These items I’ve chosen are far from the most skillful or useful products I’ve ever made, but they do remind me of the role that friends and family have played in developing and refining my knitting skills.
I was looking for something else entirely when I came across Sarah, my favourite toy from childhood. Sarah is still wearing a knitted cape (now perished and falling apart) I made when I was probably nine or ten, which is probably the one of the first things I ever knitted. I don’t remember what started it, but my sister tells me when we found out we were going to learn knitting at school we both dashed home to find out how (so we would get it right when it counted). Now days if you need to find out how to do a certain stitch or technique you can just ask the internet, but back in the old days you had to find someone who knew. Mum knew how to cast on and the basic technique, which was enough to get us going. When it came to casting off, she had no idea, but Dad came to the rescue, dredging the technique from the dim, distant reaches of his memory and his own childhood adventures in knitting.
I came back to knitting when I was in my 20s, and eventually one of my friends decided it was time I graduated from garter stitch scarves in questionable yarn (shout out to Feathers) and intervened by giving me a pattern book of knitted dinosaurs. While making what turned out to be a naive and somewhat challenged t-rex named Timofee, I realised I didn’t know how to increase purl-wise, and this time it was my brother’s mother-in-law who came to the rescue.
Now if I encounter an abbreviation or technique there is no shortage of help to be found online – knitting and crocheting has long since ceased to be the realm of nannas sitting in a rocking chair by the fire. Particularly on Ravelry, the sense of people coming together to share ideas, admire each other’s projects, learn from past fails, and get excited about their own projects is an extension of the sense of craft community that used to be restricted to real life friends and family.