knitted cake (Photo - Tanya Hart, flickr).

      knitted cake (Photo – Tanya Hart, flickr).

      Between seven and nine years old, my mother and grandmother tried to teach me all kinds of textile crafts: knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, embroidery, and needlepoint. You name it – they tried to teach it.

      By Robin Southworth

      Things they learned at the same age (in 1912 and 1937, respectively). I, however, was a child of the 70’s and living in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California. I wanted to ride my bicycle very fast down very quiet country roads. Climbing walnut trees and peering into bird nests was more fun than crocheting a chain. The local creek held more allure than a lovely skein of wool. At 42, out of desperation and frustration, I picked up a pair of knitting needles, tried to remember knitting lessons long forgotten, and an addiction was born. 2015 marks the tenth anniversary of that addiction. What has knitting taught me in those ten years?

      I am a serial hobbyist

      Winter Hat (Photos - Opinionated Quaker on Ravelry and Rave lldSleeve, flickr).

      Winter Hat (Photos – Opinionated Quaker on Ravelry and Rave lldSleeve, flickr).

      I go through spurts of hobbies. There was the year I spent having fun with stage combat. There were a couple of years making jewelry. Well, beaded things, really. There were the years I studied tap dance. None of those lasted more than five years. Some call my theatre-making a hobby; others know better.

      People who swear they can’t be taught how to knit, CAN knit, if they want to learn

      Linen Fingerless Mitts (Photo - Robin Southworth).

      Linen Fingerless Mitts (Photo – Robin Southworth).

      My friend “D” said his grandmother tried to teach him to knit as a child, but he couldn’t figure out how to make the needles do their thing. He was bummed that he couldn’t knit because it looked like such fun. I offered to teach him to knit. We sat on a bench, I literally sat behind him, put my hands over his, and made his hands do the motions. He finally got it. That was about five or six years ago. He isn’t the fasted knitter, but he does beautiful work. He also knits things I wouldn’t expect: teddy bears, men’s hats, felted belts.

      Knitting isn’t for everyone

      Misti Alpaca Yarn ((Photo - Robin Southworth).

      Misti Alpaca Yarn ((Photo – Robin Southworth).

      Holding a ball of yarn in your lap while simultaneously weaving with a couple of sticks isn’t fun for a lot of people. Some can’t even fathom WHY you would do that. They would rather watch you knit and marvel at what you do. That’s okay. There is a hobby for everyone out there. Sometimes you just have to keep trying one until you find one you like. That’s why I have a shoe box full of jewelry-making tools and another shoe box containing a pair of tap shoes.

      Knitting is not a tidy hobby

      Fuzzy mohair yarn (Photo - Robin Southworth).

      Fuzzy mohair yarn (Photo – Robin Southworth).

      Oh, sure, it LOOKS tidy. A ball of yarn, a couple of needles, and a garment. Did you look on the floor? Those snips of yarn. The stray stitch marker. The reading glasses. The scissors are somewhere around here – careful if you sit down. Like some more tea?

      There is more to knitting than scarves, hats, and slippers

      Malabrigo yarn swatch (Photo - Robin Southworth).

      Malabrigo yarn swatch (Photo – Robin Southworth).

      Those items have their place, but I prefer sweaters, bags, and socks. I’m also rather fond of kitchen items: pot holders, place settings, napkins (knit from linen or lace-weight cotton), or table runners. What do YOU like to knit?

      Knitting turns off the logical part of my brain and helps me focus creatively

      Rambling Rows Afghan -Finished (Photo - Robin Southworth).

      Rambling Rows Afghan -Finished (Photo – Robin Southworth).

      I occasionally work as a dramaturge, cutting Shakespearean scripts for directors. When I find myself stuck on how to cut a script to meet a time limit, or how to tell the story while still keeping the good lines people remember, I whip out the knitting needles and knit for a bit. Inevitably, while knitting, I will think of a solution.

      Knitting at the end of the day relaxes me and prepares me for bed

      Wrist warmers (Photo - Robin Southworth).

      Wrist warmers (Photo – Robin Southworth).

      Turning off the logical, always-thinking part of my brain allows my body to slow down and relax. Being relaxed helps me to get to sleep faster.

      Perhaps some day I will walk away from knitting. Today is not that day. Excuse me while I get back to a swatch I’m working on.

      Go. Knit!

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