Please do not judge my theme choice for this weekly theme; because it definitely appears that a theme has developed. And, that's okay. I like socks.
In fact, when my gal pal and I started knitting last fall (Has it been nearly a year already?), I could not wait to dig my brand new bamboo knitting needles into a ball of colorful sock wool.Learning our purls and our knits required investing into the creation of four winter carves. The first project was totally in the knit stitch, which looked really cool when finished. This project too the longest of all of the scarf projects, but really looked "solid".
Next came the 100% Purl Scarf, which looked rather loopy what with the looser stitches.
And then...we got to mix it up and combine our knowledge of knit and purl. When a knitter elects to do this, she has taken on what is referred to as stockinette. I really enjoyed this challenge. Performing the stockinette made me feel like a real knitter and I loved the outcome.
Our final project required a more intricate combination of knits and purls, increases and decreases, etc. With my BFF flying through these projects, this one stumped me, grinding me to a halt. I realized that I might be in over my head and I needed to revisit some of the more simplistic knitting patterns. And knitting can be an expensive sport! When I looked around my living room, I was dumbfounded at the amount of argon, angora, wool, cotton piled high against walls, taking over the piano bench, and hiding from my yarn loving cat.
And the tools! I had collected one-pointed needles of various sizes, two sets of circular needles (that I have yet to try), two-pointed needles, stitch holders, stitch markers, gauge measuring tools, patterns, three knitting manuals, project bags, yarn bowls...oh, the list goes on and on. I am grateful that I learned to appreciate good ol' Walmart yarn instead of falling prey to the beautiful yarns of area llama farmers and wool traders. Talk about breaking the bank!
As winter neared, J and I began discussing possible Christmas gifts made from our own hands. But all we had thus far was an array of expensive scarves. No they were not made of Sweetheart yarn, because our knitting instructor insisted that we purchase yarn from her store in exchange for her expert instruction (plus a staggering class fee). We were becoming skeptical about this necessity and began exploring alternate knitting venues.
Still no socks, though.
While the scarves were a fun introduction to this awesome world of knitting, we craved something new.
And, lo and behold, J found our something new.
After an hour's drive I met my friend at the sweetest little knitting shop, located not far from my family's mountain retreat. I realized immediately that meeting here would need to be a well-planned event for me. Our former knitting hang-out required us both to travel about 25 minutes to meet at a geographical mid-point fro our respective homes. This lovely, storybook yarn shop is closer to her home than to mine, but the drive is well-worth the effort.
Sandy, the proprietor, is absolutely lovely, patient, kind and helpful. Her yarns are exquisite and her shop is a place I could easily curl up and live in. There are couches, tables, arm chairs, soft music playing, the aroma of fresh brewed coffee, and a back-in-time atmosphere that truly complements the purpose of our visit. Sandy even has two awesome kitty cats named...
Knit and Purl!
Oh, I knew that J had found our home away from home.
And we learned...oh, how we learned. At least J did. I'm still struggling with our first project attempt.
This easy, lightening fast (c'mon, fellow knitters, you know the lingo) pattern requires the use of four double pointed needles. Yep, you heard me. Four...double pointed...knitting needles.
J was jumping at the bit to get started. (She had already been studying ahead and felt much more confident than I.) After selecting our preferred yarns, we listened to Sandy give us preliminary directions and the followed her lead of her arranging our collection of bamboo. It was a struggle for sure.
J made it all the way to the completion of a thumb on her first mitten. By the time that we left Sandy (We were there almost four hours!), J was looking forward to completing mitten two before our next visit. L (that's me) was still struggling to get to the thumb's base.
Two weeks later we met again to complete our mittens.
As I type this, my glance falls on that beautiful autumnal ball of yarn under the piano bench and I make an earnest decision to finish that first mitten some time soon.
Going out on our own, J and I have finished several projects over the summer and explored the possibility of many more. Dish cloths, baby hats, baby blankets...I can check those all off my to-do list. She has also mastered the art of felting and has completed several pairs of house slippers. Right now we are both experiencing the frustration of multiple start overs on our respective shawl projects.
It's been a while since we visited Sandy together and with fall in the air, I know that J and I will have a reunion in the not too distant future.
Maybe this years we will knit socks.
Because I do love socks...
They offer that warming comfort much like that of a favorite of childhood teddy bear.
I love the argyles and the soft wools. I love the preppy tow and heal colors and the little border of an expensive boot sock. I love perusing the LL Bean catalog and finding un-affordable matching sweaters to coordinate with my sock collection. Yes, it is time to make my own pair of socks. And, I will indulge in the pricey yearn for this endeavor.
Of course, I realize that sock knitting is very similar to mitten knitting in that there are multiple needles involved and a need for multiple non-existent working hands.
But, that's okay. It is a challenge. Just like MS.
We do what we can and hope for the best. I have learned that we are only accountable to ourselves when it comes to the MonSter. It is our journey and often times the fewer participants, the better.
But there is help out there.
Through the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, I have been given the opportunity to organize a Marion County MS Self-help group. This is the first official group in this area since I was diagnosed in 2001. (Read more of my adventures in MS self-help, circa early RX in my book, I Have MS. What's Your Super Power?
http://headlinebooks.com/) My goal for this group is to provide a safe, uplifting, fun place for folks in my area to hook up and share their experiences. Maybe some one there will help me with my second mitten or even have advice on sock knitting!
I can use all the help I can get. We all can.
We meet the first Thursday of each month at 11:00 (AM, you silly thing!) at Life United Methodist Church near Mary Lou Retton Drive in Fairmont, WV.
I will do my best to make sure we have coffee and treats.
You make sure you join us.
Bring your knitting if you are so inclined!:)