Monday, June 13, 2011

reasons to knit...

A letter came the other day, rather fitting, as it’s been a year since the end of KNITWORDS magazine. Barbara Davis of Chicago often wrote a letter, along with her renewal. I have never met Barbara, but she wrote as though we were friends. In this letter, she began by telling me that she had been shocked and unable to respond at the time because her husband was ill - he passed away in November. She told me: ‘when I was unable to knit because of duties and caring for several ill family members at once, I would read the magazine and try to plan some time to knit. I remember an article you wrote about using small periods of time and I used that to plan and start learning to use my machine.’
Later, referring to a series where I would make a garment for my grandson and explain the techniques in an article and in the next issue, had an adult garment using the same techniques, she went on to say how she was really hooked with the idea of small articles/projects that took less time - it took small amounts of yarn and fit in small time periods. She mentioned how she ‘watched Nathan grow from a baby to a little boy with lots of hoodies knit by Grandma who adores him.’ I had a huge lump in my throat.
She went on to tell me: ‘You fulfilled your mission - you educated, encouraged, inspired and excited the subscribers. You gave patterns, diagrams and special articles to help beginners and seniors like me. The photography was excellent. The one ingredient you sent that was priceless was LOVE - it came in every issue! Thank you, Mary Anne.’
Thank you, Barbara! After I got over my tears I thought I would find that article and share it with you. From KNITWORDS No 31: it was my ‘editorial’ column - I always called it my ‘reasons to knit’ letter.

It’s been said, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Or is it? The comments I most often hear when I go to workshops and seminars are, ‘the garments look so much better in person’ or ‘the photos don’t really do justice to the garments’. I say thank you, because it would be terrible if it were the other way around and we get into a discussion about how can we make the photos better. I conclude we can’t. I think they are very good. The photo is flat, with no dimension, there is no getting around it. We do try to show the flow and drape of the fabric and the shape of the garment in the pose. The viewer needs to have an open mind and look at the overall information and analyze it. Combine the photo with the details in the pattern, the schematic, the close-up shots and the yarn information and other than a real live trunk show, it doesn’t get much better than that.
One of my favourite topics is a discussion of the quality of our finished product. I feel very strongly that in order to end up with a quality garment you need to have first rate yarn to begin with, and, good techniques and finishing methods to take care of the final details. I frequently hear the knitter has been unhappy or dissatisfied with her end product and, after seeing our garments, comes to the conclusion the reason for her own disappointment is the yarns she has used were not up to par. Been there, done that! I don’t understand the idea of wanting to make a garment or whatever for $25. You have spent good money on the equipment to work with, yet are afraid to commit further with good materials. Why invest in machines, software, training and most important, your time, to make a item that can be purchased at Wal-Mart for $30?
Here’s another remark. ‘I don’t knit anymore because I have no time.’ Set your priorities and make time. Instead of trying to set aside an entire day of the week just for knitting, which can be frustrating and counter-productive, take small bites. Knit a swatch one day. Set up your plan of attack for the next day and get your pattern ready, whether you are working from scratch or working from a written pattern, prepare everything and get organized. Try the 15 minute approach. Have it all ready to fit 15 minutes of knitting in here and there. Knit a sleeve in 2 or 3 fifteen minute periods throughout the day, between other chores or whatever. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish and how much more fun it will be. Enjoy the smaller successes and they will quickly add up to a finished product.
Does any of this strike a chord? Ask yourself these questions. Why are you knitting? What are your expectations in this craft? Your answers may help you gain some satisfaction.

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