Ahhhh. As we bid farewell to The Year of Big Things and we welcome in 2010: The Year of Simple Pleasures, I reminded myself of one of my favorite things to do. For Christmas, Hubby and I stayed home, in DC, but Hubby ended up with some type of flu yesterday. So this was actually the perfect excuse for me to spend all day in my jammies, looking after him, ringing up a huge OnDemand bill and knitting. I'm working on a simple patchwork baby blanket for college friends of Hubby's, who are expecting their first lil one in March. There is nothing like a slow-paced day, doing exactly what you want to do to recharge for a lovely, thoughtful new year. Knitting itself is a relaxing way to create something, using your hands. Yes, this sounds fairly obvious, but how often do we make things - actual things? So often at jobs we create more documents and we don't actually build anything. Knitting offers a sense of gratification in that there is a tangible product when I am finished.
My favorite part of knitting is the planning; I adore selecting yarn. Yarn stores are so wonderful - just being inside of a yarn store awakens a sense of creativity and possibility. The walls are arranged by color, by texture, by weight. I gravitate towards burgundy yarns and natural fibers, regardless of what project I might be preparing. I love thick organic cottons and alpaca wool, yarns with a bit of cashmere, or a silky malabrigo. I am a bit of a yarn snob. I have nothing against acrylic yarn, but I don't want to work with it for long periods of time, or to wear acrylic yarns. While these are less expensive, and are needed for certain projects, I really enjoy the tactile aspect of yarn. For example, the project I am working on now is a cashmere/marino yarn. This Baby Cashmerino is a thin yarn - which means it is a lighter weight, and one ply, essentially a thin but still fluffy and springy yarn. Because I am working with my hands for a long period of time, I think the feel of the yarn is really important.
The colors I selected for this project are vibrant, in shades of purples and maroons and greys. There is a real sense of pleasure in selecting the colors to be used. Most yarn has a consistent color throughout the entire skein, but I simply adore hand-dyed yarns that have variety in the shade or color throughout the skein of yarn. I'm instantly inspired looking at the variety of colors and shades available, and how they look on differing weights and textures of yarn.
There is a lovely rhythm that occurs while you are knitting. With simple projects, you are likely repeating the same stitch, and your hands know exactly what to do. I prefer Addi metal needles, and these click in tempo as you work your yarn into a sweater, or socks, leg warmers, or hats. This rhythm is calming and peaceful, and it allows you to either concentrate on your work, or to ignore it and let your hands do what they know how to do.
While knitting is an individual activity, there is a wonderful community of people who knit. This community spans ages, and genders I am happy to say. There is nothing I like more than flying with my knitting (I love flying and knitting) and seeing a woman older than I am also carrying her knitting. It is the easiest thing in the world to strike up a conversation with other knitters. We know the code - what is the gauge? What type of yarn is that? Where did you find the pattern? do you like this yarn? And while I do see men knitting on occasion, I do enjoy that it seems to be a way to create community among women of all ages. My gramma crochets, my mother and my sister knit, and I have a few girlfriends who have taken up the needles.
While there is discussion that it is a feminist activity - its a way to take back traditionally feminine actions - I find that I don't need to go into Madame Defarge territory to enjoy knitting. This simple, old fashioned activity is one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon, a plane ride, or even to pass the time at a coffee shop or riding the metro. Knitting is my simple pleasure.