Monday, September 14, 2009

A Glimpse Into the Mind of a Knitting Lunatic

My brother Bill emailed today, and said he had watched some of my machine knitting lesson videos. Bill has his own interesting hobbies, in particular, woodworking. Our emails sparked my thinking about why I am so crazy for such an obscure hobby.

I've always loved textiles. In my case, clearly, I adore the colors, textures and fashion designs. I also hand knit, sew, crochet, needlepoint, make rugs, quilt - you name it. I do it all fairly well because of my great enjoyment of fiber arts and my love of solving each interesting puzzle. I owned a yarn shop for eight years from 1978-1986, which I sold when our older son was little. As a shop owner, I learned continuously. The customers taught me, and I learned by doing research to answer customer questions and solve problems.

I do more machine knitting than other needlework because I'm a busy mom. I mean BUSY, ridiculously willing to bite off more than I can chew. My time checkers never cover the whole board! I have always had all kinds of projects and volunteer passions, and as I've mentioned in the blog, I am a Certified Public Accountant (a designation I earned in my 40s) and work full-time as a non-profit controller.

Machine knitting is fascinating, and because it is so fast, you can experiment, rip and redo, design your own thing, aiming for exactly what you want.

It could be lonesome having a hobby that not many people have, but I found a group, and I hope you can, too, plus there are great communities on the internet. And isn't it just a little intriguing to do something not everybody knows how to do? We don't have a secret handshake; we ask people if we can turn their sweater edges inside out and see how they did it.

The things you can make are terrific! I make incredible soft, warm socks on an antique circular sock machine and John and I rehabbed, and people love to receive them as gifts. I like making baby blankets with the new baby's name knitted into the center on my garter carriage. I make lace shawls, tops for the office, sparkly things for evening, tote bags, pillows, afghans, whatever I please, and I manage it within the little bits of time I can find in the corners of my life. It might take me a month to do a project, but if I were handknitting, that might be several months.

Most clothes don't fit me correctly, and they never have, no matter what I weigh, even though I am an average height. A big epiphany occurred when I was watching What Not to Wear and discovered that most other women feel the same way! I thought it was just me, but I hear these other ladies saying that clothes don't fit them in some of the same ways they don't fit me.

With the knitting machine, I can fit myself. I will be doing some lessons on the KnitLeader. I have my body block drawn on the mylar sheet, and as long as I do the steps, I get one garment after another to fit. I get the length, width, shoulders and neck I want. If something isn't right, I can always rip, or just start over. I have my shape patterns in DAK, too.

It's great fun to knit gifts, but it's also very gratifying if you decide to knit for charity. You could never get the same volume of "good stuff" done if you were handknitting or even crocheting. Some of my friends knit because they know that all around us, there are people in need. Austin has a mild climate, but for us, coming from Southern California, we were surprised at the winter cold. When we first moved here, I recall driving on a blustery winter day and seeing a little boy who had no jacket, just a T-shirt and jeans. He had pulled his arms inside the T-shirt and was hugging himself to keep warm. Well, maybe he forgot his jacket, or maybe he didn't have one. The Junior League in Austin collects and gives away a massive number of children's jackets every year, and I've got a friend who actually knitted hundreds of stocking caps each year for several years, along with other knitters, so the kids could have a warm hat as well. I've got another friend, an older lady with a very modest lifestyle, who knits dozens of preemie hats. Premature babies have problems with body temperature, and the hospitals have discovered that hats help with that. I know another lady who knits garments for little preemies to be buried in; it's very sad, but those parents know that somebody cared about them and and made something lovely, new, and personal for their little one.

Machine knitting can also be very economical. At least, that's true if you are a normal person and not continually collecting equipment as I have. (Surely it's my husband John's fault, as he has always indulged me with knitting machines. When I got a yen for a Passap E6, he watched for one for me, and we drove all the way to Morgan City, Louisiana to pick it up.) Once you have your basic rig, yarn isn't very expensive compared to its entertainment value and its value made up.


  1. Thank you for all the videos you are making. I am completely new to machine knitting and have no group of local people near me to help out. Your videos are proving to be a wonderful resource of help.

  2. Thank you so much for these videos,,you are like an answer to my prayers...I am new to machine knitting and there is not one near me to show me things either what a blessing to have found this site. Thank you

  3. I am looking forward to your knitleader series. All of your videos have helped so much. Like you, I am an impossible-to-fit size and I would like very much to be able to knit something that doesn't look like I'm wearing my father's sweater.

  4. Amen, sister! The clothing manufacturers have to use some sort of standard size, but God is more creative than that. Just about everybody is longer, shorter, bustier, hippier, straighter, crookeder, or something, than the standard sizes. It's not a bad thing if you are not an off-the-rack person! If you want your clothes to make you look GREAT, then they need to fit well, and that means doing some custom work for almost any body.