Tuesday, June 29, 2004

A White Belt in Knitting

I know a woman who has a mantra that she has gleaned from her years of karate practice and it is this: "Everyone starts out a white belt."

There is no testing out of belts, so she tells me and this is something I have been thinking about lately. There have been some very thought provoking blogversations about knitters and knitting lately. Who are the smart knitters and who are the dumb ones? The Knitters and the knitters?

Rather than rehash any of that, I would rather think about beginnings. Everyone starts out with a cast on and a knit stitch.

And some stay there: one of my bosses on seeing me knit remarked, "You need to talk to my daughter. She doesn't know how to stop."

"Stop?" I was briefly excited about the idea of another fiberaddict.

"Yeah, she just knits these long [exasperated hand gesture indicating neverendingness] I-don't-know-whats."

"Scarves?" I replied.

"No, scarves have ends, these just go on. She doesn't know how to stop one."

I could picture her buying a new set of needles for every new not-scarf, and a whole basket overflowing with snaky UFOs...

So is this young knitter lacking guidance, discipline, or brains? Or is knitting maybe just not her bag? Or god forbid, is it just something to occupy her time, rather than consume it? Does everyone have to approach the act of looping loops of fiber as an art to be mastered or forsaken?

On the left is SR, the woman who taught me to knit, though "taught" is probably a strong word. I got a book and she gave suggestions about how to hold the needles. She has this wildly indefinable style of knitting—I wish I had a little streaming video—she holds one needle in her lap and throws with her left hand. You have to see it, really.

On the right is me, with my first bundle of hand-dyed wool. I am smiling because I have convinced SR that I am going to knit something with it. We are at the Taos Sheep and Wool Festival in Taos, New Mexico (Fall, 2000). {To Be Continued...}

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