Knit one, purl two, screw it

I am not a dextrous individual.

If I were a Dungeons & Dragons character, my Dexterity would be like 7. (My Constitution would be like 5 and my Strength somewhere in the 6 region, so hey.)

But regardless of the strikes against me–my nearsightedness, my lack of muscle memory, my general fumble-fingeredness–I decided that I would learn to knit anyway. Largely because of the lovely stuff that I’ve seen created by talented people like Magpie Ima; less largely because of my love for, er, novelty socks (greatest thing about them: they don’t need to match! One argyle can be successfully paired with another!).

So anyway, I signed up for a learn-to-knit class at The Naked Sheep (just a hop, skip and a jump down Killingsworth from us! How I love living in a real neighborhood in a real city!). Went to the first class. Mastered casting on totally fast. I’m a casting-on demon. Watch out! Then we got to the actual making-a-knit-stitch part, and, er, yeah, well, that was pretty much it.

Teacher: OK, we’re going to knit another row of 20 stitches.
Me: Um…
Teacher (patiently): Yes?
Me: Um… what did I do wrong here?
Teacher (holding up my sad droopy bit of quasi-knittedness): …Hmmm. I’m not actually sure. It looks like you dropped a stitch… oh, and you got the tail knitted up in here somehow… and… wow, I really don’t know what’s going on with this part. Let me just take this last row out and knit it up for you real quick…
Me (looking around shamefacedly at my classmates, who include two cloth-diapering earth mamas, a sergeant from the sheriff’s department and a TEN-YEAR-OLD, all of whom are knitting frickin’ circles around me): *sigh*

So I went home and I practiced. Reader, I practiced. I cast on like a madwoman. I knitted a mean row. I realized I had screwed up and unraveled the row and cast it on again (love that part!) and knitted some more. And by the end of the week, when it was time to meet again, I had finished knitting…

…almost two whole rows. And there was a problem in the first row where I’d done some sort of messed-up manglifying thing, the nature of which was wholly opaque to me.

But I proudly brought my bit of bright orange knitting with me, figuring at least it was something.

Only to discover that, since last we met, my classmates had each produced like seventeen yards of perfectly knitted swatchiness. Mine was a miserable failure. Miserable! And I’d probably spent more time on it than had anyone else!

I spent the next two hours learning how to purl (it’s like knitting, but backwards and therefore theoretically harder, but for me it somehow seemed a little easier). I purled for like twenty minutes, slowly and not well, but making progress regardless. And then–alas!–I reached the end of the row and discovered I’d made yet another in a series of massive screwups requiring rescue by a trained professional.

By this time, I think my ineptitude was starting to get on the trained professional’s nerves.

Anyway, we left last week with homework: knitting twenty (!) rows in a variety of knit-purl patterns. I had every intention of knitting for half an hour a day so as to produce some fine-quality knitting to show off, but one thing led to another and it was pretty generally a hell of a week, so naturally, this afternoon found me sitting in my comfy chair by the window trying to whip out my assignment before the start of class in an hour and a half.

I cast on. Man! I am good at casting on! I can cast on like nobody’s business!

I knitted a row. All well and good. Until something happened with the last stitch–always with the last stitch!–and I ended up having to take out all my stitches and do the whole thing again.

I knitted a row again. I counted quietly to myself.

Fisher and Rhys came into the room and started hurling Legos at each others’ heads.

I lost count. I dropped a stitch, or maybe seven. I swore. I think I may have gotten a little teary.

And then I thought to myself: "Self, why do you torture yourself in this way? Why do you insist on adding yet another thing to the ever-growing list of things in your life at which you are no good?* Why must you scribe another line in your litany of failure?"

And then I thought: "Well, I guess there’s no good reason to. Screw it. I’m staying home and having a glass of wine."

And that, Reader, is what I did. Let’s raise a glass to the failed knitters among us… bottoms up!

*to wit: parenting, keeping the bathroom clean, remembering to scoop the catbox, turning in work before the deadline, remembering to call/e-mail people when I say I will, gardening, drawing, washing the sheets faithfully every Tuesday, maintaining a consistent program of homeschoolized curriculum, sticking to a reasonable & prudent number of drinks, keeping my office tidy, exercising faithfully, avoiding overeating, sending birthday cards on time, marketing my business to new potential customers, speaking in a kindly fashion to my children and other people, sewing on buttons, sticking to a budget, unpacking my suitcase right when I get home from a trip, filling out financial forms, writing 1000 words a day, ensuring my children complete their class assignments on time, displaying a cheerful attitude, spelling "curiosity" correctly on the first try

About Molly Newman

Writer, cook and trivia/spelling bee hostess, living it up in North Portland.
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11 Responses to Knit one, purl two, screw it

  1. Amy Sorensen says:

    Hey. I am impressed that you tried! I’m such a knitting failure that I’ve never even tried it. I do have fairly painful memories of trying to crochet…I’m definitely yarn-scarred.
    And who needs sewed-on buttons anyway??? 😉

  2. Mimi says:

    I would have the exact same experience.

  3. Stephanie T. says:

    My name is Stephanie….And I’m a knitter.
    I’ve never gotten past knit, purl and excessively long scarves, but I do it anyway.
    I’m not a cool knitter…I suck at it. But… one day…oh yes…one day…I’ll learn how to knit with substance! Alas…jack of all trades, master of none.
    (this includes balancing a check-book)

  4. Melissa says:

    Don’t give up! It’s frustrating to learn (especially as an adult) but really there’s only two stitches (knit and purl) and you can do almost anything. Don’t worry about the drops…just call it freeform knitting…

  5. Magpie Ima says:

    You’re not a failed knitter, you’re just not very good yet 😉
    Everything you are describing is perfectly normal, especially that bit about the last stitch, which you should have had explained to you. The first few weeks of knitting is supposed to be awful. You should have been warned about that, too.
    I would be more than happy to teach you. I can teach just about anyone, remember, even people with whom I share no common language. You’ll be a snap. Just let me know when.

  6. Summer says:

    Sometimes, this is seriously my most favorite bit of reading before I hit the hay.
    ( Yes, I did say Hit the Hay. )
    Also I’m drunk too.

  7. Lori V. says:

    HAHAHAHAHA… I had this ridiculous notion of learning to knit, too… thanks for setting me straight.
    I can, however rudimentarily, crochet. (Our yarn shop in Dallas is Woolie Ewe, as opposed to your Naked Sheep! LOL!)
    (Blogiversary giveaway today… be there or be square! ‘Course, you don’t have a dog, but… well, just show up anyway for cute photos!)

  8. Helena says:

    I occasionally ponder the idea of learning to knit, just because all the cool patterns are for knitting (crocheting is too bulky for svelte sweaters). Maybe I’ll get around to it one of these years.

  9. azureavian says:

    i am good at fancy stitching. excellent at cross-stitch. i can’t follow a clothing pattern to save my life. my mother has been trying to teach me knitting and crochet since i was 8years old. i picked up crochet when i was prenant with Madelenn, and i can now do a mean granny square, but i can’t piece them together into anything and i can’t make anything else. i don’t plan on trying to learn to knit anytime real soon (maybe i’ll be sufficiently motivated when my grandchildren come along). learning is a journey and all that. =)

  10. Lynn says:

    //And then I thought to myself: “Self, why do you torture yourself in this way?//
    ROFL. That’s exactly how I feel about sewing!

  11. Elf says:

    I’m aghast. You, Knitting? I’d poke some fun, but I’m too stunned to make a quip. I think I’m going to check the temperature in Hell really fast.

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