I'll start at the beginning. Several years ago, I got this knitting kit. It came with some yarn, an instructional DVD, and patterns to make some dog toys. Thing is, had I made knitted dog toys, Meg would've shredded them to smithereens in about 3 seconds flat. She's no terrier, but my half sheltie/half eskimo destroys even the stuffed animals intended for heavy chewing dogs with the best of 'em. I did want to learn to knit, though, just because I want to learn to do pretty much everything having to do with art or craft, so I hung onto the kit, though I never made time to really look at it.
Well, I've mentioned, probably, that I'm in community theater. A couple years ago, I was cast in this workshop where I was to be a pregnant schizophrenic woman, hearing my fetus talking to me. It was a phenomenal role to play, with so many emotions and so much craziness; it was really all over the place in terms of character and dialogue. Thing is, the script called for my character to be knitting on stage, pretty much the whole time.
I pulled out the DVD from the kit and bought myself a beginner knitting book too. And I got a skein of "baby colored" yarn. It was pastel rainbow. I taught myself how to cast on and the knit stitch, and practiced at home, at rehearsals, and any chance I got. Just the knit stitch, just going back and forth in what'd probably turn out to be a pretty skinny scarf. I didn't want to go farther than that, or fancier, because I wanted it to be mechanical; something I could do while staying in character and not forgetting my lines.
It worked. And then when the performance was over I put down the knitting. I'd discovered how mesmerizing it could be, how relaxing, but I had no use in real life for pastel rainbow yarn or anything made from it. And I never really made time to learn more than the knit stitch, though all this time I intended to pick it back up and go further with it. Y'know... to purl or something. And maybe bind off, even. Never happened.
In December, when the Handmade Artists Forum was having its Secret Santa fun, my Santa, a knitter herself, got me a kit to knit slipper socks. I sat down one day with the pattern and stuff, intending to start making them... and realized that I had no idea how to read a knitting pattern. Oops. I didn't realize it'd be in code. It's a lot like baking, where you just know that t is teaspoon and T is tablespoon. So I emailed a friend of mine, also a phenomenal knitter. I thank her tremendously, but I still wasn't confident enough to try it, and I didn't want to mess up and ruin the yarn I was given. So it stayed set aside.
Then, in May, I won the May Giveaway Day at Underground Crafter. The Underground Crafter is really Marie, a knitter, crocheter, soapmaker, and all around cool chick who lives in Manhattan and in addition to selling her own work at her Etsy shop, teaches knitting and crochet around the city.
Jiving our schedules was an interesting endeavor, but on July 9, I finally hopped the bus into NYC, met Marie at a Starbucks just a few blocks from Port Authority, and had my lesson. I'd told her I needed to brush up on casting on and the knit stitch, then wanted to learn to purl and bind off, as well as learn to read patterns, of course. And I told her I had nephews and wanted to maybe make some cute clothes for them, but especially toys. I'm big on the toys.
So in addition to giving me a set of her own Underground Crafter wooden knitting needles, instructions for a few really simple toys, a key to unlock the knitting pattern code, and instructions for basic knitting, she brought some practice yarn, and we got to work. I did this.
That right there is an actual, honest-to-goodness stockinette stitch! Knitting and purling, casting on and binding off. Dude, I rock. Of course, at the other end, I did something very wrong, not sure what.
Marie was nice enough to blame the small table and distractions of Starbucks. Really, she may have had something there, since I practiced the whole way home on the bus, and with the exception of one row when I accidentally purled instead of knitted, I did a much better job.
Impatient person that I am, pretty much as soon as I got home, I got started on one of the patterns Marie gave me, which is really from here. It's called a Martian Mouse, which works fine for me. And I have a friend who's having a baby shower soon, for a female fetus, so I figured the same yarn would be perfect. It's pretty much the easiest pattern ever. It's two squares...
Two strips for ears...
And the knitting is done! Then the ears get sewn on...
And a tail added. The original pattern called for a pompom tail, but I didn't want that on a mouse, so I knotted yarn to make a mouse tail.
A face goes on, and it all gets sewn around the edges and stuffed.
A mouse! It's cute and squishy and soft, and of course I immediately had to start on another one.
How perfect is this dark blue, which by the way is really soft, for three more mice for the two nephews and honorary nephew?! Right? Right!