Is there a Hallmark card for that?

Based on numerous emails from yarn vendors flowing into my inbox, I have learned that today, October 12, is I Love Yarn Day.

Well, I can get behind that.

Mind you, I am pretty proud of my fiber stash which now numbers well over 150 skeins of luxury yarns just waiting for me to knit them into scarves, hats, sweaters, shawls and my new obsession, socks. These merino, silk and cashmere blend beauties are a testament to the convenience of online shopping, many of them coming across the pond from yarn artists in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany.

The good ol’ USA is also well represented as I am on a first-name basis with indie dyers coast to coast.

I love the creative possibilities of a new skein of yarn, and my history with knitting goes back a ways.

I first learned the technique more than 30 years ago from a wonderful teacher born and raised in the English countryside. Beryl was patient as I struggled to wrap thick worsted-weight wool around needles the size of preschoolers’ crayons. But what I remember most about her is the English shortbread she served me and my classmates every week after we completed our lesson. Consisting solely of butter, flour and sugar, and baked to a perfect golden brown, it was a fine reward for knitting the number of rows she required of us between lessons.

Several years later, I was schooled in the true art of knitting by Sally, a robust and strong-willed German woman who could knit at the speed of sound. She insisted her students knit in the Continental style, more difficult to learn but resulting in more even tension, and if one practiced enough, her lightning speed. I credit Sally with my ability to knit projects I am proud to wear and gift to friends.

I enjoyed knitting for the first several years after my daughter was born. But I failed to continue much past that as by then I was a single mother and working more hours than I cared to in order to pay for rent, groceries and daycare.

Fast forward about 20 years. During a visit to Taos, New Mexico, I walked into a yarn shop located next to my favorite bookstore and lost myself again in the love of fiber. I had a delightful conversation with the shop owner, who, like me, had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. She had found the art a useful and pleasant way to maintain mobility in her hands, and suggested I give it another try. I walked out  that day with the beginnings of my now enviable yarn stash, including a silver-green silk yarn from the Bay area that fondly reminds me of the sagebrush that dots the landscape outside Taos.

Lest you think knitting is only for old dowdy arthritic women, you may be surprised to learn it is the fastest growing hobby among females in their 20s and 30s.  More than 38 million consumers enjoy the craft including Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, Sarah Jessica Parker, Daryl Hannah and Hilary Swank. Ravelry, an online fiber arts community of which I am a member, boasts more than 2 million users worldwide.

Simply put, I love knitting. It appeals to me on so many levels and over the past several years has become a source of pride and pleasure. I find it remarkable, especially with the hours I have spent – and continue to spend – on a computer keyboard, that my hands are also capable of creating these beautiful fabrics. And all by tying intricate knots using what essentially is a pair of sticks.

Knitting is rhythmic and mathematical. The lace patterns of which I am so fond require symmetry and careful calculation. And it’s cumulative. While I try to knit several hours each day, even when I have only five or 10 minutes, I can make progress. Each stitch is valuable and contributes to the whole. And it’s rewarding for me to see that progress, finish my project and plan the next one. My hope is that I can continue to use my hands and my mind to knit as long as I draw breath.

In honor of I Love Yarn Day, yesterday I pulled out one of the skeins I had bought and wound before leaving for this trip. The lovely merino-nylon blend from The Woolen Rabbit, one of my favorite vendors, whispered in my ear that it wanted to be socks. So with that, I cast on my latest project. I think the gold colorway, aptly named “Oakmoss,” is perfect for late fall. (What you see here is the cuff and the beginning of the leg.)

As one of my goals in writing this blog was to create a place where I could capture and share info about my knitting, I’ll likely provide a project update or two. Meanwhile, if you would like to know more about the craft or how to get started, let me know as I have made acquaintance with more than a few knitting instructors (and …. ahem, more than a few yarn vendors.)

 

6 Comments

  1. Tammy
    Oct 12, 2012

    Janie, I had no idea that it’s yarn day and I don’t do yarn arts but am totally intrigued that there are now CSA programs for fiber. One blogger, AZ Knitter, wrote about it some time back.

  2. Janie
    Oct 13, 2012

    Tammy – thanks for mentioning AZ Knitter and the CSA programs. I will check those out. I know Practical Arts features items made by local knitters. It’s on my list to explore that more when we return to Phoenix.

  3. Colleen
    Oct 24, 2012

    While on the Iowa part of my vacation, I went to the Heartland Fiber Co. in Winterset, Ia. That store has your name written all over it! Walls lined with nothing but yarn and thread.

    Wait until you see the teal and burgundy Peruvian yarn I bought. It is so soft and the colors are so rich. I can’t wait to grab my crochet hook and start working it.

  4. Janie
    Oct 26, 2012

    Hi Colleen – can’t wait to see your Peruvian yarn! A lot of my online knitting friends have visited Peru and they all come back with suitcases full of yarn. What are you going to make? I would love to see the Heartland Fiber Co. Sounds so awesome. I will add it to my list of “things to do in Iowa.” Don’t laugh – I have such a list for pretty much every state. Hope your vacation was marvelous. We are targeting being back in Phoenix around Nov. 10. I will give you a call for a Cheuvront’s date. Can’t wait to see your photos.

  5. Colleen
    Oct 27, 2012

    Yay for your upcoming return to the Valley! As for the yarn, I’m just going with a simple scarf pattern called Flights of Fancy (very open and lacy appearance). I bought a sweater while I was in Boston and the scarf will be a suitable accessory for it. Now, I just have to finish it AND have the temperatures drop a bit futher so I can wear both.

    And yes, I have a slew of vacation pictures. 🙂

    See you soon!

  6. Janie
    Oct 27, 2012

    Can’t wait to see your scarf – and your photos!

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