I was surfing Jimmy Beans Wool online yesterday. I had been lured in by the August's special color announcement. It's called Black Rock City, a color inspired by Northern Nevada's Burning Man Festival, which I attended last year and will be returning to in a few weeks. They got the colors of the desert sunsets just right even if the photo doesn't show it too well. It looks like I will have to knit socks for all of my fellow burners. Maybe a few hats too.
Surfing around the wool watcher deals, JBW made a point of providing a bunch of burner-friendly yarns that would make excellent hats and scarves. These were mainly novelty yarns, many of them popular from my early days of knitting. Searching through them put me in a bit of a time warp back to an era when I didn't know much about knitting, when it seemed new and special and mystical -when I didn't already know how to knit a sock, twist cables, read a pattern or felt a bag.
Yes, there is such a thing as beginning knitting magic. A lot of beginner knitters bemoan being a newbie -they want to know all the things now, they want to walk into a yarn shop with ease, knowledgeable about yarn weights and techniques so that they can better connect with their fellow knitters, but what new knitters don't realize is that their newbie-ness is invaluable. Never again will knitting seem like a spell cast between fingers and sticks. Once you become an experienced knitter, you will see a variegated yarn and already have a good idea how it will knit up. Stitch patterns can be easily guessed and you can name patterns according to the designer from across the room. Such mysteries are sometimes great motivators, it's how knitters move quickly through projects, desperate to learn the next skill or find the next nifty knitting pattern.
I realize that not everyone has had the luxury of beginning knitting magic -there are some knitters who learned to knit so young that they might not remember a time without knitting. They know knitting, purling, increasing and decreasing like most non-knitters know how to count. I was so envious of these long time knitters. It's like they had a secret joy that they've been relishing for years and years while the rest of us non-knitters just went about our lives devoid of the joy that two sticks and some yarn can bring.
It was a little painful to realize that I could have been knitting my whole life, that there were twenty-four years of my life that I didn't knit that could have been full of scarves, sweaters and hats. Knowing the joys that knitting brings: something to do while waiting in line, a thread of commonality with some fellow humans, the feeling of accomplishment when learning a new technique; I couldn't help but be jealous. I had felt that jealousy for the better part of nine years, until just now perusing the recommended novelty yarns from Jimmy Beans Wool. I was reminded of something important that I had lost over the years as I became a more and more experienced knitter: the sense of wonder.
This new-knitting magic seems far and away and gone, like a past life. It's youthful and full of folly. Of course I can knit a chunky sweater with size seven needles for my busty chest. The knitting magic recalls a time without children, with more quiet time and a closer connection to my self. That time when the only care in my world was how cool that ball of yarn was and how I couldn't wait to knit it up to see how it would turn out.
There is something to be said about the innocence of the new knitter -or perhaps its the innocence of the life as yet un-lived. For I would never want to return to that time when I was learning to knit, because that unknowing is replaced with fantasy, that a sweater will fit with an incorrect gauge, or that a shade of yarn will look better than it actually does against the skin, or that you can knit six sweaters a year while working full time. It is much better to live in a reality tinged with fantasy than live a fantasy with a hint of reality. Life works much better that way. For now my sweaters fit, I have been improved by the challenges of knitting and life and I know that one day I will have all the time in the world to revel in the simple things.
Do you remember your early knitting days? What was it like for you as a beginning knitter?