Monday, September 10, 2012

My Knit-orious Habit

Considering the size of my t-shirt collection and my knitting addiction, I don't actually have a lot of knitting-themed t-shirts. Today's shirt is probably my favourite. Bought it originally when Vancouver's Urban Yarns first opened and have had to replace it at least once because I wore it out. Gifted one to Molly in Saskatoon one year too, I believe.


My mother taught me to knit when I was five or six. She knitted a lot while she was pregnant with my brother. She likes to tell a story about my early projects where I'd start with a row of twenty stitches and somehow end up with a row of forty stitches. (Apparently, I was gifted with increases, even when they weren't called for.) Mom taught what she knew and so I was cable knitting before I was seven, something I didn't realize was unusual until much later in life. Knitting was ingrained from the time I learned it. For some reason, crochet just doesn't stick.

When I was in high school, knitting was not, strangely enough, a common hobby among my peers. As I spent a lot of time backstage during drama productions, awaiting various prop or scene change cues, I kept a project with me to work on in the down moments. It came in handy for killing time and wasn't as immersively distracting as reading. The one time I missed a cue - a pivotal crash sound effect during The Diary on Anne Frank - it was because I had been chatting with the other crew members. When we realized that the cue had been missed, we immediately dropped the shopping cart we were using to simulate the burglars and I ran up the stairs to meet the cast as they came off-stage post scene to apologize for the miscue. Before I had the chance though, one cast member vented in an eloquent stream of profanity what he thought of me and my crew. Upset and appalled as only a teenage assistant stage manager can be when she screws up, I ran back down the stairs in tears to the properties room which is where the director found me several minutes later... knitting to calm my nerves.

If memory serves (and often it doesn't but I'd like to think it does here) the director told the cast during notes that night that he had purposely delayed the crash to see how the cast would deal with it and to create a more genuine reaction of surprise when it did come. Not sure that anyone bought it but I think that was the first time I learned that the best teachers need to roll with the punches with conviction.

My knitting actually came in handy for a more practical purpose on the set of the drama festival production in my Grade 12 year. We were all ambitious thespians on the set of Ionesco's The Bald Prima Donna (a slightly different translation from The Bald Soprano) and one (well, two actually) of the female characters was supposed to knit throughout her scene. The actress asked me to teach her how to knit because she wanted to do more than mime the action during the scene. She actually achieved decent proficiency by the end of festival competition. Unfortunately, the judge's kudos went to the actress who mimed the knitting for her "authenticity". I still believe that we did such a good job creating interchangeability between the characters that the very pregnant judge just mixed them up.

I didn't knit as much in university but when I was teaching in Yorkshire, I met Sally, the school librarian at one of the schools I was a supply teacher (aka substitute, aka TOC) at. She was knitting behind the desk when I brought my class in one morning and we struck up a conversation. She invited me to a weekly knitting group in Leeds and *bang* I was back in the knitting world. Yorkshire is a knitter's dream for wools and I dreamed a lot that year. The following year, while living in London, I joined the Liberty's knitting group and bought a lot more yarn. I credit my time in England for a certain snobbishness towards certain fibres and a penchant for ridiculously expensive ones (silk/alpaca blend, anyone?). Anyhoo, one of the reasons I picked this shirt today was that, completely randomly last week, someone commented on a knitting project I did in 2005 and posted on my knitting blog. Yup, I had a knitting blog. And it's still up. It's a little hard (maybe bittersweet?) for me to look at those posts for personal reasons but I've decided that all of them will stay up for the time being since, quite honestly, I'm pretty proud of those projects. 

Currently, my knitting time is taken up with cotton dishcloths. I even posted a picture of my first one on Pinterest

The dishcloths came about from a request from Chris who had used her last set of hand knit cotton dishes cloths to bits and, mid-June, put a quick Facebook request out to her knitting acquaintances to see if anyone could make her some new ones. I happened to be going out to see her brother's family at the beginning of July so I volunteered to give 'er a try. As a rule, I hate working in cotton. I find it dehydrates my hands and, as a project yarn, it has no give/stretch and it is HEAVY. Turns out, when you're not trying to knit an entire sweater with it, cotton is pretty fun stuff to work with and, with a little experimentation, I managed to figure out a pattern that almost completely uses up the individual balls which means less waste and fewer ends to weave in. While I was making Chris' dishcloths, the secretaries at school admired them and I made them each one as an end-of-school gift. Since then, I've gotten orders for them from co-workers at the library. I figure that once I've gotten caught up on the orders I'm working on, I'll knit a few for the Etsy shop I set up two years ago but never posted anything to. 

So here's my crowd-sourcing effort for the day:

Any ideas as to what I should charge for them? 

Keep in mind that these would be for people who value having hand knit 100% cotton reusable dishcloths.

The yarn costs about $2 a ball and I've been told that the dishcloths last about 3 years, used on pretty much a daily basis. It takes me approximately 2 hours to knit one. My co-workers have paid $5 apiece but that's a friends & family rate. I probably shouldn't go MUCH higher. (Blog followers would also get that friends & family rate, of course :)