Monday, 14 February 2011

Between the Stitches: What Started you Knitting?

Northern Loops Dunnet is off and flying with their triangles. I have seen folks in the Coop and on the street talking about triangles and colours and shapes. It is great to be part of that conversation and I look forward to seeing what we come up with on March 3 when we get together again.

Meanwhile, Northern Loops Thurso starts up again this Thursday (Feb 17) in the United Reformed Church with a new project. No more squares! If the group agrees we'll do strips of different stitches that can then be combined for a blanket or shawl. I have been given materials from Project Eve for their campaign for March as Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and as a group we can figure out how to use our knitting to aid their campaign. I have a friend in the States right now who is struggling with ovarian cancer and I know others who have or have had this particular form of cancer strike their family or friends.

Cancer and knitting are linked in my mind because it was the cancer of a workmate that started me knitting. What started you knitting? I love hearing people's stories of how they began. I'd love to hear yours--send it to me or tell me and (if OK with you) I'll share it here on our Northern Loops blog.

As a starter, here's my story:

I had always wanted to learn to knit. A new store that taught knitting had opened up (Stitches and Scones) in my little town of Westfield and so the ingredients were all in place. The catalyst was provided by a workmate who was diagnosed with breast cancer.

As every beginner knows, your first project is usually ill advised. The soft wool (Chinchilla) was not easy to knit with, the pattern was a mystery, and the needles felt like chopsticks. With gentle guidance, the chemo cap became my second knit project. I bought some tame wool, a simple beanie pattern, and sat down to lessons in which I could make several mistakes and get put quickly back on track.

Having mastered sort of--a simple beanie--I made a chemo cap for my workmate with more help from the knitter-teachers around the big wooden table in the centre of the shop at Stitches n Scones. One woman had made several chemo caps. When I said how brave I thought she had been as a nurse of terminally ill patients, she confided that she felt a bit guilty when she heard that because she felt as if she had received more from her patients than she gave them.

I understood her story a bit better when I knit chemo caps for the Maggie's centre in Inverness and saw how much it meant to one woman.

So the stories I have learned (and continue to learn) along with the knitting help shape me as a person. How did you get started knitting? Share your story here.


  1. I dont remember not knitting and sewing, I know my aunt taught me to sew as my mum still talks of how calm my aunt had been when my mum just wanted me to stop making a mess... My Gran taught me to knit as she knitted all her days when visiting, she was blind and had been since the early 1950's so while she knew her own house well and cooked and cleaned at home, she didn't have anything to do at our house, so knitted dish cloths, and when she went to bed my mum picked up dropped stitches and mended mistakes. Oddly this means I knit quite well with out having to watch each move, but do need to look some of the time. :-D Each project reminds me of her, her voice softly telling victorian stories to keep me amused, her hands weaving back and forwards always making, the smell of old fashioned body powder, and the creek of her wicker chair she had to sit in at my house. My mother still has the last few dishcloths tucked away.

  2. What a great story! No wonder you knit so well and are so generous to those of us who labour along. You have such a wonderful knit legacy. I'm so glad for the day you showed up with your blue bunny story --and came back again.