Over the years, I have often thought about learning a new craft, usually after getting a sense of envy when I see others’ finished projects.
As a child I seemed to be more artistic and crafty than now as an adult. My parents had to put up with an art gallery of my works on the wall (thanks to children’s TV presenter Tony Hart for that idea!) Yet as an adult, my drawing skills are the same as when I was 9 years old. And my craft skills blatantly show off my lack of spatial awareness and coordination!
Once on holiday, there was an origami class. I started well with the paper folding but at some point (fairly early on) I got very confused and the paper just looked a terrible mess rather than the beautiful swan it was supposed to end up as. A willow weaving workshop was more of a success. I ended up with handmade willow bird feeders and coaster, but a small child still put me to shame with her skills and ease at a time when I was puzzling about what the next step in the process was.
Despite these experiences, I still had that yearning to craft, to make, to learn a new skill. Lockdown seemed a good point to start too. I didn’t wish the time away but a project to help pass it until things got back to normal felt a good idea.
I already had a knitting project waiting for me. When I visited Masham a few years ago, there was a sheep fair and I bought two knitting packs, one I gave to my goddaughter (a knitted toy sheep), the other I kept for a rainy day (fingerless gloves). Had the rainy day arrived?
But when I read the instructions, it seemed double Dutch to me, a foreign language. So after a chat with my mum (an accomplished knitter herself), she gave me a small ball of wool, knitting needles, cast the first row, and showed me how to knit. I had learnt to knit as a child but all I had learnt had vanished from my brain so I needed this refresher and practice.
Up, through, over, under…. Something like that anyway. I lost stitches, holes were formed where they should not have been formed, the piece I was knitting for practice was looking more and more unshaped by the minute. I had to keep asking Mum for advice. My mum talked of purling, casting on and off… She went back to knitting a jumper via a complicated looking pattern which made my original glove project look like it was aimed for primary school children.
I got to the end of the ball. At which point, Mum took back a row of my piece and then cast off. I could have carried on and turned it into a scarf but this was my practising project. It now sits under a water jug in my living room.
Now to my second project – a scarf. I still don’t know how to cast on or off or how to purl. But the actual act of knitting is becoming more and more natural to me. I may never become a wonderful knitter but it doesn’t matter. I enjoy it and I see what people mean when they say it’s highly relaxing. It makes me think of being mindful and ‘living in the moment’. And now back to the process – up, through, over….