I don’t quite know how to kick this off, so why don’t I start from the beginning-ish? Picture it: London, 20041. After a couple of false starts caused mainly by my short attention span and an innate ability for underestimation (what? A funky scarf long enough to wrap around the Earth a couple of times? Surely this one single ball of yarn acquired on a whim from John Lewis during my lunch break will suffice! True story.), I became a bit of a knitting fiend almost… (oh, my God, I can’t believe I’m about to type this…) 20 years ago2. I’ll let that sit there for a minute, whilst I pick myself off the floor.
But, yes, I got into it just before it became hip & trendy, and it was cool to do it in public. In fact, it then became so cool so quickly, that it took me a long time to catch up with the fact that it was now a fashionable activity in which to engage, and I could finally come out of the knitting closet. Yes, I played with sticks and string, and I liked it!
And so it followed that over the years I made a lot of stuff. And I mean A LOT. Not all was good, in fact, in hindsight most was mediocre at best, in the beginning at least. But cut a crafter some slack, I was completely self-taught (thanks to Montse Stanley and Elizabeth Zimmermann, and later YouTube). Fist bump! Knitting (and fibre-y crafting in general) soon felt like the final missing piece, fitting perfectly into my life.
For a good few years, I assiduously knitted all sorts. I started off with the obligatory never-completed scarf, moved onto hats, lotsa hats!, but quickly graduated to garments. One of my most successful knits was Glampyre’s top-down raglan jumper worked in the round, which I knitted in a beautifully soft Jaeger Shetland Aran yarn and wore for years. I’m not sure what happened to it in the end. I don’t have it anymore, so I imagine it eventually got promoted it to the rubbish bin. I do remember that it had almost felted by the end, so frequently was it worn. I made maaany more sweaters, and to this day, the circular top-down construction remains my favourite.
I would make pieces for friends and family like there was no tomorrow. They were, for the most part, received graciously, even though I don’t recall ever seeing an item actually worn by the recipient! But I enjoyed the process and did it with love, so that was all that mattered!
Soon it was the days of the Stitch ‘n’ Bitch movement, Sarah Jessica Parker was seen doing it, knitting groups were sprouting all over the place. I got involved in a few and got to know so many wonderful people and made many fantastic friends and it was all pretty amazing. I made and sold stitchmarkers. Ravelry launched and it was revolutionary. And I kept on stitching and bitching and knitting and loving it!
And then, as is often the case, life happened and I gradually fell off the face of the crafty world. I haven’t made anything more substantial than a hat or a cowl for years now. In fact, there were years of late when I didn’t even pick up a needle. And then I would have this irrepressible itch to create something and would start a quick and easy knit (have I mentioned hats???) just to see stitches form and fabric quickly materialise under my fingers.
I guess this is one of those times. Particularly after these difficult months, what with the constant, unrelenting anxiety, I once again feel the need to do something creative with my hands and, in the process, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to complete one of my oh-so-many WIPs – ever the optimist, I’m not calling them UFOs yet. So, here I am. And true to form, I have cast on something new. It’s a fingering weight shawl. Mindless and perfect for where my head is right now. Will post photos when the light is right, as it’s in a gorgeous, but impossible to photograph, rusty colourway. So, here’s to new beginnings!
1 A little homage to the hilarious Sophia Petrillo. No, I’m not showing my age! You’re showing your age!
2 It’s actually 18 years ago, but let’s face it, 20 sounds much more dramatic!