:: Once, I was a knitter. I’m not anymore. The lifecycle of a knitter goes like this.
Knitting looks like fun. You’re good with your hands—you type really fast and can play the piano. Plus your best friend knits, and she agrees to teach you, and knitting is something you two can do on the couch on the weekends while you watch reruns of Nova.
The only thing you’re worried about that it’ll be too hard to pick up and you’ll end up knitting dishtowels and you don’t need dishtowels because you live in a flophouse and dine out all the time so you don’t have to do dishes.
Your friend loans you a set of bamboo needles. You buy one skein of yarn. The two of you turn on Nova.
You learn that you knit continental not English. You learn that you have a loose gauge. You learn how to read a knitting pattern, memorizing the abbreviations, like k2, p2, k2tog, yo, yo, k2tog.
Soon, you only knit with circular needles because unlike straight needles they fit in your bag and you never go anywhere without a knitting project. You used to read when you got bored; now you knit. You love going to the local craft shop to browse needles and yarn. In fact, love isn’t quite the right word to explain how much money you have spent at the local craft shop over the past six months.
You have learned to knit actual garments, and you actually wear them, and when people say, “I love that sweater! Where did you get it?” you try to smile like the Mona Lisa.
But actually you always fail at smiling and end up saying, “I knit it” and then bask in their awe, because they’re always awed that you made your sweater.
You’re getting picky. You’ve put all your old circular knitting needles into a plastic bag as you’ve replaced them (every size, from double-zero up to nine, but not above nine because who knits with a needle above nine except for a child) with fancy needles like Addi Turbos and some interchangeable needles with extra-long cables and other brands that you can only get at speciality yarn shops.
You only shop at specialty yarn shops.
You can knit entrelac left to right and then right to left without ever flipping over the fabric. You can knit jog-less stripes when doing colorwork. You can knit cables without a cable needle. You know all the magic, all the tricks.
You’ve amassed a library of knitting books. Some you buy at yarn shops, but you also browse thrift stores as well hoping for some vintage finds. Knitting is an ancient craft, you know, and you want to learn from your foremothers.
You soon have over one hundred knitting books.
And you want to share this knowledge with others, so you start a knitting blog. You give it a witty name, create a blogroll of all the knitting blogs you read, and start writing about the projects that you’re working on, your favorite yarn, and all of the things knit-bloggers blog about.
You refuse to knit socks because they go on your feet, they’ll get worn out between having to be washed all the time and GOING ON YOUR FEET, plus no one will see them because you are not a knitter who wears leather sandals in the winter time. You start to notice things like how many knitters wear leather sandals in winter time to show off their knitted socks.
You realize there are many types of knitters, and you realize you can identify them all.
Your best friend moves away. You make another friend who also knits. She joins your blog. You’re relieved because knitting alone isn’t as fun, you realize.
Knitting patterns are terrible. Who writes these things? You print them out, or photocopy them out of your books, so that you can edit them in black pen to make them right. OBVIOUSLY there need to be more decreases before the wrist cuff. Those proportions are all wrong. Seriously, who vetted these? Typos you can understand. Typos are human. Poor design is inexcusable. By the time you’re done editing the pattern, all that’s left is a hint of its former self.
You start writing your own patterns. Your first pattern is a tie-front cardigan knit using a delightful, yet complicated yarn you bought in Tokyo, because obviously when you go to Tokyo you go yarn shopping.
Because Ravelry has been invented at this point, you have a place to sell your patterns (think iTunes for knitting patterns), and you write about this pattern on your blog. You have your husband take photographs.
You model the sweater yourself. You publish the PDF. You set the price at six dollars, the going rate it seems.
And the pattern sells.
You stop knitting other peoples’ patterns altogether. You buy stitch dictionaries instead of pattern books. You study construction techniques. You study stitch techniques: Lace stitches, textured stitches, ribbed stitches. You have a wealth of knowledge to draw from for your designs.
Everything you knit is a possible pattern to write. Every stitch is an act of invention. Half of what you knit turns out terrible. Half of what you knit turns out beautiful. Isn’t that creation? In fact, isn’t .500 a pretty good batting average?
You post more patterns to sell and write about the patterns on your blog. Some you give away for free because knitting, you believe, belongs to everyone.
More patterns sell. Your husband says (oh, right—you got married), “Wouldn’t it be cool if your hobby became self-sustaining?”
You decide you want your hobby to be self-sustaining. You have to write more patterns. Right now.
You realize that there isn’t a knitting stitch that you don’t know how to knit from memory or by analyzing a piece of fabric. The fabric itself speaks to you. You are a knitter. There isn’t a knitted garment in a store that you couldn’t make yourself if you had to.
And you realize you say “had to.”
Because you no longer want to.
You no longer have any friends who knit. That first friend? She moved far away. Your second friend? You both have busy jobs, marriages, kids. Such busy lives. There’s no time to knit a thousand stitches that might turn into nothing.
Together, you post a farewell post on your knit-blog. You leave your patterns for sale, and a few sales trickle in now and then, but knitters, rightly so, are quick to move on to the latest designers, the newest bloggers. Designers who are not you.
You consider selling your needles and yarn stash online. All of the books you amassed for your library. All of it. You haven’t yet, but Marie Kondo has a point. Someone else will find joy in the things you are holding onto, and that someone isn’t you.
You will always be someone who can knit. But you are no longer a knitter.