For as long as I can remember using my hands, I remember using my hands to make things. As a small child my hands were mostly used make trouble. Attempts at sewing designs into my clothes that usually resulted in a tangled mess, using chopsticks and a completed sweater to mock the knitting i saw on tv and in movies, ripping sheets when trying to pin them up and make tents that seemed so elaborate to my small mind. It seemed like an internal drive to craft. The fire was fueled by some of my supportive family members as well.
The earliest full memory of truly creating something (and that something turning out as intended) was with my Grandmother, a.k.a. Nanna. I feel like I was 7 or 8, but couldn’t tell you my exact age. I was over at her apartment and she had laid out some old pantyhose, a sewing needle, some thread, stuffing, a basket, tissue paper and a magazine with a step by step for creating something truly country cottage chic.. Which is the nice way of saying “something only a grandma would want”. She said we were going to make potatoes.
It was in that moment i thought either my Nanna was a witch capable of turning panhythose into potatoes, or we were going to make something really cool. She showed me how we were to cut the pantyhose into short tubes. We sewed up one end of each tube, stuffed em from the open end and then sewed that up. We tacked the ruffled candy-wrapper-esque ends to the underside of each tan lump. After assembling a few lumps she explained that our potatoes were blind, so it was time to give ’em some eyes. We took a threaded needle and ran it through various parts of each tan lump, pulling it tight and creating what resembled the natural tucked eyes one might find on a Yukon Gold potato. All of our potatoes now had eyes. We then stitched the potatoes together in a mass, filled the bucket with crumpled tissue paper and topped it with the actually pretty good looking pile of taters.
2 things were made that day. A decorative basket of taters that would grace my Nanna’s kitchen until the day she died, and a craft obsessed child who realized they are actually capable of making something worthwhile.
I can remember getting sewing machines for christmas presents as a kid from my Nanna and Mom. Although i never had any formal sewing training, i grew up always knowing how to sew. It wasn’t until I was a broke college student that I learned how to knit. My Aunt taught me how to crochet when i was very little but it never really stuck with me. I learned to knit as a means to make cheap but meaningful christmas gifts for my family. Boy if only i knew then that knitting would eventually become my most expensive hobby.
I am one to do lots of research before deciding to invest in something. So to be sure i would like knitting i actually tried it out with toothpicks and thread… because thats what i had available to me… and I was NOT going to buy needles and thread and patterns and books if I wasn’t even going to like the activity! I promise i am a sane person…
First attempt at knitting: 2010
Over the years i really liked knitting, but didn’t truly fall in love with it until the first time I knit a sock. You’d think since i started on toothpicks that sock knitting would come natural to me, but at first I mostly did hats and instant gratification knits on size 10 needles. I learned how to use double pointed needles for doing things like fingerless gloves and to close hats, but it was really and truly sock yarn that won me over. I loved how light it felt and that it could be used to make anything from hats to shawls to, well, socks.
Then of course one day i saw somebody spinning yarn and was like “Oh yeah. I gotta get in on that”. So, being the person that i am.. my first trials with spinning were on a wheel that i built for $30. Dodec building plan By BishopofKnit on Ravelry.
Judge not… Its name is “Loki”
At an antiques fair i found these old bobbins and worked out an exchange system so I didn’t have to remove the ENTIRE upper part to ply.
Then I eventually upgraded to a new wheel altogether (Kromski Minstrel) after i felt like i progressed enough, and was able to churn out some nice handspun
Yes, i hang my project bags for current projects on the distaff. I know it is a princess wheel, but in my house even princesses have to work!
So that’s my craft history, or at least the abbreviated version. For those of you who are curious: When my Nanna passed we went to her apartment to divide her assets amongst the family. I had cousins fighting over headboards and tables. In a surreal haze I looked around the room at all of the pictures of me and my brothers my nanna held onto. I looked at the wall art of a pig in boots with a shawl that had wooden spoons dangling from it. I saw her decorated mason jars with their doilie tops. I looked at the wooden door mice she had mounted above her door frame and stuffed rabbits she had in toddler sized rocking chairs. I noticed all of these things and thought of every memory i had in her kitchen, at her table, in front of the tv watching old movies. Then I looked to the top of the fridge. Right there, where they had always been, were those taters. They were the only thing i had interest in leaving with, and if anybody attempted to throw them away i was prepared to fight. I left with those taters that day and have proudly displayed them in my kitchen ever since. They are a little dusty now, but still smell like her apartment.