The daily prompts in the Yarn Love Challenge have taken me back through my knitting history- from those days when I knew no crafters but said I wanted to learn to knit so my husband gave me a booklet from Joann called How to Crochet for Christmas all the way to today, where I have appropriated my daughter’s old room as my personal yarn abyss. I can easily chat with a knitter from any country at any point of the day or night. It’s really all due to one thing:
Day 5: Community.
I hope you’re not tired of hearing that phrase. You know the one: “knitting community” because what else could I call it. Guys, I live in Texas. Almost no one knits and even fewer seem to wear sweaters. I’m obviously holding out for that dream relocation to the mountains because I just keep making stitches like a freak.
As a young mother who had relocated a couple of times, I didn’t have a lot of friends. So I certainly didn’t have a knitting community. That wasn’t even a term, I don’t think, until Ravelry and Craftster. I think I first heard of Ravelry on Stefanie Japel’s old blog, Glampyre. She was going to try it, so I decided to see what the deal was.
I didn’t use most of the functions for a year. I remember the first time I made a Ravelry friend (Hi, Jennifer!) I didn’t even know you could do that. Then there were all of the late nights, just scrolling through version after version of different patterns, my brain filling to capacity with plans. I looked for obscure non-knitting themed groups like Martial Arts Knitters and Arrested Development knits. Then there was radar.
All of the brain and queue expansion has made the needle and pattern libraries indispensable. Seriously, I am thankful for them every time I know where to look in my home for the right yarn for a project. They have kept my house from looking like a messy crime scene.
Knit-alongs were inevitable. My first was with the Holla Knits group. It brought me a step closer to my knitting friends because we were all working on things at the same time, sharing tips, and chatting frequently. All of these KALs have given me good conversation and new perspectives from people, across the world, that I wouldn’t have had a chance to know before. There’s no doubt that my Ravelry friendships have enriched my life, but they’ve also shaped the skills I have today.
If I hadn’t ever met other knitters online, I’d probably only be finishing a couple of projects a year. As it is, I’m cranking out 30+ things I can’t wear in Texas. Some of them are knit within a single movie, like these Dreiecke hats.
Like Day 4: Speed
They were among my speediest knits. The green one is Andes Del Campo, a rustic feeling wool. I knit it for my daughter’s best friend, Becca, while watching a movie. I was so delighted when Becca saw my post for the photo challenge on instagram and posted her own photo of Dreiecke being worn. And it’s beautiful!!
The brown one is my hat of choice for running on our few cold winter mornings. It’s knit in natural Alpaca from Red Comb Vintage. They have two alpacas name Indy and Hayden that produce a bit of fiber each year and I happened to get some via Etsy. I loved that the tag had a photo of the alpaca the yarn came from. I would never have known about this yarn without the influence of online knitters. I would still be using whatever yarn my nearest Joann store has in stock, which would only be a couple of brands. Now, I’m not knocking cheap yarn. I still get lots of wear out of Patons sweaters. I even knit a sweater out of the pink Lion Brand Landscapes, below. But finding a variety of colors there is difficult and a sweater’s quantity is rare.
Day 10: Oldest stash
And sweaters were quickly my knit of choice. Here’s my first wearable one- the Big Sack sweater from Debbie Stoller’s first Stitch n Bitch book. (I think I knit a bolero first, but one of the arms was bigger than the other, so I never even wove in the ends.) I still love this mohair blend from Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride. I got it at Hill Country Weavers in Austin. I’m sure you’ve read about them online. But, back then, I only happened to find out about them from the index in the back of Debbie’s book. It was the only yarn store listed in Texas and, I think, the first one I ever went to.
Day 23: Throwback
A few years later I was ready for a more ambitious cabled project: Norah Gaughan’s Beatnik, a Knitty classic that was big on Ravelry. I loved it so much I knit another one, seamless to the arms, in Patons Classic Tweed. I had an arsenal of blog posts chronicling a past Beatnik KAL to guide me through the process. At this point my Blogroll was about a million strong.
Day 28: Favorite Knit
Instagram may be replacing knitting blogs now, but I mostly use it to kick through to blog. I seem to learn about new sites and yarn sellers there daily. I’ve have to curb my desire to support small business. See how I did that? My materialism is now noble and patriotic.
I really do like buying from individuals as often as I can. But I’m always going to love a bargain and this Lana Grossa Alta Moda Cashmere Fine is my newest one. It’s only a little cashmere, but I haven’t used a blend like this before and so I’m antsy to cast on.
Day 26: Newest stash
It’s a German yarn I ordered from England via LoveKnitting.com and I don’t think that would be happening without… you guessed it… the community. (I’m making it sound ominous, like The Path or The Crucible.)
I’ve also tried new color combos. Instagram has totally fueled my need to knit an Exploration Station this year or perish. Below are most of the striping things I’ve knitted since the beginning. I kind of love stripes, so learning brioche is a priority and, since Youtube tutorials and podcasts abound now, my learning process for this knitting technique should be a far cry from the “How to Crochet” pamphlet.
Day 7: Stripes
Knitting podcasters are solely responsible for subliminally coercing me into knitting 12 pairs of socks in one year. I would never have knit a sock otherwise and I’d probably be substituting long-tail cast on for every technique I hadn’t heard of.
Without my knitting people, I wouldn’t have tried knitted shorts or skirts, shawls, fingering weight knits, two-handed Fair Isle, or intarsia. And if I had, for some reason tried intarsia, I wouldn’t have known to steam press it for a polished finish.
Day 24: Favorite Tip
I probably would’ve branched out into crochet, but I’d never have thought to crochet a scrappy blanket. Oh, and this blankie made me so very happy to crochet. I had a little hand holding on instagram and Ravelry with the Christmas to Christmas Crochet-along. Thanks to this group, I also got a few magic knot and edging ideas for in the future.
My crafty friends have made me a better crafter in every way, except one:
Day 27: Blocking
The thing is, we aren’t just encouraging each other to try new yarns and patterns. We’re encouraging each other to just try something, for the sake of trying.
One of the biggest changes my online knitting friends have brought to my life is encouraging me to knit summer-weight tops. Holla Knits started it, and the Tops, Tanks, and Tees KAL keeps it going. It is the answer to my very large stack of pristine sweaters that I never get to wear. This Reef Knot Tank is what I was wearing on the 22nd of February. Nuts.
Day 22: Currently wearing
Most importantly, without the knitting community, I wouldn’t laugh or smile as much. I remember feeling kind of low one morning and then read one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me in an instagram comment. It lifted my spirits so much. That wouldn’t have happened without you guys! Thank you for making my life so rich. And here’s a random dog photo.
Day 25: Routine