were crafters to an extent. My great-grandma Johnston (my grandmother's mother) was a knitter, crocheter, sewer, baker, and quilter...and maybe more than that. I have several of her quilts in my possession. I also have her copy of the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook (you know, the red & white checkerboard one)...and several of her handwritten recipes. My great-grandma Green (my grandfather's mother) was a knitter, crocheter, and baker. I think it was out of necessity more than anything. They were a poor farming family during the depression. I have several of her knitting and crochet patterns that she gave to my grandma after she and my grandpa got married in 1946. I also have several of her handwritten recipes. My maternal grandmother was a rosemaller (Norwegian rose painting), knitter, crocheter, stitcher, baker, and sewer...though according to her youngest brother, my great-uncle Eugene, she didn't pick any of that up until after she was married. I have several of her knitting pattern books from the 1960s as well as the ones that my great-grandma had given her. I suspect that she was more of a crocheter than anything (as far as fiber goes), as evidenced by her teeny tiny, well-used crochet hooks, the really thin crochet thread, and the eight gazillion doilies I found while going through the house. In my lifetime, she had only sewed and rosemalled that I knew of. I found out about the knitting and crocheting once I started cleaning out their house. My father was futzy with tools and could build just about anything. He built me a jewelry box for either Christmas or my 18th birthday. I don't remember which. It might have been my high school graduation. My mother was, in her youth, a sewer and crocheter. I think she knew how to knit, as well, but I never found any evidence of it. I did find evidence of crochet, though.
And now we get to me. I paint. I knit. I can bake. I can cook (I'm not a bad cook but I'm not a good one, either). I tried my hand at ceramics and jewelry making. I wasn't very good at either of those. I've also tried being organized (again, not very good)......I know that's not a craft, per se........but it's definitely an art form.
My actual love affair with fiber began not long after my mother passed away in 2001. I think I needed something to fill the void. My love of Harry Potter took care of part of it. I think what started it, though, was finding my mom's crochet project with the hook still with it and all the yarn...I felt like I should try to finish it. So, I went to Walmart and picked up one of those "Learn to Crochet" books and a couple of hooks (a really huge one and a regular I or J hook) and I tried and I tried and I just could not crochet. Even using the biggest hook, my stitches came out teeny tiny. So, I threw everything into a bag and decided that crochet wasn't for me. I went back to cross stitch and I got pretty far on a project. I might even finish it someday. I found it not too long ago...and I do remember how to do it. But, anyway........had some crochet supplies sitting in a bag and it wasn't working out. I had a friend, at the time, who decided she was going to take up knitting and said we should go on this adventure together. So, I went back to trusty Walmart and picked up a "Learn to Knit" book, some needles (US #11, I believe) and a skein of something similar to Lion Brand Homespun but that's not what it was. I started out with a garter stitch scarf, 10 stitches across...I had to ask said friend's mom how to do the bind off because the book didn't make any sense. It wasn't difficult, I didn't drop any stitches, I didn't add any stitches, and I actually do still wear that scarf. It's quite lovely for a first project. I then decided that I was going to make a baby blanket. I picked up eight or ten skeins of Lion Brand Homespun in a dark royal blue and my grand idea was that I was going to make it in strips like a scarf and then sew them together. I have no idea why I thought this would work. But, I started out knitting and I hated the yarn....so I put everything in a bag and forgot about it.
Fast forward to around 2008 or so...my old college roommate had just quit her job and decided she was going to learn to knit. So, she came up one weekend with her knitting and we went to Michael's to pick up supplies. I tried to pick that blanket back up, I really did.....and I hated it and I wound up trying her way. I borrowed her book, picked up the yarn and needles I'd need, and I started making a hat, knit flat. It turned out a bit too large but it serves it's purpose.
I was hooked after that.
And now, I have more bins and boxes of yarn than I'll go through in a lifetime...and needles...and hooks...and project bags...and notions...and spinning fiber...and hand carders...and my wheel...and drop spindles...and books and binders full of patterns.
People say I'm obsessed.
I say that I'm dedicated........those people don't know what they're talking about.