Knitting Along: The Art of Knitting Together

With the summer of 2017 threatening the biggest MKAL (Mystery Knit Along) of the year, Starting Point by Joji Locatelli, and some five thousand plus women and men signed  up, sharing pictures of their yarn choices in blogs, Ravelry groups, Facebook, and on Instagram. I was so excited for the experience of knitting with so many other makers, there were chats and people anticipating what we thought might be coming our way. We had all picked our yarn, five different colors of hand dyed yarns of various hues and variegation. Some folks’ picks were bright and colorful, others more neutral and muted. I took the last road except for the chartreuse and even that one had a bit of a muted gold undertone.  As I looked at my yarn choices and compared to others I began to second guess myself and the darned Knit Along hadn’t even been cast on.

This was my first Mystery Knit Along but by now I was a fairly accomplished knitter. Intermediate patterns were quite normal for me, but I was a lone knitter. I didn’t belong to a knit group, although I would have loved that, nor did I have any friends who were knitters. I have always been an introvert and so sitting in my house by myself knitting away with an audio book or tv show providing the noise made me happy. However, I longed for the community of knitters I had heard about so much. The only local yarn shop in our area didn’t host knit groups and I wasn’t sure how to go about finding them. I turned to the internet, Facebook, and Instagram. There I found hundreds of knitters from all around the world. They were of all different skill levels and they used all different kinds of yarn. By now I had started using more moderately priced yarns and I had splurged on some hand dyed. Five skeins of hand dyed yarn was a big purchase, somewhere in the neighborhood of $125 or more if you could afford it. I was committed now, I was stepping off the edge into the world of hand dyed yarn and all that went with it. Knit Along or bust…

My gorgeous granddaughter Lily in my Starting Point Wrap

I am not a fast knitter by any means. I can knit very fast, but I hate it. I am definitely a process knitter. I love the build, the yarn in my fingers and the wonder of string becoming something new. The construction of a sweater, the anatomy of a sock, an asymmetrical shawl, short row shaping, yarn overs and slip slip knits. There is so much you can do with a knit stitch and a purl stitch: two simple stitches. I received my first of five different pattern “Clues” and my journey into the Starting Point Wrap began. I was ready and I spent hours knitting. I had to make two panels that were exactly the same. No problem, I could do that. I started looking at my color choices and I wasn’t sure if they were really working, and after looking at Ravelry, I was sure a few, quite a few other knitters were in the same boat as me. Many were questioning , but many more experienced MKAL knitters were trusting the designer and trusting themselves. Within a couple of hours participants had posted the first pictures of their finished panel and shortly after they were posting pictures of their second panel, finished and ready for the next clue. Here I sat in my backyard knitting and listening to a book and I was barely into my first color change, let alone my panel being finished… and certainly not both of them! My confidence took a hit. How can these people be done so fast? Do they have nothing else to do? Do they have lightning in their fingers? I must be a horrible knitter. That’s it, I am no good. 

I pushed along and got my first two panels ready for the following week’s clue that had come out a few hours early. I knit, knit, and knit some more. I went onto Ravelry and there they were. Finished panels. HOW? Now I was SURE I had no idea what I was doing. I made a mistake in my lace section and had to take it out and fix it. It took so much time and I was frustrated, the fun and excitement were gone. Vaporized. I was seriously depressed. Why can’t I keep up? I need to knit faster, knit better and what about these awful colors?? I had bought this beautiful yarn and messed it all up. I was a fraud. Clue three came out, and I wasn’t ready. Clue four, and I am further behind. I quit checking Ravelry because I didn’t want those folks to make me feel like a failure. I am just gonna put this out there… I was pathetic. I had forgotten why I was knitting. I was knitting to be part of something. I was knitting to learn something new. I was knitting to be a part of a community. I was knitting to be part of something bigger. I was knitting because I LOVE to knit. It feeds my soul and yet I had let every insecurity I had ever had rob me of the one thing I had that made me feel accomplished. By clue five my needles had long been abandoned and stuffed into a bag. Starting Point had beat me, or had it? I am pretty sure I had beaten myself.

It is now 2021, I am going through old knitting projects and trying to decide what to do with them. I had long ago used my Starting Point yarn for other projects, but there it was still taunting me from inside a project bag tucked away and still on the needles. Jazzie and I had started our yarn dyeing business, so hand dyed yarns are always at my fingertips. I picked five new colors that in some sort of karmic way are very similar to my original colors and I tore that old shawl from the needles and I began anew. This time I knit with our knit night group at the yarn shop I now own. I have made a few steps forward in many areas, but comparing my knitting to those better than me is still a huge issue. As I knit this wrap, first panel one and then its twin, I fell in love with this knit. It is beautiful and it feels good in my hands. I feel strong, I feel confident as the yarn changes from color to color. I wasn’t sure if it was really working but I trusted the designer and moreover I trusted myself. There weren’t over five thousand others knitting with me, but that was okay because I have nothing to prove to them. Not that they ever asked, as a matter of fact they were all very gracious after I would post my meager progress. The only person I needed to prove anything to was myself. I knit this gorgeous wrap and I keep it in the shop where I can see it. It reminds me that I am perfect just the way I am. If I don’t get things knitted as fast as or as perfect as others, so what? This is my knitting and I LOVE to knit. 

I am on the eve of my next MKAL, Steven West’s Shawlography. I may be crazy, but this one I will be knitting with our knit group at the shop. We will all compare our yarn choices and our progress,  we will all encourage one another  and when I get behind they will tease me and I will laugh because in the end, I knit for me and because somehow knitting makes me feel safe in my surroundings, it calms me, it grounds me. Knitting reminds me to be grateful, grateful to the animal for sharing its coat, grateful because my hands work. Knitting reminds me that I am blessed to do what I love. So knit because it makes you feel good, accomplished, and happy. Knit to learn, to give, and to keep. Knit because you LOVE to knit and don’t ever let anyone take it away from you, especially yourself. Don’t be your critic, be your cheerleader! Laugh, love, and cuss at the mistakes in your lace. Just knit.

Here i am in my beautiful wrap I learned so much knitting this.

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