Craft Addict

"Everybody got their somethin'...." ~ Nikka Costa

Monday, January 23, 2006

Knit one

My husband has been bogarting the computer for the past week since his had a major meltdown last weekend. I don't mind sharing, but it makes it hard to post to my blog when he's busy looking at kayaking stuff.

My first knitting class was last Thursday (1/19). I went straight from work, with one short detour through my favorite coffee stand, and ended up with a lot of time to kill. It surprised me how uncomfortable I felt loitering in the snack and study area with my magazine and coffee. Before moving here 3 years ago I worked at a university for about 4 years and never felt this out of place. Back then I dressed the part - whatever the "kids" were wearing I wore too, and I was often mistaken for a student which never failed to make my day. A couple girls wandered towards the vending machines I sat near, their strident voices echoing down the tile hallway. Couldn't they see the sign that said "Quiet - Study Area"? I thought this and then instantly laughed to myself for sounding so uptight. They hovered around the vending machines, making their choices and discussing something to do with one of their friends. Their voices were heady with youth and entitlement. I concentrated on my magazine feeling like an interloper, wondering if I looked as foreign to them as I felt. Of course this was a community college and they were probably used to seeing older people in their classes and down the hallways. I wondered if it was just the first class jitters (I always got these on the first day of school - was I in the right room, did I bring the right book, was it the right day and time?) making me feel this way or just that I'd started to feel I looked my age and was aware of the sharp contrast between the youth of the students I was encountering and what I viewed as my own sad, wrinkled visage?

I felt better when I got to class. I was definitely in the right room and it turned out I was one of about 4 of the youngest students there. At least, that's what I guessed from looking around at the 15 other faces in the room. We sat in three groups of 5 students and thankfully skipped that dreaded activity they seem to put you through in every single small class college course I've ever taken; you know the one where they make you introduce yourself and tell everyone something about why you are taking the class or where you're from or what makes you tick. They might as well shove hot needles into my eye. I might enjoy it more than I do that particular first day activity. But thankfully I was spared.

We got right into it after a brief introduction from the instructor. She showed us the long tail cast on first. I picked it up quickly because I'd taught myself this one from a magazine late one sleepless night. Looking at the other students struggling, I thought how hard it would be to learn this technique if it was the first time someone had demonstrated it for you and you had to see it from afar and then wait your turn while the instructor went to everyone else first to show them one on one. The loudest students definitely got the most help. I am, by nature, a silent struggler. So when the time comes that I need assistance, will my need be squashed and then drowned like a delicate grape in the stomping vat exposed to the force of more bold students? Or will I find it in me to fight my nature? I wonder this as I listen to them and practice my casting on.

We move on to the knit stitch once everyone has 20 stitches cast on. I pick this one up quickly too since I have knit about half of a scarf in garter stitch already. We are learning the left-handed Continental Method, or "picking", because our instrutor knits this way herself and feels we are less likely to encounter this method in the big world of knitting and wants us to be familiar with it. It feels awkward to me at first since my prior experience has been with "throwing", or the English Method, but I quickly see that this method will be much easier once I get over the foreign feeling of having the yarn in my left hand. As I practice in class I realize that it is already easier to knit this way though I still am not very smooth or speedy with the technique. I've been a crocheter for years and as I was practicing last night I realized that I crochet in very much the same manner, with the yarn to my left, and this must explain why picking feels so much more natural. I never felt comfortable with the throwing method. It always felt foreign and that I must be doing something horribly wrong to make it feel so awkward and practically painful.

We move onto purling for the very last bit of our 2 hour class session. I am struggling with this one and decide that I hate to purl. My hand just will not cooperate, and neither will the yarn or the needles. I feel reassured when the instructor tells us that even seasoned knitters do not relish purling. I guess it's just a means to an end. A necessary evil to gain the most beautiful of patterns. I keep practicing and by the end of our time I have about 2 inches of stockinette stitch attached to my needles. People are impressed and I feel practically bloated with self-pride, while trying to maintain an aura of modesty. I have been working on my own ahead of the class. This is the first time that I can remember that I have understood absolutely everything in a course and come away with the full amount of knowledge imparted by the instructor. Where were these powers of concentration and attentiveness in my 20's? How I wasted my youth!

Next week: Knit class 2, and continued purling....


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