Knit One, Purl Two, Link Three, Chain Four.

Posted by on Sep 11, 2017

After a 28-year sabbatical, I recently decided to try free-hand knitting again. That means knitting without a pattern. In this case, I took one of my favourite linen tops by my friend Jannis Ruck of Olio Eco Clothing and used it as my guide (you can see the black top peeking out from under the blue organic cotton top I am knitting).

I learned how to knit when I was five years old – the summer before I started kindergarten. Amazing to think that I could knit before I could print. My Mother taught me. Although I think she thought I was too young to learn, I was so insistent, she gave in, and we went and bought enough wool for me to make my first scarf. From the very beginning, I seemed to have an innate ability to understand tension, remember how to cast on and knit one row and then purl the next row. What I learned was the knitting staple known as “stocking stitch”.

By the time I was 12 years old, I was designing and knitting my own creations that I made up in my head, based on all those patterns that I had followed in my earlier knitting years. I really don’t know why I decided that I could just “make it up” and it would work out, but I did – and they did work out. I guess that’s what’s so great about learning something as a child: you are so naive, you think you can do anything. It never occurs to you, it might be too hard…or that it might not work out.

I continued to knit right up until I was 27 years old. That was the year I returned to school and enrolled in George Brown College’s Jewellery Art & Design three-year diploma program. And that’s when all the knitting stopped and the jewellery designing began. It’s been that way ever since.

Then, out of the blue this summer, I decided that I felt like trying to knit again. I consulted with a couple of knitting friends, even got a pattern that I thought I would start with. But then I woke up one morning and thought, “Why am I doing that? I should just pick up where I left off and knit my own pattern.”

Wanting to start with something relatively easy, I decided that taking one of my favourite sleeveless summer linen tops and re-creating it in cotton would probably be just the challenge I was looking for.

Well, let me tell you, knitting is like riding a bike, you never really forget and if you do, YouTube is full of reminders about the finer points. The treasure trove of knitting resources out there isn’t the only thing that’s changed. The yarn selection is amazing compared to when I quit 28 years ago! Since I last knit, yarn itself has become a bit of an art form, with incredible indie dyers and lots of Canadian companies making yarns in virtually every fibre combination available.

Another thing that’s different – seems you can only buy quality yarn in skein form, which means you have to either wind the skein into a ball yourself (horribly tedious job) or ask your yarn store to wind it for you using their “swift” (a spider-like contraption that holds the skein) and their winding machine that winds your yarn into a tidy little “cake”.

Skein in True Red on your left. Same yarn but in Graphite on your right, wound into a “cake”.

Anyone who knows me, knows I love any type of machine – whether it is hand-powered or motorized. You just have to step into my workshop to understand that I LOVE machinery! Boy did I LOVE the hand yarn winding machine at the yarn store. I began to think, that’s the real sub-conscious reason I was drawn back into the world of knitting…just to get an up-close-and-personal look at the process of winding a ball of yarn.

But really, someone once told me, “Where you start, is where you’ll finish. Life is like a circle and you’ll always end up back where you started.” When I think about my journey – starting out knitting, giving it up to make room for all that jewellery making, then picking the traditional art of making chain by hand as my specialty – and then recognizing my knitting influence in how I build my chain patterns (which is probably why I was drawn to it in the first place). I really am just taking wire and manipulating it link by link into the patterns – and now this year, I am back free-hand knitting again and loving it!

Stay tuned in the coming months to see how the return of knitting into my life affects the way I work with my jewellery designs. I definitely have come full circle, but the big difference in coming back to the place where you started, is you have all this knowledge you didn’t have the first time around. Hmmmmmm, think I’m kinda loving starting again. Who knows where I’ll end up this time?

My finished sleeveless top. Thought I’d drape my sterling silver Fiddle Styx Necklace on top, just so you can see the natural creative course I have been on for fifty years!