Your Sort of Knitting

There really is room in the world for many different kinds of knitters. You know that. I know that. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to understand another knitter’s position.

We had office drinks today, to celebrate or ackowledge yet another move. Yes, I’ve now moved workspaces four times in the last twelve months. I’m tired of it. Does this mean I’ve got less crap to take from one desk to another? No. Just the same crap packed up again and again. I approached the move today with all the care you might imagine after this many moves. Stuff tossed into boxes in a state of hurried abandon, just so I could get the hell out and have the afternoon at home I’m now enjoying, at the Government’s expense. Thank you very much.

We gathered in the conference room with hastily gathered snack food and an assortment of wine. Wine at midday! On a Friday! How novel. It was worth  hanging around. I decided to knit.

I’ve moved into a new team recently and lots of these people don’t know that I knit and most didn’t even notice, which as I’ve said before is just how I like it. I don’t knit amongst non-knitters for the attention. I do it because, in this instance, I’ve got acres of stocking stitch ahead of me and sitting in a sunny conference room with a drink and some chips and a bit of idle workplace chatter seems as good a time as any to knock over an inch or two while I chat.

I got a couple of comments along the lines of ‘oh look she can knit without looking’ like I was performing some kind of alchemical feat. Those are the sorts of comments that are both ok and common. I explained that it was plain knitting so no need to look and then changed the subject, handing the girl next to me the bottle of chardonnay so we could move on.

The comment that stuck with me, the kind that always causes me to stop and think about it, was this one. A woman who I don’t know because I’m new to the team, told her own knitting story. Everyone was listening.

“I don’t do your sort of knitting,” she said. “I like the kind where you can’t see the knitting.”

Can you tell what’s coming next? I bet you can.

“I love that feathers stuff,” she said and I tried to imagine myself saying “I love that cashmere stuff” in the same way. I couldn’t.

She continued.

“I like the kind of knitting where you knit with two strands of feathers at the same time.”

Oh God. As if one strand at a time wasn’t bad enough?

“The knitting goes really fast when you’re knitting a scarf with feathers. You can drop stitches. You can make all sorts of mistakes and it doesn’t matter. In the end end you’ve got a great looking scarf and it doesn’t matter where you screwed up.”

Look, I appreciate that people love wearing a feathers scarf. I don’t. But many do. I like pure fibers next to my skin but many people think they look great. That’s fine. But as a knitter, what, I ask you, is the point of a fast knit full of mistakes that you have covered up because the material is so abominably bulky and awful? I don’t understand it. I could only conclude from that description that she doesn’t really like knitting. And honestly, the only thing to do in that situation is smile, take a sip of your drink and keep knitting.

I looked down at the cardigan sleeve on my lap and thought of how I love stitch definition, and how that can’t be taught. Hopefully, she’ll figure that out herself one day.

Golden Vintage Cardigan



44 thoughts on “Your Sort of Knitting

  1. I like it when I…CAN’T…see the knitting…



    When it comes to feathers? I like not seeing it, too. EVER. (Eh, I mostly kid. I’ve seen some very nice feather-eyelash-foofy yarn things done. BY OTHERS. I’m making a chenille sweater for my Boo Bug right now that makes me think of knitting a TOWEL, and that’s as close to knitting with feathers as I would care to get.) (But it’s pretty. And soft. And warm. And girl-y. She’ll love it.)

  2. ha! two strands together! my god, it would be bulletproof, not to mention acid-rain!

    i think you restrained yourself admirably, and i can picture you looking lovingly at your beautiful stitch definition and a special smile slipping over your face 🙂

  3. Oh, you were very well behaved and restrained, Bells!

    Hope you can settle down in this new office without too many more disruptions (although, half days off are a Good Thing™ too!).

  4. Obviously a product kntter who can’t wait for the process to be over!

    To be honest, lash-type yarns are soft on the skin, but I’ve never seen one without holes – dropped stitches always matter because, sooner or later, that scarf will unravel! And the ridiculous prices charged for them in retail outlets!! Whoa!

  5. i hope your new team are friendlier than the last lot. maybe you could introduce ms. feathers to unfriendly pink jumper girl – or maybe you will gradually inspire her to greater things!

  6. ROFL! I had no idea what she meant when she said ‘I like it when you can’t see the knitting’.
    I often knit during my son’s swimming lessons. One of the first times I did this, a little girl kept watching me and suddenly said very quietly, ‘you’re very good’. We talked about knitting for a bit, she telling me about French knitting and the teddy she’d made from it. Over the past year I’ve often seen her, often with other friends, and today she saw me knit, nudged her friend, they both looked at me and next thing I know, her friend is pulling out her knitting too! They can’t be more than about 8, but hey, it looks like we’ve got a swimming knit club going…

  7. I am also a knit snob

    I tried knitting with feathers once – and threw it away – yup, threw away the yarn and the 14 rows I’d done, and went back then to 8ply wool

    Why? coulbn’t see the stitches, couldn’t see the knitting

    since then I’ve assured every single person I have taught to knit that knitting with feathers is a bad idea, and that when you start, wool is best,,

    OMG How many muppets have to die………….

  8. To me it doesn’t matter what something is knitted in, be it feathers, cashmere, acrylic, pure wool. The finished item is the pleasure of the knitter.
    I don’t agree that you can make mistakes and forget them. I just could never forgive myself. I drop a stitch on a feathers scarf I tink until it is found.
    “Lover of Dead Muppet”

  9. I’m with you on the stuff, I shudder to even look at it; but do you think maybe she was just being humble? Like, look at Helen, knitting that nice sweater, she doesn’t even need to look at what she’s doing, but I need to stick with the easy crap that hides my mistakes?

  10. I have knit with feathers, I knit for a friend with Parkinson’s disease some beanies which she gives to the hospital for patients who have DBS as it is very uncomfortable for them to lie on their heads after theoperation. I knit her some when she had this operation and it was a life saver for her comfort.
    In my local Show they have a section for feathers, it was the first time I entered this show as we have just moved here, but I tell you after seeing the shit scarf in feathers that one first prize as it was the only feathers thing in the category, I am going to enter with something decent even though I don’t usually knit feathers except for my friend. I agree with you about it, and how the hell could you judge something knit in feathers, show can’t see what stitch is used, you don’t see seams, what are they thinking!

  11. Bwahahahahaha. The whole thing made me laugh. Oh, it’s so often best just to keep quiet. I knit exactly two scarves with that awful stuff. I hated every minute of it. They were gifts for 10yo girls, who loved them. (This was a few years ago.) And my sister said, “Thanks for knitting that for [her daughter]! She knows I won’t touch the stuff!”

    Ah well, to each his own. 🙂

  12. I’m with you. Taking a drink to avoid any comment on her taste or skill level was the only thing to do in that situation. 😉 I’m completely with you on the stitch definition. It’s a wonderful feeling to see hundreds and hundreds of uniform stitches stretched out in front of me and be able to say “I did that!” Love your sleeve. I really am almost ready to attempt something with sleeves. Almost… 🙂

  13. Someone has to keep Lincraft / Sullivans Yarns in business.
    Our Department is full of strange knitters who have questionable yarn tastes and a desire to stay in the closet. My new section head said to me the other day “You don’t knit with that horrible self striping yarn, do you?” Don’t worry, I’ll convert her…..

  14. I think I was a knitter much like your coworker in the beginning. I didn’t know how to fix my mistakes even when I detected them (and that was not always, believe me). So I knitted with Lionbrand Homespun for much the same reason she loves feathers (is this what we in the states call eyelash?). I hate Homespun now, have bequeathed any such yarn I had left in the stash to others who do like it, and prefer to try the wide array of natural yarns in the world. But I get why she wants to hide her mistakes. Now that I don’t make so many, and now that I can fix most that I do make, I love stitch definition! and I love everything you knit. You’re the experienced knitter up ahead whom I aspire to knit as well as, one day. 8^)

  15. Is there anything more beautiful than a perfectly executed piece of stockinette? It’s one of the hardest things to do. Fancy stitches can still look lovely even if they’re flawed but stockinette is a real test of a knitter’s skill in my book.

    Feathers would make my nose itch…..

  16. I like the “feathers” yarns too, for the edges of felted bowls and as a stripe in purses, but not as a garment. Ooh, ick. That stuff’s scratchy. Give me a nice expanse of stockinette or a crunchy length of garter to snuggle up in.

  17. You know what, I’m going to go against the grain here.

    “what, I ask you, is the point of a fast knit full of mistakes that you have covered up because the material is so abominably bulky and awful?”

    I would think it’s for the accomplishment. The accomplishment and pride of making something of your very own. Sure it might not be pure, and it might not be perfect, and it might not win any prizes, but by heck it is something she can say “I made that”.

    Heck, I knitted my fair share of feathers scarves before I have come to knit what I knit now, and I’m not ashamed of them and I’ve given some away as gifts too, I’m proud that that may have been where I started off. Who knows where this lass’s knitting will take her, but if feathers or fluffy things give her the confidence to keep going and enjoy it at the moment, then who can judge.

    I’m not having a go, just trying to play devil’s advocate and look at it from another perspective. Remember the key to it all is that she IS knitting!

  18. I used to do role paying – you know, dice rolling Dungeons & Dragons (except I hate D&D).

    With one group of friends, it was always a 5-hour long deadly serious method acting session.

    The other group of friends met at the pub, played card games in the middle of the session, joked around, argued, wandered off, and wilfully trashed the Game Master’s plots (although the GMs usually knew this would happen, so didn’t bother with much of a plot.)

    I kinda liked the second group best: roleplaying was just my excuse for hanging out with friends I liked. (Crappy analogy ahead:) perhaps knitting is merely a pretext for something else she wants to do, an “in” with a group of friends she likes, a way of avoiding doing something … dunno … ?

  19. Dear Lord, preserve us all from the Yarn of Satan. Amen.

    And Gretchen:
    8cm needles? Really? How do you hang onto them? I haven’t knitted with anything over 10mm… (ducks and runs)

  20. I have knitted a few furry scarves. Not feathery, but furry. They aren’t good knitting, but they’re the knitting equivalent of really trashy TV. Tasteless, but with some kind of attraction! Plus, how else to you get to knit grass (which is what the green one resembled):)

  21. *shudder* each to his own and all, but seriously. These people must be stopped. In generations to come it will be stupid people wearing feather scarves that will rule the world if we don’t destroy them now. Gather your needles and stab. Stab til they stop knitting feather or die.

    (need I say its been a long day and my tolerance is low?)

  22. Wow – thats a real conundrum Bells. On the one hand, its great to meet a fellow knitter, on the other hand, she kind of dissed your beautiful work by talking about how she really cant be arsed doing a good job with hers. I cant believe she would take the time and energy to make something and not worry that it is a mistake ridden piece of knotty awfulness. Well done on being such a gracious colleague!

  23. I think any kind of knitting is just fine and even knitting to not see the knitting is better than not knitting at all 🙂 I think I thought that way when I first started and didn’t know what the hell I was doing and was dropping stitches left right and centre and making them up without meaning to – it was lovely to have something at the end that still looked ‘right’. To make anything with your hands is a powerful thing and it’s nice that there is every kind of knitting out there bringing that magic to so many.

  24. The part that horrifies me is that you can make mistakes, drop stitches etc and Not Care1!! Oh no, I could not bear not caring about anything I make. There is care in every stitch of my knitting and embroidery and anything else with stitches I make. Doesn’t that sound sappy?? But it is true. I love your stitch defining picture and hope you enjoy your half day!!

  25. Well done, Bells for keeping your mouth shut – or opening it only for the much more pleasant activity of wine-drinking. Debates on matters of taste – particularly in such diverse groups as those you have at work – are rarely productive and usually unpleasant.

  26. Every yarn has its own purpose doesnt it. I must the same type of knitter as you I think because I love knitting where you can see all the stitches. By the sounds of it she didnt need to try and knit the feathers yarn at all, she could have just wrapped the ball of it around her neck!!

  27. I agree with Ailsa – sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know! I’ve had so many “Wow!” moments over the last 12 months since being exposed to so many new crafts and fibres – the more I learn the more I realise I have to learn!! But I’ve never knitted with feathers, even before I know about luxury yarn shops. It’s just never appealed to me! Being the perfectionist-type that I am, I like to know when I’ve made a mistake so I can fix it, and knitting with something like feathers just asks for mistakes I think.

  28. Oh god …is it the quality over quantity debate? I bet she never shops at craft markets because they’re too expensive. I’m like you … I like a beautiful natural yarn and something interesting by way of a pattern. And your sleeve is gorgeous … have another drink on me.

  29. When I started to knit I made a couple of obligatory feather yarn scarves, and then I moved on. These days I rarely knit anything with so much as a halo, although I have some kid mohair that’s been sitting around looking pretty and might end up as a lace scarf one day.

    I suspect that for many people, the more you knit, the more you appreciate natural fibres and yarns which show off the fancy stitches you can do. But some people may just want the instant gratification of a scarf knitted in garter stitch on 8cm needles (or bigger!).

  30. knitting barf/ vomit is how I see feathers- but I see no need to tell someone who is enjoying their experience with the vile stuff that.
    Bring on the cashmere, the stitch definition, the thought and care it takes to make something hand made. Not the who-cares-what-ever-how-ever-I-throw-this-stuff-together knitting.
    Glad you got drinks and the arvo off though – I am jealous and about to go home myself

  31. ha ha, when you say at the Government’s expense, you really mean at the taxpayer’s expense, don’t you??!! heh!

    I just try to tell myself it’s all a matter of taste. Obviously most people think their taste is better than other people’s, because it’s theirs. I’m not sure I could have not said anything in this situation though.

  32. Well, at least there are people in your team that acknowledge that knitting exists.

    Of course, telling of knitting with feather-yarn with pride is cringe-worthy, but I’m sure that people would look at yours with a bit more respect after her comments.

    And your sleeve looks amazing! So beautiful!

  33. It’s always the same with ignorant people. They don’t know what they don’t know. But I admire you for knitting in that environmnent, the barracuda at my office would rip me to shreds.

  34. Okay, do I dare admit it? I had fun for a bit knitting little throws out the feather yarn. I liked the texture and it was a phase. I’ve now turned into a bit of a yarn snob, but I do look back at those nights with that gleefully tacky yarn and I still smile!

  35. Oh, yeah. You know, I think I might have said, quietly, “It’s quite different doing this: you can see every mistake in this yarn.” The most intelligent among your workmates would have understood that you are doing a different kind of thing. Who cares about the rest?

  36. I’ve knitted with my share of acrylic, but never boa or fun fur yarns. To me they have the look of something that will become dated. Something kids will say to their mothers “I can’t believe you WORE that!”

    (And how did this happen – my last three yarn buys have been wool wool wool!)

  37. there is nothing better than beautiful smooth stitch definition. the way the fabric forms, the way the yarn twists and makes patterns all on its own. knitting is about the process, as much as the finished product, so in my book, i dont think she is anyones sort of knitter. but you were very well behaved. i would have said something snarky. cos im that sort of knitter!

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