Sunday, October 27, 2013

My First Knitting Project

The story of my first knitting project reads more like the story of when my life really began.

It was the summer of 2008 and my husband and I had just moved to Albuquerque New Mexico to be close to my folks. (My folks retired here in 1997 and I always knew I would move here it was just a question of when). For years I had been hearing stories about my Mom's knitting friends who had really become family to her. She belonged to 3 knitting groups and met with them all faithfully. The first was a Monday night group which was composed of 4-5 very close friends and they rotated between everyone's home each Monday. The second was a Tuesday night knitting group which, over the years has changed meeting locations. In 2008 they were meeting at an Asian Noodle Place which happily accommodated the group comprised of anywhere between 7 and 15 or more people. The third group she belonged to was the local Albuquerque Dropped Stitch Knitters Guild. The Guild met once a month and participated in lots of other activities. Knitting was super important to my Mom. Knitting, spinning, dyeing and designing has been a part of her life since I was very small. The only knitting I ever did was when I was about 8 yrs old. I can faintly remember handling a pair of knitting needles and trying to do the knit stitch. I was a kid and not that into it. To me, it was always just something my Mom and Grandmother did. 

Shortly after we moved here, within the first month, I decided I wanted to learn this whole knitting thang. We moved to Albuquerque to be close to my folks and I wanted to take part and share in this knitting stuff with my Mom. It was so important to her and had been forever. My Mom and I have always been very close friends and I really wanted to share this thing I knew so little about with her. Sometime within the first 30 days I met my Mom at the Asian Noodle Place to meet her friends I had heard so much about. After being introduced to everyone I announced to the group "someone please  gimme some sticks! I wanna do this!" My Mom gave me some of her gorgeous handspun fingering weight yarn and cast on the first row of a scarf for me. She taught me the knit stitch and told me to just stick with that and practice that stitch. My Aunt Betty (not really my Aunt but not all family are blood relatives) gave me a beginners book for me to flip through and read. By the next morning I had completed about 4-5 inches of garter stitch and was bored out of my mind and wanted to learn more. I picked up the book Betty gave me and taught myself the purl stitch. I worked on that enough so that I had it down and then I ripped everything out back to the cast on. I had to leave that there because I didn't know how to cast on yet! I called my Mom and asked her for some more of her beautiful handspun in a couple more colors. I had an idea. One of the things that was important to me was that my project, even my very first one, be one that doesn't just sit on the shelf. I wanted it to be beautiful and I wanted it to be something I would wear.

I now had 3 colors of my Mom's beautiful handspun merino in fingering weight to work with. Before I go on let me remind you that I had no clue what Ravelry was. I think in 2008 Ravelry may had even still been in its beta stage I'm not sure. I didn't have patterns or books (other than the one Betty had given me) and I had nothing but what was in my mind to create. I had no stitch markers or row counters or any notions like that. I had Post-Its! I was confident in my knit and purl stitches to start knitting the picture in my mind. I remember being so excited about knitting that when I woke in the morning it was the only thing I could think about. I got a cup of coffee and went right to my knitting. I was working from home at the time so at 9am I would log in to work, all the while thinking about knitting. Any break I took I spent it knitting. When I was done with my work in the evening I gathered my things and started to knit. It was all I could think about. I felt like I had stepped into this huge world I knew so little about and I loved it. I felt like it was what was missing in my life. I had started to create a basket weave patterned scarf alternating each row of blocks with a different color. I wouldn't let my Mom see it until a week later when I had about a foot and a half of it done. I'll never forget when I first showed it to my Mom. We had gone to Casa Rondena Winery to have a glass of wine and sit and knit on a Saturday afternoon. I was patient and made her and Betty wait until we had our wine and we were out sitting below a canopy of vines to show them. They were so excited and couldn't believe what I had done! 


Looking back on those early days of knitting what I remember the most is the excitement. It was an excitement I had never known before. I had discovered something I truly felt had been missing from my life for 38 yrs. From this very first project, I should've known designing was the most natural course of progression for me. I felt like an artist who had just discovered her medium. Since this very first project and that first evening at the Asian Noodle Place, my life has become filled with the best friends I have ever had in my life, the most talented people I have known, and the most generous, giving and caring people I have ever met. My husband says I changed. I suppose I did. It was the most needed change and discovery a person could ever have of themselves. My Mom claims knitting is genetic...

P.S. This story of my first knitting project is being entered into a contest with Interweave. Should I be fortunate enough for my story to be found either humorous or heartwarming by the lovely folks there I have been asked to list the 5 items I would like to have in my prize package. Those items are as follows:
                                 1. The Ashbury Knitted Mitts Kit in Natural Cream
                                 2. Jane Austin Knits 2013
                                 3. Mink Leadville Knitted Cowl Kit
                                 4. Orenburg Knitting: Knitting Gossamer Webs with Galina Khmeleva
                                 5. Darjeeling Shawl

9 comments:

  1. Lovely introduction! Keep up the good work.

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  2. Of course it's genetic...

    signed: Kay The Arky (Claudia's mom)

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  3. Claudia, your story is so inspiring. I have read it and re-read it because it makes me happy. Sharing knitting with your mother is such a beautiful blessing. I shared the same with my Grandmothers who taught me to sew, crochet & cook. We did all sorts of projects together, and now that they are watching me from above...sewing & crochet somehow is not the same for me anymore, so I have decided I want to start knitting. Something just for me, and to hopefully have new close relationships, like starting the first day of my new creative life.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I think it's a winner!
    ~Michelle

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  4. Michelle,

    Thank you so much for your kind words. And yes! Start your new creative life! You're already meeting new friends who do what you do...like me! You can always find me here or on Ravelry as mrsdonnelly. I'm so excited you are starting something new just for you. I think you'll find the fiber community to be a wonderful one full of incredibly open and accepting people willing to share ideas!

    Thanks again, I am glad you liked my story. I put my words out there not sure if they really reach anyone. I'm glad they reached you :-)

    Claudia

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  5. Do you have a written pattern for this scarf? It's gorgeous!

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    1. When I made this scarf I didnt write the pattern down I just did it. I think its blocks of 16 sts x 16 rows alternating garter and stockinette. Its your basic basket weave only in big chunks and at the time I didnt know it was called basket weave! Play around with it like I did. You might want your blocks bigger or smaller or more of them across than what I did. I truly made this up as I went along. If I had any idea at some point people would be asking for the pattern I would have written it down!!! Best of luck to you!

      Claudia

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  6. Hi, Claudia!
    I really liked Your story. Congratulations, You were one of the winners (as You already know ;) )!
    I share this same passion for knitting like You. I was learning to knit when I was about 6 or 7 years old. and it was my great-grandmother, Who gave me needles and yarn and tought the first sticthes... So I'v been knitting ever since like 7 years mostly tableclothes and now 6 years like shawls, mittens, socks, some sweaters etc. There have been some pauses, but now I feel like I'm really mad for knitting.
    So, now I send this comment and go on knitting patterned socks "Roses With Love"

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    1. Hi Annyke,
      Thanks so much for the kind words. Yes, I was so happy, and a bit shocked, that I was chosen as a winner. I had hoped but like I've said before...you put your words out there not being really sure if they reach anyone. I'm glad they have reached and touched a few people. It means a lot to me.
      I missed being able to knit with my grandmother by just a little over a year. She died before I learned how. It wouldve been fun to have knitted with her and to have 3 generations knitting together! But all things happen for a reason and I started when I did. Perhaps she continues to knit through me..
      Have fun knitting your socks! Thanks again!

      Claudia

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