Anytime you do one particular handcraft, you get this question a lot from people who don’t do any handcrafts at all “Why do you like doing _____?” It could be embroidery that you like, or sewing, or scrapbooking, or gardening, or making picture frames out of bent pieces of wire and beads. Sometimes, this question is asked with a sarcastic tone of voice, tempting you to provide them with reasons they can understand about why you wouldn’t just buy whatever it is you are making. Sometimes, this question is asked with wonder. It isn’t too much to imagine machines making certain products, but to do it by hand? This amazes some folks. Some people ask with the curious nature of wanting to know the reasons behind your behavior; they are eternally on the hunt for the puzzle, figuring out motive behind actions, and digging into the human psyche.
Keeping in mind all three of these people is how I decided to approach the answer to this question.
For the skeptic, I provide you with three reasons. The first, is that I am a difficult body type to fit. I am short, I am slim, I have virtually no hips to be seen, and quiet frankly, it’s expensive to have things tailored. Knitting my own garments ensures that I can tailor the piece as I make it, and it will fit me like a glove after. Secondly, machine knit accessories are knit mostly from acrylic yarns, and since I have poor circulation, this means they provide about zero-warmth factor for me in the winter. Therefore, I make my own scarves, hats, mittens, and fingerless gloves out of wool, because they actually keep my extremities insulated. Thirdly, it’s meditative. I have a high-stress job, a 5 year old step-daughter who lives with us part time, and I’m famous in my circle for being a “worrier.” Knitting keeps me from coming unglued around the edges. ‘Nuff said?
For the person in awe, I bow to you. You are my favorite person to answer this question for. I am as much amazed as you sometimes with the results of my work. In order to create what I create, I take two pointy needles, and a ball of yarn, and I pull loops through loops, over and over and over again. Sometimes these loops are knit together, sometimes I make more of them in the right places, but no matter what I do, in the end, it’s all loops. It’s practically magic, and it comes out looking beautiful. It makes my heart sing to see balls of yarn get turned into shawls, lacey socks, scarves, hats, and so many other things. The process of making these objects is enjoyable, and then at the end, I get to enjoy what I make, everyday. I can wear my socks, I can wrap my shawl around my shoulders, I can see how cute Morgan looks in her sunhat. Knitting brings me joy while I do it, and knitting brings me joy after the project is finished.
For the ever-curious one, because I love it. Looking at yarn is like looking at potential. Knitting itself can be so many things – challenging, relaxing, something to do to keep my hands busy, or just plain fun. I can be anticipating the colors on the next row of a self-striping sock yarn, or how to fix a mis-crossed cable ten rows back. Knitting provides me with challenges when my mind needs stimulation, and it provides me with comfort in times of crisis. And then, at the end of all that, I get to enjoy something solid and concrete, something real, something I can show people “I made that!” and it gives me pride in my accomplishments. I’m not a singer, or an actress, no do I have the power to make people weak in the knees with a single glance, I’ve got to have something to show off to others now and again, right?
And for all of you, I do it because I am a history buff. I love history, local history, European, Ancient Egyptian, doesn’t matter. It turns my crank. And knitting, well, it’s a historical thing. There is so much to be learned about how it was done, when it started, what kind of new techniques there are to be discovered, how many old ones we have yet to master. When I knit, I am doing something that millions of people have done for hundreds of years, and it puts me in a Jane Austen or Road to Avonlea kind of feeling. I am connected in a way, a very indirect way, to millions of other knitters, and well, I like that. I like that a lot.