Why Do You Knit?

I’ve observed that people make knitted things for different reasons. Some people only knit socks, and some people knit the things lacking in their wardrobe. Some people only knit gifts to give away to their loved ones, because hand-made gifts are imbued with significance that store-bought gifts can never possess. It doesn’t have to be the same reason every time, of course. But then there are the people who just knit because they feel compelled to knit – maybe they like the challenge or maybe they find it soothes the mind and passes the time. They may find excuses to make the things they make, or they may knit without any pretense. When asked how their current project will ultimately be used, they may shrug their shoulders. I’ve met knitters who know with certainty that the fruits of their labors will never be used, but still they knit. Those are the process knitters.
The Yarn Monster

The yarn monster in my closet is a plastic tote stuffed with hand-made items.

I respect all the myriad reasons that knitters choose to knit, but I am a process knitter. You might say that I knit to feed the yarn monster in my closet (see photo above), and to dress up (and up and up) my patient and reliable craft room companion, Amanda (see photo below). Knitting is most pleasurable for me when I’m trying out a new technique, combining colors and textures, or constructing an object that requires visualization and takes advantage of the peculiar properties of knitted fabric. Knitting is experimental for me, and the experience of touching and observing the yarn is more important than the thing itself.  The objects I make are often incidental and frequently never completed. When someone asks me what my favorite thing to knit is, I must confess that I don’t have a favorite, but I usually say hats or shawls. It’s not because they’re the easiest to knit, though they are – it’s because I find that hats and shawls are forgiving and straightforward canvases for experiments in color and texture.
Amanda_The_Mannequin

Amanda the Mannequin

I suppose some day, when the yarn monster in my closet simply cannot eat any more knitted things, I will begin to give things away or attempt to sell them off, but that’s never been the goal for me. Why do you knit?

Tempting Fate

I’m a cautious person. Once bitten, twice shy; that sort of thing. Generally speaking, while I wouldn’t consider myself unduly superstitious, I don’t walk under ladders (dripping paint), nor do I skip saying, “Bless you” when someone sneezes (seems the polite thing to do). So when it comes to the Sweater Curse, I generally don’t mess around. You’ve probably heard of it — the idea that if you knit a sweater for your boyfriend or girlfriend before you’re married, the relationship is doomed. There’s even a Wikipedia page on it, with some statistics. Did you know, for example, that 41% of knitters think of the Sweater Curse as “a possibility that should be taken seriously”?

Jen & Dale

In another lifetime, when I lived in Boston and was a competitive ballroom dancer (fake tan and all), I did knit for a boyfriend. Not a sweater, because I lacked confidence at that point, but a long scarf in black yarn. I knit at home and on the T (Boston’s version of the subway), occasionally chasing my runaway ball of yarn down the train car, under the feet of my fellow commuters. That winter, I proudly presented it to him. The scarf was done! But, shortly thereafter, so was the relationship. (Don’t grieve for me, loyal readers. It’s really for the best.) Was it the scarf that did it, an extension of the Sweater Curse? I doubt it, but it sure didn’t help that he only wore it twice and then stuffed it in the closet.

You can imagine my trepidation, then, when I somehow found myself knitting a scarf for my current partner. I made him pick out the yarn and test it for softness against his neck, (bless his heart, he chose a gorgeous variegated green in Malabrigo Rios, which was a joy to knit) and even got him to help choose the pattern. Still, as I knit my way through the scarf, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was dooming my relationship with each stitch. Superstitious drivel, right? But… Just in case, I decided to try to outsmart the Curse by asking my guy to crochet me a hat. If the Curse was real, an exchange of items should cancel it out. And if it wasn’t real, he’d still get a lovely scarf, and my head would be warm all winter. Win-win, right?

Edited

I’m happy to say that he still wears the scarf (and the hat he made me gets compliments all the time). I’m even happier to say that we’re still together — so I didn’t ruin everything by tempting fate. Sometimes I look at men’s sweater patterns, and think about which ones would suit my guy. But then I think about the Sweater Curse, and wonder if it’s worth it. Maybe I’ll just wait.

What about you? Do you believe in the Sweater Curse? Have you experienced it firsthand?

I stand corrected

Like a thirsty cast away, adrift in a featureless ocean, will be redeemed by shouts of, “Land, ho!” I am pleased to remind myself and everyone else that there is still yarn in Bangor. And I’m not talking about the box stores, either.

originalI got a message, not in a bottle, from Jodi Clayton, the owner of One Lupin on Park Street in down town Bangor to remind me that they are still very much alive and thriving. A bright and vibrant hand dye studio, they have such a beautiful collection of yarn to choose from you might be tempted to bypass all the other wonderful things they carry. Hand printed tea towels, tie dyed hoodies, beautiful scarves and pretty things for your home. I actually have some One Lupin yarn in my stash and a beautiful hand-blown glass humming bird in my kitchen window. As they say on their About Us page…

IMG_1489“One Lupine Fiber Arts is a special blend of working fiber studio, gallery, boutique and yarn and fiber shop. We began as a fiber arts studio, creating pieces of wearable, fine and function felt art sold throughout the USA and beyond. We have grown to incorporate a fiber supply and yarn shop, complete with our our line of hand dyed and painted yarns and roving, and a gallery/boutique specializing in fine handwork made in North America. Within our walls you will find fine art, jewelry, ceramics, glass, sculpture, woodworking, apparel, accessories and more.”

12241196_1013667968655535_6536169602993000622_nI also have to admit that I didn’t know about the expansion of One Lupin’s space and collection. When I was there last, all the yarn was One Lupin branded and came from Jodi and was housed in her basement dye studio. She now carries other Maine connected yarns, fibers, tools, accessories, etc. in a renovated upstairs space full of light and color. No longer a single studio, One Lupin and Maine Yarn and Fiber Supply are an enticing side by side full service shop in a sunny and welcoming new space.

Jodi herself is an artist, a sheep lover and a fiber evangelist. Her studio and shop are beautiful and her yarns exquisite, and her warm and welcoming heart make her an angel of The Church of Yarn. I didn’t mean for a moment to discount her.

I’m going up to Bangor on other business tomorrow and will be stopping in the see the new space first hand. Anyone want to join me?