I have been knitting since I was in the 5th grade. I give credit for this to two wonderful women, neither of whom knew how to knit - my mom and my grandmother.
I surprised Mom when I expressed an interest and I remember the look on her face when she told me that it was something that she couldn't teach me. As a parent myself, I now understand what that look meant - "I really wish I could help you, darling, but I just can't. I feel helpless on this one." Seeing my disappointment, Mom suggested what my parents have always done when they did not know something, getting a book. She and I made a special trip to the library and we found a how-to-guide to knitting. Then she dug out her mom's (Grandma Emily's) double pointed sock knitting needles and some old rug yarn which had both been living at the bottom of her sewing box for 25 years or more so that I could practice the stitches pictured in the library book.
A couple of weeks later, I was visiting my grandmother in Houston. She saw me sitting quietly with the library book in my lap practicing my knitting and asked me about it. After I explained what I was up to, she observed that I was running out of yarn. She called a good friend of hers, who knitted, and asked where to shop for such things and got the name of a needle arts store not too far away. I remember walking into that store and being amazed at all the different yarns in the bins that lined the walls from floor to ceiling. Then there were the all the different types and sizes of knitting needles and crochet hooks hanging from the floor displays. I was in heaven.
Grandmother explained to the shop keeper what I was doing and I showed the woman my sampler. She made a suggestion for a real first project, a garter stitch afghan in two colors. She wrote down the instructions, set us up with yarn and a pair of knitting needles. I spent my entire two week summer visit with Grandmother working on my afghan. Grandmother was very proud and told all her friends about my project. I still have it to this day tucked away in the bottom of our blanket storage. It is a study in learning to knit. You can see in the stitches where I finally learned the nuances of yarn tension and consistency.
Until I reached my 30's, I had always been shy about my knitting. I made a sweater for Mom, a couple of scarfs for cousins, and a sweater for a college boyfriend (which took a ton of courage). But for the most part, my projects were for personal use and the frequency of my knitting became few and far between. Then our friends started having babies and I picked up my knitting needles again to discover that I liked knitting baby clothes. The projects are small, relatively quick, and satisfying to complete. The compliments on the handmade layettes I have given away have done much to bolster my confidence.
Now I am a stay-at-home-mom seeking a way to feel as though she can provide something to our financial bottom line. After reading some encouraging articles about other women who have made successful businesses with their knitting, I have illusions (or maybe delusions) of grandeur for my own knitting potential, never mind the fact that such businesses have a much lower success rate than even restaurants. But, I have put together a simple business plan, have been chanting the mantra, "Start simple and small and work up", and have picked up my needles again. In the weeks that it has taken me to organize and build a small inventory, I have learned some new techniques/skills and have experimented with different yarn. I have all kinds of product line ideas and I love the creativity that is flowing. So we will see what happens. In the meantime, you can check out my new online store, Hynek's Handmade, on Etsy.
Note: As of 07/26/2010, a copy of this article has been migrated to the Hynek's Handmade blog site.