Crowing Ram

Saturday, March 29, 2003
Why I Knit
Yeah, I thought I was going to manage to avoid discussion of that idiotic article altogether. Then I saw my blog mentioned in someone else's* post in reference to how exclusive the ahem... "journalist" was of the many male and other not-quite-stereotypical knitters.
<sigh> It's not going to happen.
I won't go into how dumb and/or uninformed the article is. Nor will I vent on my opinion of the soapbox that appears to be buckling under the weight of the myriad protestors. I'll go now to where I always go when I think about why I do this stuff in the first place: My Granny.
My Granny (always capital G, please—no matter the context, My Granny is always a proper noun in my lexicon) was God. My Granny was also the devil if you want to get really technical. She was loud, sometimes abrasive, and occasionally barbaric*, but as far as I or any of her other grandchildren are concerned, she hung the moon. She was amazingly kind to animals and cooked for and fed her dogs three square meals a day whether they needed it or not. She was also like that with a painfully precocious and infinitely bored six-year-old boy who was getting very, very tired of coloring books and tube-painting on fabric with the elderly homebound woman who lived next door to her. Yeah... we're talking KUNTREE, and we're talking 1975.
So she taught me to crochet. And I crocheted my little fingers to the bone. I pored through Hershnerr's catalogs and Workbaskets with hideous glee, and when at age seven I'd finally written my own pattern for a crocheted Smurf™, I thought it was about time for me to start knitting.
Now, I grew up in West Central Georgia. If you've ever driven from Atlanta to Montgomery, then you've driven through LaGrange, Georgia. If the first time you did it was in the last fifteen years, then you really still have no concept of what a pleasant little country town it was in the year of the American Bicentennial. But my parents had a house on the far side of town from I-85 toward Roanoke, Alabama, and frankly, it just wasn't that cool for a little man to be knitting. So I didn't. Much. Not for a long while. I'd crochet afghan-type stuff. Occasionally. When my dad wasn't around to sneer at it and me for doing it. But I never... never finished anything. There was no purpose in it. It wasn't something that I could be proud of.
Then when I was in high school, My Moma** decided she wanted to learn to knit. My elementary school Spanish teacher was teaching a knitting class at the local vo-tech, and I begged Moma to enroll. She wasn't sure if she'd like it. She didn't know if she had time. I had always loved crocheting with Granny, and I desparately wanted to be able to share this with my mother. Finally, I told her that I'd take the class with her, and for her own mysterious reason, she agreed.
Moma never did really get into knitting. I think she got about half a back knitted before the project eventually got swallowed up into my own bin-o-projects. But for me, that was the turning point. I loved it. And as a teenagers will, I was starting to roam around a bit, and sure enough, I found a real yarn shop one day on some random meandering drive through Columbus, Georgia looking for trouble. I went in and saw all sorts of yarn I'd never seen before. Who knew they made yarn out of natural fibers? And there were people talking about knitting... and laughing and... wow! They were proud of what they were doing. And they had good reason. Everything was beautiful. There was color and texture and... and.. and I might have made it out and never looked back but for one small, simple thing. In a package of 8.5" x 11" x about &14frac;, I found Pingouin.
For those of you who don't remember and haven't found Pingouin, they were a French yarn and pattern company that may still be around somewhere, but my understanding is that they stopped selling their wares stateside in the early 1990s. While they did have lots of very 80s patterns, they also had some incredibly timeless classics. At the time that I was buying Pingouin patterns, I focused almost exclusively on men's and children's patterns, but about a year ago, Rob and I went on a brief e-Bay Pingouin spending spree, so I'll have to go back—now that I think of it—and see what kind of women's patterns were among our spoils.
Anyway, I found Pingouin and other nice patterns, several years later met Rob who taught me that being a man who knits isn't the most bizarre existence on the planet (Señor Jackson does walk among us), then moved out of Georgia to Michigan where I found wool.
Yes, wool does exist in Georgia. What also exists in Georgia is the mentality that it is always too warm and humid for wool, that wool is always itchy, etc. ad nauseam. And frankly, the wool yarn that I found in Georgia in the late 80s and early 90s supported my belief. I won't say that every yarn shop owner in the state was buying bad wool, but I didn't find the good stuff until I moved to Michigan.***
That was an awfully long way to go, but I enjoyed getting it off my chest... even if it did take two days to blog. So yes, Robin, I do have a non-conformist non-female perspective from which I can speak. Does it matter to journalists? Not in my experience. Nor does it seem sometimes to matter to other yarn shop owners who have woefully often asked me up my entry to their shops if I'm looking for something for my mother... or wife... or girlfriend. Or am I interested in learning to knit? Well, yes actually, I'm always interested in learning more about knitting, but if I answer yes and she starts teaching me how to cast on, I'm apt to tell her I prefer Addi Turbos in a size US8 of more than 16&qout; (because my hands—like the rest of me—are relatively large) for worsted yarn and that I prefer to knit continental unless I'm working on Fair Isles in which case I tend to use Anne Bourgeois' two-handed weaving method. Yeah, I can be a little bitter about that. Otherwise, I'm cool with me, with knitting, with my craft, with my art (yes, they are two separate things and I'm proud to have come so far in both), and I don't need the powers-that-would-like-to-be telling me that it's ok.
<breathe in><breathe out>
So... I completely forgot what I was originally planning on talking about today, but I promise that I will blog it in the next few days. Marrije asked about techniques for doing the kind of repair job that I did on C's sweater. I'm no expert, but I'll give it a shot. See you soon, folks.
* robin knits ~ little swatches of my life in knitting (
** I always think of Papa (husband to Granny, of course) and My Moma (daughter of My Granny and goddess in her own right) having to hold Granny back when she found out that someone had poisoned one of my dogs. I believe her exact words were, "That sawed-off son of a *beep*! I'll tear his head off and *beep* down his neck!" I think you get the picture.
*** On my last trip to Atlanta, I found three very nice yarn shops (one of which I even visited in my youth), and they all had very nice selections of yarn. I also attended at meeting of The Atlanta Knitters Guild. Good gracious, those folks do know how to do it right. If you're ever in the area, look them up.
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