Friday, March 29, 2013

Why We Knit

Why We Knit
            So I spend a crazy amount of time knitting.  If I go to the dentist – I take my knitting.  If I’m watching TV – I’m knitting.  When I go visit the grandkids – I take my knitting.  Basically, if I’m not working or sleeping – I’m knitting.  So one must ask the question – WHY?

            There are lots of reasons that come to mind.  I knit to relax.  I knit because I can.  I knit because I like it.  But what’s so relaxing about poking a needle through a loop of yarn, wrapping a new piece of yarn around the end and pulling it back through the loop – over and over and over.  I had to do this over 50,000 times for the last baby blanket I made.

            So why do we knit?  I love yarn and wool.  I like making things out of just a ball of string.  There’s a satisfaction that comes when you finish the last bind off and the project drops into your lap.  I love to see lace pop open when I block it.  Is that reason enough to spend countless hours knitting?

            I may find some really cool yarn that would be perfect for a pair of socks.  It may cost $20.  I could spend over 20 hours knitting this into a beautiful pair of knee high socks every bit as nice as something that would cost $2.99 at Walmart.  Go to ETSY and look at beautiful hand knit shawls selling for $80.   When you take away the price of the yarn this could not be more than $1 an hour.  So – we don’t knit for economy.  We don’t knit to provide clothing.  That could be accomplished much cheaper and easier at any box store.

            Do we knit for ourselves?  OK – we do.  When I go to meetings with knitters many of us wear our knitting.  I have made myself a sweater, a scarf, a pair of black socks and a pair of white socks.  That’s 4 items.  I’ve made hundreds of knitted items.  Many hundreds. 

            So, the simple answer must be we knit for others.  We knit for the joy of giving something that can’t be bought.  I once made 5 dolls at the same time for some of my granddaughters for Christmas.  They turned out beautiful so I took one to work to show off.  Several of the ladies there really liked them and asked what I would charge to make one for them.  I told them that the dolls took about 20 hours each and had about $10 worth of yarn, so at $10 an hour, I would be happy to make them one for $210.  Of course I make much more than $10 an hour, but I told them that for a co-worker, I would be willing to work for that price.  They looked at me like I was crazy.  But the worth of the dolls is much more than $210 to me.  Everytime I see one of my granddaughters drag her doll around I get a payment.  I have a foster daughter who was recently divorced.  Even though I never see her children, I hope my doll sitting on their bed makes them realize they are loved.

            I like to see baby blankets and toys worn out.  One of my granddaugters has drug her blanket through everything.  I’ve tried to patch it, but some of the areas are so thin there’s nothing to darn.  Still she takes it with her everywhere.  I’m constantly running a doll repair shop for worn out dolls and other knitted animals.

            I have a rocket scientist son-in-law.  He’s a bigger nerd than I am.  He’s a huge Dr Who fan so for Christmas I sent his family some scarfs.  They live far away so my daughter taped them opening our presents.  It was fun to see his eyes light up as each of his boys unwrapped a 2/3rds scale Dr Who scarf.  He was playing with the scarfs and telling the boys he would have to borrow one to take to work.  Then it was great to see him open his own package to discover I had made him a full sized one.  Later in the video they can all be seen running around playing with their toys.  The boys have their scarfs on and the 2 year old Kaitlyn has her little alpaca shawl draped over her head.  In the back is my Son in law with his scarf on.

            If you google charity knitting, or search for charity groups on ravelry you will be surprised at the number of different projects going on.  There’s a general group called Charity Knitters that has over 4000 members.  There are hundreds of other charity groups.  You want to make Afghans for Afghans – there’s a group.   I’ve participated in several.  My favorite is knitting blankets and burial clothing for premee babies that don’t make it.  I can’t imagine the sorrow that a parent must go through to go to the hospital just to loose a baby.  I love making beautiful lacy things that will do nothing but let some sad parent know that someone out there cares.  Another project is making leper bandages.  You take a small needle and some crochet cotton and knit bandages about 2 inches wide and 4 feet long.  Basically you’re just making an ace bandage.  I assume somewhere in a terrible place is a leper living in very sad conditions.  I can’t imagine how they feel to know that someone spent hours making a bandage for just them.

            I’m part of a knitting group here in the St Louis Area.  One of our members had a terrible house fire.  Her family got out but she has a little girl who was screaming because her “babies” were all burning in the fire.  Along with her children’s toys and things, all of her knitting was either burned or smoke damaged.  So for our next monthly meeting we decided to all donate some of our stashes and try and help rebuild her stash.  We also wanted to give something for her children.  I have one of my Annie dolls waiting for my own granddaughter but I won’t give it to her until this summer – so it was just sitting there.  I figured I could always make another one, so I threw the Annie doll in the pile.  At the next meeting we presented her with the knitting and tears were shed on both sides. 

            After she gave Annie to her little girl she could not be separated from it.  She takes it everywhere.  That night she slept with the doll.  Ever since the fire she has had nightmares of the fire and of her babies burning.  The next morning she told her mom that the doll took her nightmares away.  That is the best payment I have ever received for anything. 
Annie and her new home

            So, why do we knit – we knit to bring joy to the world.  Out of balls of string, we make happiness.  There’s no greater purpose.