Creative Endeavors: Knit pick

Melinda Mawdsley attempts to cast on yarn to begin knitting a Garter Stich Baby Blanket made of knitted blocks of fabric.



This is the face of concentration. Unfortunately, Melinda Mawdsley didn’t take to knitting. The yarn kept falling off the needles and she managed to knit the wrong end of yarn into her block.



QUICKREAD

I WANT A CREATIVE OUTLET to talk about my first pregnancy without subjecting my co-workers to random thoughts or questions, so I’m going to blog about it at the Breakfast for Dinner blog Rachel and I share at gjsentinel.com/blogs/breakfast_for_dinner.

My first blog post will recount my first trimester where I tried to hide my pregnancy, despite my need to eat ALL THE TIME! Going forward, however, I hope to use it as a forum to engage with parents of all ages. I have lots of questions, such as, “Why do some strollers cost more than a used car?”

CREATIVE ENDEAVORS

Pinterest is full of fabulous, idyllic-looking things to try. Once a month, The Daily Sentinel’s features staff will pick something to create. There will be failures and triumphs and plenty to laugh about along the way.



I love the arts — all of them — but I was not blessed with many artistic bones in my body, particularly when it comes to crafts using one’s hands.

(Perhaps this is not the best time to mention a documentary I remember watching in middle school about a woman who was born without arms, but who lived a tremendously full life doing everything with her feet. She even canned tomatoes! It was one of the most excellent things I’ve ever seen.) (This is Rachel, by the way.)

Painting? I can but only with supervision from a professional.

Sewing? I escaped middle school home economics with a barely usable duffel bag.

Piano? I play but was never destined to be an acclaimed pianist.

That brings us to my latest belly flop into the creative deep end: knitting.

For several years, fellow features writer Rachel Sauer has encouraged me to take up knitting. She knits. Features editor Ann Wright knits. Apparently, everyone knits in this happy world of sweaters and super cute scarves.

(Don’t forget the super cute hats and afghans! And mittens that appear to be for someone with approximately one inch of thumb on each hand, not that I would know anything about this.)

“It’s relaxing,” they say.

(It is! Except for when it’s not, and then you furiously cut whatever you’ve been knitting into teeny, tiny pieces because #@&*%$!!! Again, not that I would know anything about this.)

“You’ll like making practical things yourself,” they add.

“You can do it while watching ‘Project Runway’,” Rachel finally enticed.

(“You Can Do it While Watching ‘Project Runway’: The Melinda Mawdsley Story.”)

Thanks to our Creative Endeavors series, in which we find one thing a month on Pinterest to try recreating, I finally had a reason to learn to knit.

Well that, and the recent discovery that my husband and I are expecting our first child. That’s right, I’m pregnant! (I can finally buy that onesie that reads, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”)

When I told Rachel I was having a baby and that I really wanted to knit my baby’s first blanket, she immediately looked on Pinterest to find an idea.

(That was reaction No. 2. Reaction No. 1 was several minutes of squealing and swooning and fluttering my hands.)

I wanted something simple because I had never knitted before. Oh, and it needed to be soft and cute.

We picked a blanket made of squares that would eventually be sewn together with a simple whip stitch. It will look like a mini quilt but with yarn squares created by knitting a garter stitch. The Garter Stitch Baby Blanket is at pinterest.com/pin/73535406389719748 and was pinned from Sunshine Yarn’s blog at sunshineyarns.com/blog/?attachment_id=493.

Rachel said it would be simple (It would! But I’m kind of a liar sometimes.) and offered to teach me. We went shopping for yarn in a color palette I loved. She found this fuzzy, multi-hued blue yarn with hints of lime green. Although the pattern called for multiple solid colors, we did what we do best — modify — because blue is my favorite color and my husband loves green.

(And here’s where anyone with any knitting experience sighs until their lungs collapse and shakes their head mournfully at my idiocy. I know. I know! Learning how to knit on fuzzy, slippery yarn is a TERRIBLE idea. I admit, I am a dingbat who frequently allows enthusiasm to trump reason and good sense.)

We got a pizza — what we always eat before projects — and sat down to this wonderful, relaxing new world of knitting.

LIES!

I don’t blame Rachel. (She should.) She was a great teacher and reiterated that learning to knit is tough and takes patience. I was doing so well, blah, blah, blah.

(She was doing so well! I would have put a sticker on her hand, like I did for my students in China when they did a good job, but she was holding potential weapons in the form of knitting needles and I wasn’t wearing eye protection.)

Truth is, I stunk. Plus, it wasn’t fun. The yarn kept falling off the needles. I stitched the wrong end into my square. Twice. I’m not even sure how I did it.

After 90 minutes, I had stitched about six rows of one 25-row square. Rachel said we should stop because we have months to finish and there’s no sense getting frustrated.

(I mean, what’s the big rush? Plus, to make her feel better, I regaled her with tales of all the times I reached the frayed end of my extremely long rope, crafting-wise, and just cratered. To wit: a snap installation tool hurled across the living room in frustrated rage, an extremely bad word angrily scrawled over a failed attempt at Chinese calligraphy, a half-finished skirt cut in pieces because JUST FORGET IT, I’D SOONER WALK AROUND NAKED. I’m an inspiring instructor.)

Well, I like to be good at things NOW! Walking away wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted to work faster and get better. I needed improvement and happiness for this experiment to continue.

Rachel suggested she bring smoother yarn and smaller needles to continue our lesson the next day, hoping that my muscles would more easily convert the movements to memory.

“You’ll get better,” she said. “It just takes patience.”

Well, I tried for a second time. And I cried. And then I gave up knitting. In my defense, I cry at everything right now. But at one point in my second lesson with the allegedly easier yarn, an entire line of stitches fell off my needle and onto the table.

(It just dribbled like sad spaghetti, truly one of the most tragic things I’ve seen all week. I felt just awful about the whole thing.)

What a Pinterest fail, at least for me.

Rachel has agreed to knit the rest of the blanket, but I will whip stitch the squares together because supposedly it’s an easy stitch, and “you can do it,” Rachel said.

(She neglected my manic, multiple exclamation marks: “You can do it!!!!”)

It ultimately will be a baby blanket for my child, so I want to contribute, and Rachel is happy to give this gift to me.

I have learned two valuable lessons in this project. One, trust my gut. I knew I wouldn’t like knitting.

The second? Some people in this world knit their wares for others, and some people in this world buy those wares in the circle of retail life. I am the latter.

(Awww, isn’t she nice? “Knit their wares for others.” I sometimes think of it as “inflict their wares on others.” But this blanket is going to be a delight, as is Melinda’s baby!)


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While creating stitched arts is easy for some of us, writing about such debacles with great humor, as you have, may not be so.  What a wonderful laugh to start the day.

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