“You could knit a sweater by the fireside… Sunday mornings go for a ride.” — The Beatles, “When I’m Sixty-Four.”
by Denise Dykstra
I began knitting by accident.
My friend Naomi knitted. She can uncannily be having a conversation with you, looking you fully in your eyes, and her fingers will be flying as she knits. It was a bit unnerving, since whenever we were together she was knitting, I asked her how she does that — knit so quickly and effortlessly.
Naomi took that conversation and ran with it. She showed up at my door one sunny January Sunday in 2017, and handed me my first knitting needles, along with a ball of yarn
“Here, I think you’ll love knitting. I can’t stay, we are headed out…” she said.
I waved to her husband and boys parked on the side of the street.
“We leave tomorrow, but you can YouTube how to start, you can call me, and you’ll love knitting!” Noami assured me.
At the time, she and her husband, along with their two boys, were traveling across the country for her husband’s work. They all lived together, in basically a tiny house on wheels. It was a huge semi-tractor and they all lived in it for three weeks on the road, then about a week home at their house and then they went back on the road. When she handed me the knitting supplies I said, “Wait, these are not sticks they are….”
“Knitting needles,” she nodded with me, urging me to remember. “And this is not string, it’s… yarn,” she answered.
And then she left for that three-week trip and I found myself looking up on YouTube, “How to begin knitting for someone who knows nothing.” I could not for the life of me figure it out.
My third son grabbed the needles and yarn and got me started. He had heard me play that video over, and over, and over, so many times that he had it memorized. Even though he had not watched it, he could quickly do the work to get me started.
It wasn’t looking promising for me to become a knitter.
I just kept working at it, and when I had the yarn used up, I unraveled it and began knitting it again. When Naomi made it home, she laughed until tears came to her eyes because she was impressed I had knitted to the very end of the yarn. I hadn’t figured out casting off yet.
Christine, whom I have introduced you to before with HD Soaps, gave me some yarn she had at her home and a large set of needles. She suggested I make a scarf. I did and when I finished it, I think I found a way to wear it every day for over a week and I may have even slept in it. I was so excited with myself.
I then decided to make a dishcloth. Let me just say this, a cloth to wash dishes can be used no matter how it turns out.
Undaunted, I bought a box of yarn from Facebook Marketplace. I basically felt like I was winning the lottery when the pending sale fell through, and I was the proud owner of the yarn this woman did not want any more — from her own yarn stash. I think my excitement wore off on her because she was basically cheering for me when she informed me it was mine. As it turned out, my husband happened to have gone to school with the woman who was selling the yarn, and I was so appreciative of my husband braving the snow, so I could have enough yarn to knit him a hat.
Looking back at that hat, I see all the flaws, and my husband has never worn it. But that hat made me feel pretty sure that I was close to having knitting mastered, so I decided to make a sweater.
Naomi, bless her, found me a pattern. She helped me over the phone find the yarn, as I stood in the middle of Hobby Lobby, feeling very lost with all the yarn choices. She then knittted the same sweater pattern with me. While she was on the road, in her semi-truck house, she would knit to get ahead of me and then she would come over on her week home to help me fix all of my mistakes (I lost count how many times I had to have taken out) and get me going again.
In the end, we had our pictures taken together in our sweaters (photo at left below) and even made a YouTube video about it.
I worked on some projects here and there, such as a temperature blanket for the 2019 year. I found that knitting soothed me, and I enjoyed watching the projects come together.
When the quarantine hit back in 2020, I picked up my knitting needles and found I could not knit. I knew what to do, and yet, my brain and fingers could not seem to communicate. I went through a time of basically mourning knitting because I missed it so much.
In many ways, I had to relearn all I had learned prior, which was harder because I knew I should be able to do it, I just could not. I spent a summer knitting a scarf while I watched my youngest two boys fish. It was the most basic scarf, it took me forever to finish it, but the pride I felt when it was done was much deeper than any project I had completed before.
I have been picking up my knitting needles more often again. I have been working my brain thinking through projects, and I am hoping to soon pick up the large projects I have had to set aside for so long, because my brain just could not figure them out.
Knitting is soothing and fun again–for the first time in a very long time. My husband snapped a photo of me at South Haven a few weeks ago, and seeing the scarf I worked so hard to finish that summer, with the hat I had made just days before this South Haven trip, swelled my heart with joy! It was good to see me smiling again with my finished knitting projects.
I guess Naomi was right after all.
Do you have something you never dreamed you would do but find yourself enjoying it immensely? Or have you had to relearn something you once loved to do? I can’t wait to hear your stories!