My Journey through Breast Cancer

On October 11, 2013, I was diagnosed with Stage II Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) ... or as we like to call it, extreme measures for a nap (EMFN). For a while, this blog will be my cancer journal. Enter at your own risk.

21 June 2007

to knit or not to knit

A number of years ago, in that year between my first year in China and my last three, my mom taught me how to crochet. It was the Fall of 1999, and I was in the process of raising support and finishing my training to return to China. I still remember the first blanket I ever made. It was blue, the whole thing was made from one stitch, and it got pretty big … but I hated all the mistakes it had, so I ended up taking the entire thing apart and turning it back into boring balls of yarn. Though I considered this first project a disaster, it was the beginning of something magical.

OK, maybe “magical” is a bit of an overstatement, but I learned to LOVE to crochet. I made afghans for all my friends in China on their birthdays, I made scarves and I taught other people how to crochet. Over the years I learned where the best yarn shops were (in China), and when I couldn’t find what I needed, I had my mom send it to me. Crocheting became the perfect relaxing, creative outlet for me during my years overseas. My mom had taught me a valuable skill.

I’ve decided to start a gallery of my products of yarn. I’m interested in documenting the things I make, kind of like an archive. I’m sorry I didn’t take pictures of all the things I’ve given away over the years. Most of the things I make end up as gifts, and I rarely see them again.

Unfortunately, I have only one item in my crochet gallery so far. This afghan was finally finished in March of 2007. I crocheted 81 squares, then sewed them together, then crocheted a border. This one I made for me, for my house, and it really is one of my favorite afghans I’ve ever made.

Many of you probably know that the other main way to weave yarn into beautiful things is to knit it. Knitting is much different than crocheting. Crocheting uses just one hook, and its easy to pick up lost stitches and change yarn and all that. Knitting, on the other hand, can use up to five needles at a time! When you drop a stitch, unless you’re an accomplished professional knitter, just resign yourself to a hole in your garment. I tried knitting once, a long time ago, and after just an hour or so, I decided it was too hard. And I gave up.

But that was then. Not too long ago Caleb and I were in Borders, and I found this book of beautiful knitted scarves, with all the instructions on how to make them. And I became inspired. I wanted to be able to make these scarves, in patterns that can only be accomplished with knitting needles. No crocheting your way into these beauties. And so I bought the book, foolish as that may seem. Most of the patterns are for at least intermediate knitters, and I wasn’t even a beginner! But rest assured, I also bought a book for beginning knitters, with all the instructions on how to make the basic stitches.

And so, with my inspiration just an arm’s reach away, the beginning knitters book now forever open on the coffee table in the living room, scraps of yarn and a beginner’s set of knitting needles, I have begun to teach myself how to knit. Though it is still difficult, I’m not finding it as difficult as I remember it being. Maybe its because I’m inspired, I’m determined, and because giving up is for sissies.

After I learned some basic stitches, I decided to try one of the basic patterns. A hat. It took me a while, but I did it … and I only dropped one stitch in the whole process! Not bad for a beginner, eh? It’s a far cry from perfect, and a long way from complicated, but it’s a hat! Its wearable! My husband was kind enough to be the model for my first-ever knitted project. He’s such a good sport.

And so now I am scouring the Internet for more knitting patterns (you’d be amazed how many are out there for free), looking through my stash of yarn for inspiration, and well on my way to making my first scarf from that fabulous book. My goal is to have knitted gifts for Christmas this year. They’ll be small ones, like socks and wrist warmers and beanies. But they will be knitted! (And by the way, should you happen to one day be a recipient of one of these hand-knitted wonders, I expect profound awe and appreciation.)

Might I take this moment to encourage you to continue to pursue the things you’ve always wanted to do or learn, to get to the places you’ve always wanted to go? I’ve found having some form of physical inspiration can be helpful … very helpful in fact. When there’s something way out there that I want, if I want it bad enough, I am motivated to begin the baby steps required to reach it. (My weight loss journey has taken much the same path.)

I’ll have a permanent link to my crochet and knitting gallery in the list to the right. But you can be assured I’ll also alert you when anything new has been added, and give you a new link then, too.


Mom Dub said...

Your model needs to go to charm school! ;-)

Too bad Gma's moving up to Reno--she was a knitter extraordinaire in her day!

Mom Dub

Gretchen said...

Heidi, some of my most vivid memories of rooming with you involve crocheting and 24 probably together.... =0)
That hat does look great! Good luck with knitting!