Friday, January 10, 2003

My Early Beginnings (this post is a little long today)

How did I get to be the person I am today (at least from a knitting perspective)?

100 Things About Me - Having read bloggers' lists of 100 things about them, I felt it gave me a little more insight into what kind of person they were. So I am copying all of my blogging trailblazers with a list of my own. The link to my list is in the upper left hand corner of my page. I'm happy with the list, but I did struggle some with what to include and what not to...especially when I have friends, family, coworkers and strangers who could all possibly be reading this document.

My Knit Beginnings
I recently sent an e-mail to a relatively new male knitter and in his response he asked me how I started knitting. Here is an extended version of how I responded...I thought you might be interested as well.

About 18 years ago, I was a 25 year old gay man with an amazing lack of self-esteem. I know it may seem hard to believe, but it's true. My self-esteem problem showed up mostly in my relationship which was then about 2 years old. I describe my relationship back then as like a donut, where my lover was the donut and I was the hole...without him I was nothing...he defined my world. Sick, huh?

The recognition of this as a problem was the first step in my recovery. I realized I needed a life of my own.

It's difficult for me to even remember what it was like to be such a wimp back then, so you'll have to try hard to imagine how pathetic I was as I tell you this next part. Once I decided that I needed a life of my own that wasn't fully defined by Thaddeus, I thought I'd start off small and pick a hobby that was mine and mine alone. But honestly, I had no idea what I was interested in. I knew a lot about what he was interested in, but as for me...blank slate.

So, I just made it up. I decided to teach myself to knit.

About a month prior to this little self-examination of my life, my lover and I had been at a friend's house (actually it was his parent's house, he still lived at home). His mother was a knitter/crafter/homemaker. I was looking through all her stuff...cake decorating, soap making, basket weaving, quilting, knitting, etc. Since I had been shown once how to knit by my grandmother years before, I was fascinated by the doublepointed needles in this woman's stash. My friend explained to me that they were for making socks...and I was even more amazed that a person could actually make socks. Don't ask what possessed me, but I ended up stealing that women's doublepoints and a couple of small knitting booklets that I hoped would explain how socks were made (I still have them today).

Given the background story of my friend's mother, and the blank slate, and my seemingly indiscriminate selection of knitting as my hobby, I realized I would need some yarn. Since my lover and I shared one car, and I wouldn't have dared asked to go together or leave him alone while I went, I decided to walk to an old Bradley's (kind of like K-Mart if you don't remember Bradley's) store about five miles from my apartment. I found some red acrylic, bought it and walked home.

Reading through the detailed explanation of how to cast on, knit and purl, I spent hours while my partner was at work (we had very different working schedules) teaching myself the basics of knitting. I made a very large, thick fabric sock using a worsted weight acrylic and US5 needles. My knitting was VERY tight when I started, and I was also wrapping my purl stitches the wrong way (resulting in a tighter, twisted stitch version of stockinette stitch).

The sock (quickly disposed of because big foot would have laughed at it) led me to trying other patterns in the stolen booklets (including the infamous men's underwear), and soon I was knitting incessantly (as I do today).

The decision to begin knitting and starting a hobby that was mine and mine alone really was a big turning point in my life. I don't attribute my emotional and spiritual growth, or the success of my relationship to knitting, but I definitely used knitting as the vehicle for helping me get there. Thank god I didn't get fascinated by that woman's cake decorating stash...I could just see myself as a 250 pound man putting boiled icing on a wedding cake.

Finally, as part of my "getting to know Joe" post, I'm including a picture of the first sweater I ever attempted to design myself. Don't ask me why I've never thrown this out.

The "shawl collar" is totally messed up, the v-neck is so deep you could see private parts if i wasn't wearing a t-shirt, the left and right button band are about 3" different in length, and so is the back and front, and the sleeves are tight enough to cut off circulation. But the color/pattern choice is exquisite if I do say so myself. I think I based it on a washcloth pattern