I don’t knit things for myself very often. I jokingly think of knitting for myself as ‘selfish knitting’. This stems from the fact that, for some reason, whenever I get the commonly asked question: “who are you knitting that for?” I feel a pang of selfish guilt as I sheepishly reply “myself…” I’ve never known why this is: I’m perfectly entitled to knit for myself, but it’s just a feeling I get.
I always want to knit things for myself (I have a Ravelry queue that probably extends beyond my lifetime), but instead I seem to fall into a familiar pattern of knitting gifts for friends and family each year; starting slowly at first, then knitting steadily through the summer months before building up to a pre-Christmas knitting frenzy each year.
I like it this way, so I’m not complaining. I like gifting my knits to people: knowing that I’ve given something unique and handmade, that I’ve spent hours working on; carefully devoting my time to each stitch with someone specific in mind. To me, there’s no gift more personal or thoughtful than that. Whenever I can’t think of that perfect present, I can always think of something to knit.
However, after several years of predominantly gift-knitting, culminating in a whole year dedicated to knitting for my wedding last year; I decided that this year – 2016 – would be my year. I vowed to spend the year knitting things for myself.
*Just a warning that this is a (woolly) mammoth post with lots of words and even more pictures. Seriously, make yourself a cup of tea before you start…*
Living so far out of the way, I had never been to a knitting or wool festival before so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. When I first suggested to my husband that we fit a Woolfest detour into our holiday, it was all excitement: a full day of wool, sheep and knitting – what’s not to love? Although he isn’t a knitter, Alex does take an interest and is generally very tolerant of my need to visit wool shops / mills / sheep everywhere we go; and I knew there would be more than just yarn: there would be live demonstrations, plenty of sheep and – a soft spot for him and therefore the clincher – alpacas. So, I wasn’t really worried about dragging him along to a wool festival for the day either.
The year I learned to knit mittens, I got a bit carried away and decided to knit mittens for everyone. As the months passed, mittens were produced from many corners of my life: lazy and leisurely rows knitted from the comfort of home; stolen stitches in spare moments during a wonderful week on Orkney; three weeks of knitting my way round India, needles clacking quietly in time with the sound of trains on tracks as we meandered round the country via the vast Indian Railway network; and last minute rows knitted in a cosy London pub on the bank of the Thames in the days leading up to Christmas.
By the time Christmas arrived, I had seven pairs of mittens (plus two hats, and a Chihuahua jumper), each with their own story and eagerly waiting to warm the cold hands of friends and family members in the midst of the Scottish winter.
Despite being what my husband would call obsessively tidy in my day to day life, I have somehow evolved as a ‘messy knitter’ and it’s only relatively recently that I’ve started to tidy up my knitting habits.
With a dissertation proposal due yesterday and only two weeks until exams, my knitting exile continued last week as I was forced to dedicate all free time to studying. I spent my days floundering helplessly in a sea of paperwork and despairing at the lack of woolly things in my life; willing the weekend to arrive when I would at least be allowed a break to venture out to Yarn Shop Day.
Luckily, my week would not be completely devoid of all things woolly: it just wasn’t going to come in the conventional form. Instead of spending hours working on a knitting project stitch by stitch, I economised and spent only an hour and a half on Thursday evening getting this amazing tattoo done. It may have taken only a fraction of the time that it might have taken to knit a pair of socks or mittens, but the end result is just as beautiful albeit in a completely different way.
Satuday was Yarn Shop Day: a day dedicated to celebrating everything that’s great about your local bricks-and-mortar yarn shop. Now in it’s third year, the day is promoted by Let’s Knit magazine as a campaign to support independent knitting shops across the UK.
Meet Doug the Caterpillar. He’s my draught excluder friend, and is one of very few finished projects that I’ve actually kept for myself. I knitted him a few years ago and he still has pride of place in our hallway; perched right at the entrance to the house, waiting to snuggle up next to our front door and keep the place cosy.
Whenever I travel, I always manage to stumble across two things: cats and wool. Wherever I may be, it’s like an instinct; down a side street, nestled in a small corner of a big city, or in the claustrophobic depths of an ancient street market – I sniff them out.
This weekend was no exception. I was in Amsterdam; a fleeting two night stay for a Hen weekend of drinking interspersed with sight seeing, one of a group of eight hens. Needless to say, it was to be a weekend filled more with heavy drinking than heavy knitting so I had no expectations of discovering Amsterdam’s knitting community. As I dragged myself out of bed at 3am on Friday morning to head for the airport, woolly things were far from my mind.
The problem with a new blog is knowing where to start. I’ve been knitting for a good few years now, even if I’ve not been writing about it; so my head is a tangled mess of woolly thoughts and projects, past and present, all at the tips of my fingers as they hover over my keyboard, ready to spill out on to the page. It feels a bit like the ridiculously long queue of projects I’ve got lined up on Ravelry: every time I look I feel overwhelmed by all the woolly loveliness and I don’t know where to turn first. Maybe if I quit my day job and knit at full speed for the next 50 years, I’ll get to the bottom of it one day.
Anyway, when giving this some thought my mind kept wandering back to the same project: my wedding. This isn’t a surprise really – not only was it a significant milestone in my life, but the knitting that surrounded my wedding escalated to fairly epic proportions. It’s my biggest knitting project, having completely dominated my knitting world for most of 2015.