My Grandma on my dad's side of the family has taken to calling me "independent." I'm not sure if she has always thought of me this way, or if it's a recent revelation for her as I am now an adult. We have always been very close, in fact we share a middle name. She says that I am a lot like her: when I want something I make it happen. No waiting for approval or worrying about the what-if's.
I bring this up because I have recently seen and read many blog posts and articles about people's coming to knitting stories. Usually folks respond with, "I learned from my grandma/mother/aunt when I was a kid...gave it up for a few years/continued to craft sporadically through my teens...took it back up as an adult." I have also heard more than a few folks state that most (if not all) makers came to learn their craft from their family.
Well, this is not my story. And I imagine that I am not alone.
I did not grow up knitting. No one taught me how. One Christmas when I was 15 I specifically requested a knitting kit and was very happy when I opened up one of those Lion Brand learn to knit kits with a book and some tools (like needles, a row counter, some stitch markers and holders) - nothing fancy but it's what I wanted and more importantly what I needed in order to learn how to knit. That funky pink garter stitch thing up there is one of my first completed objects made with that Lion Brand kit. It was hard to teach myself as there are no knitters in my family. My Sister and Aunt sew, my Grandma and Mom crochet (so does Andy). But I am the first and only knitter.
I get a little jealous when I hear these stories of generational knitters. All of their memories attached to the sweaters or hats that have been handed down to them, all of the passed down knowledge and skills on how to pick up dropped stitches and how to purl - information not acquired from youtube or how-to books. Information that probably accompanied warm hands and encouraging words. I wish this was my story, but it is not. My story begins with 12 inch aluminum needles and a series of diagrams. That garter stitch thing up there, yeah that was supposed to be stockinette. You see, I couldn't differentiate between a knit and purl stitch with just a diagram. It took me quite a bit of time before I figured that out. I wish I could have had my Grandma teach me and I envy those of you who did have that experience. But as I sit here and reflect, and with each project I complete, I cannot help but to think of myself as independent, not alone. Why envy others when I can celebrate my own drive and desire to learn something new and different? Sure, I don't have any fairisle sweaters or fancy techniques for binding off but I can say that I figured this whole knitting thing out on my own. I am making my own memories and acquiring skills that one day maybe I will get to pass down.
Here's to all you independent crafters out there like me, writing your own stories and being your own teachers. We have the privilege of creating our own histories. Cheers!