“First you must cast on your stitches, not too tight, then you can begin to knit the garter stitch, which is a basic stitch and one you will use often.  You should probably begin with the US13 size needles, and a #6 bulkier yarn.”

This was some of the jargon I was exposed to when I decided to try my hand at knitting recently.  I am a forever optimist and truly believe that you are never too old to learn a new trick.

At first I just wanted to support my friend, Kathy, when she said she wanted to start a knitting group at the Somers Library last January.  Little did I know that knitters would be coming out of the woodwork to assemble with skeins of yarn, exchange ideas, show off their work and help the ones like me who barely knew how to hold a needle.

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I listened as the ladies discussed patterns using letters such as, RND, SSK, WYIB, YO, RS, etc.  Wow, I thought my school days and memorizing formulas were long gone.  I guess not.  I wanted to be a part of this group.  I wanted to know what all the abbreviations meant and how to apply them.  I wanted in.

I admit that it was rough going for me at first because I am left-handed and I’ve learned that life does not cater to left-handers.  I tried to understand when the ladies explained knitting to me, but my left-hand was having none of it.  But, I was determined to learn how to knit, so I decided to learn right-handed.  After all, I had adjusted to utensils, appliances, school desks, etc., why couldn’t I adjust to this as well? 

With borrowed needles and a hunk of yarn, I began casting stitches onto my needle.  Frustration is a good word to use for that task.  My friend, Kathy, slowly and patiently explained each step, demonstrated how to position my fingers and hold the yarn.  All I had to do was practice, practice, practice.

During our session, the ladies talked and knit, laughed and knit, drank coffee and knit and helped others and knit without once dropping a stitch.  I left feeling clumsy and inadequate, but decided to take home the needles and yarn and do what they all suggested: practice, practice, practice.

At our next session, I was happy to show off the twenty rows of stitches I managed to knit.  Sandy, Ursel, Roberta, Judy and Kathy each praised my efforts, even though I had as many holes in my piece as I did stitches.

Three weeks in, I took a trip to A.C. Moore and bought skeins of yarn in various colors and began making myself a scarf in a beautiful salmon shade.  I taught myself how to rip out any mistakes I had made, and when finished, it looked pretty decent.    

Since January, I have found pleasure and peace in knitting.  My “knitting bag” is always at the ready with at least two to three projects underway.  But, before I lead you to believe that I am an accomplished knitter capable of making sweaters, quilts, hats, etc., let me tell you of my ambitious idea of making a pair of slippers.  I bought a beginner knitting magazine and found a simple pattern for a pair of bootie slippers for adults, the kind you put on your cold tootsies on a brutal winter night while wrapped in a Sherpa blanket binge watching Downton Abbey…again.

The pattern indicated that it was the easiest beginner project.  I imagined myself knitting booties as Christmas presents for everyone I know; even people I hadn’t seen in years would receive these special “made by me” gifts.  So I began knitting, hit a snag, tried to correct, knit again, hit a snag tried to correct and finally admitted to myself that I needed some instruction from the experts in our knitting group.  Ursel was kind enough to put down the lovely baby blanket she was working on, took one look at my half-made bootie and pulled out the needle, leaving all the little yarn loops unattached and swaying in mid-air.  I broke out in a cold sweat and asked for some water as I was feeling faint.  Clearly Ursel had no idea of the gargantuan effort I had put forth to make the small piece of bootie.  And then, just like that, Ursel unraveled a few rows of yarn, inserted the needle back into the swaying loops and directed me to pick up from there.  “Ooooh, I see it now,” I said, happy as a clam.

The next week I walked in with the completed bootie and had even embellished it with little yarn bows along the top.   It is an enormous bootie which could possibly fit Shaquille O’Neal, but I was proud of the accomplishment.  Sandy suggested I use it as a planter and that doesn’t sound like a bad idea since I don’t think I’ll be making the other one too soon.  

So, I can report to you that knitting makes me happier than a pig in mud; and like Sandy, Ursel, Judy, Roberta and Kathy, I too can now knit and talk, knit and laugh, knit and drink tea and even knit and watch TV, but  I still drop a stitch now and then.   I love the friends I’ve made and love using my mind and my hands in new and different ways.  Perhaps you too would like to join our fun group of many knitters and crocheters at the Somers

Library, Friday’s from 10:30 – 12 noon.  No sign-up is required.

As for me, I have a long way to go to catch up with all the amazing, talented women in our group, so I will continue to practice, practice, practice.

joannfrancella@aol.com