I love that the Internet connects me to information and to people. With this tool I have been able to make friends and learn from others in limitless locations.
Several months ago, I was invited by a friend to join a knitting group on Facebook. It has been fun to celebrate others and the projects they are working on. It is also enjoyable to witness the support given to a member when they have a yarn dilemma.
The talent and skill that is posted amazes me.
One example is my new friend Amanda. This week she just welcomed her fourth baby into the world.
While awaiting his arrival, Amanda kept her knitting needles busy. She could not resist the numberless patterns available and squishy soft natural fiber yarns that would compliment a sweet newborn and then chubby cheeked babe that would be filling her life with even greater joy and purpose than she already had.
Creating an all “Mama-made” wardrobe for her little bundle of joy became a thrill-filled obsessive goal that often kept her up at night. I can hear her thoughts now “…must finish this last (yawn) leg…”. (not because I have ever knit well into the night….not me..)
An interview about Amanda’s journey and other thoughts on knitting follows:
How long have you been knitter and how did you learn?
I have only been knitting for a little over a year (since October of 2014). There was a ministry offered at the church where I was attending where a few of the older ladies got together twice a month to knit hats and scarves for the homeless in our city. I went to check it out, as I had always wanted to learn to knit. They taught me how to cast on, knit and purl stitches…the rest is all youtube! I have made a whole file on youtube videos for each of the stitches and methods I’ve used in projects along the way.
Did you find the skill of knitting to come easily, or was it something you had to work at?
I had tried to learn how to knit and crochet before and it was always so frustrating and I never seemed to get good at it. This time though, it to ally clicked, and I haven’t been able to stop!
What was it about this time around that made it “click”, was it that you were being mentored by the ladies at church or something else?
Honestly I’m not really sure…maybe my patience level has gone up since I had tried before? This time I didn’t seem to get as lost with patterns, and I think having access to youtube with video tutorials really has helped me to figure out more complicated stitches/instructions.
How did you decide that you wanted to make a wardrobe for baby #4? What was your first project?
My very first project was a pair of longies, after that, I fell in love with the idea of minimizing “normal” purchased clothes, (we only have a few shirts and sleepers for this baby). I really loved the idea of an almost entirely mama-made wardrobe, that was custom designed just for him. I want to take each outfit and make sure it was made lovingly, and really want him to enjoy seeing pictures later of all the things that were made just to make him special (even though 4th babies get many hand-me-downs). It has really been a labor of love and a skill which is a passion…borderline addiction!
What does your family and friends think of your knitting “addiction”? Have they been supportive in your quest to provide a “mama-made wardrobe”?
My family probably thinks I’m a little insane, but they love seeing all the new things I make. My friends are very supportive, and after I make things, many of them request stuff for their little ones too.
Where have you gotten most of your inspirations for projects, and how do you choose the pattern to use?
All of my patterns come from Ravelry...I’m a bit addicted to looking through their patterns..you click on one thing, then three more things I NEED to make pop up….then I click on some more…then its 2am and I have a list of 25 projects. I also love to ask the moms in our knitting group which patterns have worked for them and what they love, it makes it a lot easier to do a pattern when someone else has already tried it an had it work for them.
What is your favorite part of the craft: the challenge of a new pattern, the knitting process, or the completion of a project?
Hmmmm that’s a really tough one…I think I have two favorite parts…I really really love picking out the yarn for a project. I love looking though all my color-ways and sold trim colors and trying to picture how it will look with any of the colors. My yarn stash is almost 100% hand dyed worsted wight wool at this point, and the epic collection makes me happy. Then I’d say my second favorite part is seeing the project finished. Seeing how all of the patterned stitches go together and create something out of a ball of string. Its kinda cool I think. The process of knitting does has its own place in my heart too though: it’s been a huge stress-reliever for me, and I used to have major anxiety attacks.
A question I get often is “how do you find the time?!” So, as a mom of soon to be four little humans, how do you find the time?
How do I find the time…whats time again??? Oh, I don’t sleep. Thats pretty much the whole answer for that one Hahaha.
How has learning to knit enriched your life?
Oh wow….that’s a tough one, knitting has totally changed my life. The biggest part being the de-stressing. Living without anxiety attacks is fabulous. It has also given me something to share with my 9yo daughter. She is my oldest and only girl, so it’s fun to have something special to do with her. She loves to knit and go to yarn stores with me. I also love been able to make handmade gifts. It truly is a dying art, so its something that I feel needs to be preserved and sure with my family and friends.
I am so happy to hear that you are knitting with your daughter! It is sad when we take time to really ponder on how knitting used to be a skill-set in every home and how far we have veered from that. In only a short amount of time following the industrial revolution, this skill dwindled. It became a hobby of grandmothers. In recent years there has been surge of interest in knit and crochet hobbies. As wonderful as it is that the craft is returning, I still fear that it is viewed as an entertaining past-time instead of the lifeskill that it should be. I myself, have only recently broke out of my “hobby-bubble” and am trying to learn important techniques such as–knitting socks and mittens. What are your thoughts on knitting as a hobby versus putting it to good us?
I’m a minimalist when it comes to “most” things. We have a very small house, and soon to be six people to accommodate. I do have a pretty large collection of yarn, but limit myself to that one storage rack that I sent you a picture of.
That being said, I think its super important to be practical with what I knit and make sure its useful, while knitting is most definitely my favorite hobby., I try and do my best to make it some that is very practical for my whole family,and always useful. I make hats, mittens, sweaters, cowls..those kinds of things, to keep the kids warm during our awesome Chicago winters.
So, you have worked hard at providing a mama-made wardrobe for this new little bundle…what will you be casting on next?
I’m never really sure what I’m going to make next. I have a list of 10-15 different patterns I hope to make at some point, and I usually look through my yarn stash and see what strikes my fancy and which pattern it would work best with. While in labor, I’ve been knitting a pair of shorties for this little dude for the summer. We are pretty set on cold weather gear until next year for all the kiddos.
Thanks for sharing with us Amanda, enjoy that sweet little human!
I love the fact that Amanda found knitting to be a portal to connect with her unborn child. That while her body worked hard creating a tiny human on the inside, her hands diligently stitched the clothes that would protect him from outside elements after entering the world.
There is something about getting ready for a baby. It’s a natural instinct that connects us with the women of our heritage. Even more so when we adopt the age-old slower way of life and handmake a layette for a new young life.
My last baby is almost 18 months old (pictured above in her preemie-sized hat), the knit projects are growing in size,
but that won’t stop me from knitting up tiny little garments and booties!
Like Amanda, my list of saved projects is always growing. (here is my Ravelry link, although, you won’t find any pictures of my completed projects…somehow I have only recently discoverd the vast pattern wonderland of Ravelry).
I am working hard at creating some youtube videos to join the ranks of other knitters with a passion to teach like those that Amanda mentioned are in her playlist. My channel has a few videos up and I would love for you to like, share and subscribe so that we can get the word out about how fun knitting is, but also that we need to be learning it as a practical art-not just as a hobby.