Material Girl

When I envisioned my life at 21, I envisioned a classycocktail in one hand and the hand of an amazingly gorgeous celebrity in theother.  However, while I may spendtime with one or both of those wonderful indulgences every so often, I find myhands more commonly occupied by a pair of knitting needles, sizes 0-9.

Three years ago I didn’t have a clue that knitting needlescame in different sizes.  Andmaterials!  And shapes!  The knitting world remained a mystery Iwasn’t even curious to begin unraveling. Pun intended.
My first week of college, I remember eating sushi and yogurton the steps of the Met, comparing my favorite brands of jeans with my earliestNew York friends—a scene out of Gossip Girl that we so easily madereality.  I had no idea where myTrue Religion Boot Cut dark wash jeans had come from, nor did I even care toquestion it.  Clothes came off arack and that was that.
While I quickly busied myself by attending galleries,joining various community service clubs, and attempting to learn sign language(thank Marlee Matlin on The L Word for this one), my new best friend Deborah occupieda chunk of her time with needles and yarn.  Not wanting to draw attention to herself, Deborah knitmostly in her room, hiding her presumed “dorky” hobby from the masses.  It wasn’t until Deborah finished anelaborate lace blanket and was forced to lie it out in her common area to drythat I realized the true art of knitting. I admired and admired it, amazed that a person could make something socomplex with only her hands!  Ibegan asking her questions about knitting, curious about the craft and amazedat her talents.
And one day, perhaps in an attempt to procrastinate fromstarting homework, I decided to ask Deborah to teach me to knit.  She agreed!  Before I could second-guess my latest ambition, I wasstocking up on yarn and needles at our local craft store and learning rhymes tohelp me remember my knit stitches.
I found knitting incredibly satisfying, unlike studying,which required hours of labor for uncertain results, each row I knit signifiedan accomplishment, I was making something beautiful, creating something out ofnothing, putting my efforts into something constructive!  I could spend my time in front of theTV actually being productive, have conversations on the subway while whippingup a new hat for myself, or make unique gifts for those I loved that actuallyfelt better to give than anything I could have bought at the store.
I joined Ravelry, AKA the Facebook of the knitting community,where I met more knitters like myself, learned more techniques, and wasinspired by patterns for lifelike turkey hats and glamorous ball gownscompletely made by hand.  Thiswhole world I never knew existed was suddenly wide open for me to explore.  It was like discovering Platform 9 ¾ forthe first time!
And while the craft was certainly satisfying, I found thecommunity the most exciting part about being a knitter.
Knitters love knitters.  Knitters love knitting.  Knitters love knitting with knitters, talking about knittingwith knitters, knitting for knitters, meeting new knitters etc etc.  Knitters love sheep and fiber and lambburgers and everything in between. Knitters are those quirky, eccentric people you honestly can’tresist.
And naturally, once you know about the clique, you wantin.  Both my New York friends andmy Chicago friends wanted knitting lessons.  They too wanted to be able to create gorgeous knitwear andimpress their friends!  Thosefriends taught other friends and I found myself sharing patterns with people I’dassume would more likely play tackle football than knit a scarf.
Knitting was one of the few aspects of my life that wascompletely non-competitive- everyone is so supportive and encouraging andalways willing to offer advice and help on any challenges that may arise.  I’ve found myself at home amongstrangers in various NYC knitting shops, bonded together through our stitches,promising to friend each other on Ravelry after we’ve shared a few minutesbrowsing yarn together or after hours of chatting and crafting..
While I’ve attempted to write this post numerous timesthroughout the past few years, it never seemed appropriate until I finished myvery first project, which I cast on (knitting jargon for “began”) in Spring2010.  Though I’d never knit morethan a few stitches, I ambitiously decided to make a blanket similar to theones that had decorated my couches at home growing up.  My mother had crocheted them throughout college and I aspired to do the same.  How cool would it be to have somethingI made myself?
The blanket was frustrating.  A huge project for a beginner.  “Why don’t you start with a hat?”  my friends suggested. “Then you can finish something and be proud, this will take youforever.”

It did take me forever.  Almost 20 months, to be exact.  The blanket has travelled to numerous cities, warmed my legswhile being knit during numerous sporting events, enjoyed many an episode of 30 Rock, and now, after thousands uponthousands of knits and purls, I have finally completed my project!

Perhaps the longest I’ve ever worked on anything (this blognot included), I impressed myself and denied the doubters any pride, creating awarm, comfy, and of course beautiful blanket that brings a smile to my face everytime I use the very item I made!
And of course, while creating my blanket, I took weeks ormonths off to create a slew of other fantastic projects—scarves, hats, ties,cowls, mittens, bags—and I’m still going!
Now that I’ve done the impossible, the knitting world is myoyster—anything is possible!  I’veditched Frat Party Thursdays for Knit Night in a coffee shop, some of myclothing budget is now redirected towards alpaca and wool, and I’m constantlycollecting new patterns to create more and more of my own unique wardrobe. I havetwo pieces on knitting pending review at TheNew Yorker (keep your fingers crossed!)  In short, I cannot imagine the past few years of my lifewithout knitting. It’s become so ingrained in me, something that makes me happyeveryday, and something I look forward to make others happy with as well!
My illustrious blanket!