Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I've always been a person who loves to work with my hands. If I'd been born male someone would probably have put a set of tools in my hands fairly early on and I would be doing custom carpentry or some other type of woodcraft as an adult, but since I'm female my grandmother introduced me to knitting needles. I learned to knit before I was in high school. And I always worked at other "crafty" things so poster board and markers were a staple in my room - I loved creating things from banners for school events to collages for my bedroom walls (made up of photos of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Twiggy among others.)
As the years went by and I had babies, I began to delve into other crafty things. I crocheted baby blankets for my friends, smocked little dresses for my nieces, made crewel and needlepoint wall hangings for Christmas gifts, and even made many of my kids clothes. It's good to be crafty when you're on a tight budget and I had my Singer sewing machine handy! I spent many, many hours - instead of dollars - on the gifts I gave in those days. Anytime my children were sleeping, I was sewing, knitting, needlepointing, and gluing.
I still have a closet full of craft supplies. Some are for things I dabbled in for a short time, like stamping and stenciling. Others are for my grand kids to use when they're visiting because I love to color and paint with them. But the most enduring thing for me is the knitting. I love it because it's portable and easy to take with me, and it's also second-nature to me now. I can do it while the TV is on at night and rarely drop a stitch. It's more than a little satisfying to see one of my grandchildren appear in a sweater I made just for them.
I'm bemoaning the lack of a yarn shop in East Hampton. There's something so intoxicating about walking into a good yarn shop and looking at that wall of color, texture, and unlimited possibility. From the palest pinks to the darkest mauves, I love them all. And to be able to touch those skeins, to feel the heft and see the saturated color - well it's heavenly. I've started many projects just on the strength of the visual appeal, and more than once I've been seduced into buying yarn that I never actually used.
I've been to the shop in Montauk, and it's lovely, but I just don't have the time or energy for the trip all that often so I find myself using the internet more and more for ordering supplies. It's just not the same. No touching, no rainbow wall of color - I wish I could open my own shop just for the joy of being surrounded with the yarn.
Another pleasure that I find in knitting comes from the camaraderie. We have knitting groups at my church that make shawls for people in the community who need a little lift in their lives for various reasons. It's a wonderful communal activity: a little mentoring, a little sharing, and lots of just being with friends and getting to know one another better.
I guess that's why I like knitting more than some of the other crafts I've mastered. It can be done in a group which amplifies the pleasure. But all in all, I love every type craft I've ever tried, with the exception of counted cross stitch. Even when I was young those tiny woven pieces of cloth made me cross-eyed. Now, at my age, I wouldn't even try...