Knit 1, Purl 1

Moss Stitch

Moss Stitch

I taught myself to knit in 1981, after graduating from college and while living at home with my parents in Scarsdale until I saved enough money to move into a studio apartment in Brooklyn Heights.  It was that, or watch golf on TV, in the basement, with my parents, after work in the Finance Department of an insurance company on Wall Street.

Knitting Know-How - Pages 163 to 171

Knitting Know-How - Pages 163 to 171

Starting with page 164 of Knitting in Vogue, which gives step-by-step instructions on how to cast on using several methods (I started with the “thumb method” and have never learned another way) to page 171, which completes the various ways of making up the finished pieces, this book started me on my way to five years of knitting obsession.  Every trip to Italy (there was always a stop in either Milan or Rome) entailed a visit to Filatura di Crosa and the purchase of bags of luscious, sophisticated, sometimes designer, yarn.

My first sweater cost me over $240 in 1981 dollars!  My friend Ellen had the exact same experience with her first sweater:  of walking into a yarn store (in my case, in Scarsdale), picking up a beautiful, soft skein of yarn (in my case, a heather colored wool/angora mix), asking the sales woman how many skeins you needed to make a sweater, taking the yarn that you have completely fallen in love with to the cash register, being shocked beyond belief that the yarn cost $200, and paying more than you have ever paid for a sweater by a LOT (in my case, several multiples) because you are too embarrassed to return the yarn and pick something cheaper. Of course, the total bill was more than that because I also bought a pair of knitting needles.  Once I had finished the pieces of the sweater, I had to go back to the store because I didn’t understand how to “block” the pieces and didn’t trust myself to “make up” the sweater.  The sales woman took pity on me and told me she would block it for me (even though they don’t normally do that) and make it up for $40.  I meekly paid that exorbitant amount, again embarrassed to take it back and try and do it myself.

I soon became quite proficient, to the point that the proprietor of a boutique in the new South Street Seaport, asked me to knit custom sweaters for her. Apparently, she couldn’t find anyone who would knit argyle sweaters or vests.  I took the challenge, but quit 4 sweaters (3 argyle) later.  Knitting for someone else had taken all the creativity and pleasure out of knitting.  (My last sweater was an Irish fishermen’s sweater for a man who had a size 50 chest and one arm longer than the other.)

Baby Blanket in Moss (or Seed) Stitch

Baby Blanket in Moss (or Seed) Stitch

All my knitting paraphernalia and three boxes of sweaters, tank tops, vests, and cardigans are now in Vancouver. Inspired by my soon-to-be niece, I opened the big box of needles and yarn and found some fun cotton yarn that I had purchased for $1.98 a skein in 1985 from the New York Yarn Center.  I had 8 (of 16) skeins left, and figured that doubled, I could get a decent-sized baby blanket.

I had to teach myself to cast on all over again (it’s been over 20 years since I’ve picked up knitting needles!).  Luckily, one of the few boxes of books we have unpacked contained Knitting in Vogue. I decided to use a “moss” or “seed” stitch – the stitch I used for my very first ($240) sweater.

Baby Beanie in Garter Stitch

Baby Beanie in Garter Stitch

Seduced by the instant gratification of making itty-bitty things, I bought a (one!) skein of cotton yarn and got two beanies (the first one looked too big) out of it.  Unfortunately, I had to do a lot of math before making the first beanie because the gauge for the yarn I had chosen was different from the one in the pattern I had borrowed from the Vancouver Public Library.  I have no idea if these will fit any babies – how big are their heads anyway?


2 Responses to “Knit 1, Purl 1”

  1. 1 Bradley July 14, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    I love that you are knitting again – I use to crotchet and I found it meditative. Maybe I will try knitting, not that I need a sweater in this 110 heat….

  2. 2 pavi July 25, 2008 at 1:05 am

    you are Such a Brilliant artist yoomily!


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