I remember the moment I decided I wanted to learn how to knit. I remember the very moment — and I have no explanation whatsoever. It was the weirdest thing. It was Thanksgiving morning, I was 19 and home for the weekend from university, and when I woke up — even before I sat up in bed — the first thought that entered my mind was, “I want to learn to knit.” I have no idea why — this was long before knitting hit its recent popularity and long before the internet existed. I knew no one who knit, I had no knitting influence whatsoever… and yet, when I woke up that morning, I just knew in my bones that I wanted to knit.
I padded down to the kitchen in my bare feet and PJs. The Macy’s parade was on television in the other room, and my mother already had the turkey in the oven and seemed to have fifteen other dishes on the go at once. If I’d have had any sense, I’d have got stuck in helping her, but I can remember standing there, at the corner of the kitchen island, next to a bowl of stuffing and an uncooked pumpkin pie and announcing as if it were the most important thing in the world, “I want to learn to knit.”
My mother probably wanted to throw a wooden spoon at my head and demand to know why I wasn’t helping her, but she didn’t. She first promised she would teach me — later. And then she ordered me to help with dinner. Quite right too.
After Thanksgiving dinner, my mother and I sat down with some mismatched metal needles she’d found in cupboard and some cheap acrylic yarn. I can remember my excitement even now. But it had been years since my mum had knit and it turned out that she could hardly remember how… She couldn’t work out how to cast on and then, when she did, she realised she could knit but couldn’t remember how to purl! And she had no recollection of binding off at all. But, none of that mattered to me: I had stitches on the needles and, as I discovered that lovely rhythm of making knit stitch after knit stitch, something magical began to happen… That special magical thing that knitting does, that all knitters know. And so that day — my first glorious day of knitting — I worked acrylic yarn into endless rows of garter stitch, and I was happy. Deeply, meditatively, knitterly happy.
I think the moment that any knitter or crocheter first picks up needles or hooks and learns how to turn yarn into fabric is something special. No one ever realises it at the time — they’re just “trying it out” — but they have started on a journey… One that goes from cheap yarn and simple scarves and eventually moves onto more challenging projects, more beautiful yarn, sometimes works of art and, most importantly, that need to create — at least a little — every single day. It’s a wonderful thing …and no one ever realises on that first day.
When was your first day?