A few days ago on the knitlist, Ray Whiting helped turn the posts away from whining about a newspaper essay towards some positive sharing about knitting. Here are his questions and my answers:
> What sparked your interest in knitting? Did you leave it and come back years later? Why?
I wanted to be able to make a sweater. I have/had crocheted for years, but couldn’t imagine getting the kind of drape I wanted in a sweater by crocheting. So with the help of a local yarn store (Sophie’s in Philadelphia) and a couple of friends, I taught myself to knit. Years ago someone had given me a lesson (before I started crochet) but it didn’t go well.
> What inspires you to begin a project? (a magazine pattern? news of a new baby/marriage? wanting what’s at the glamour shops but not willing to pay those prices?)
I rarely just follow a pattern, so beginning a project is more of having an idea of an object or an image that I want and then figuring out how I’m going to do it. I own many knitting books, which I use for inspiration. Sometimes they suggest an item I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of knitting, sometimes they suggest colors or textures or construction techniques, other times they serve as the solution books for how to knit what I’ve decided to make.
> Have you ever converted a crochet, cross‐stitch or quilting design into a knitted piece? Describe it–what was the original design, how did you change it, were you happy with the result, etc.
I’ve used charted celtic interlacing from a Dover book to do stranded colorwork. The only thing I needed to do in order to use it was to figure out the repeat for the braids I was considering (I was putting it around a hat) to find one that would connect correctly. I liked the result.
> NOT counting famous/published designers, who is your PERSONAL knitting ‘hero’ (i.e., someone you actually know, whose work you’ve viewed and/or handled)? Why? How did their mentoring help your own knitting?
Ellen Helmuth, one of the women who helped me learn how to knit, is one of those people who has internalized garment construction, yarn weight, and needle size. She knits just regular garments out of her head: sweaters, socks, mittens. She can visualize how many stitches she needs to cast on, what needles to try, and what to do for shaping. She can also read knitting very well, locate mistakes, and figure out how to fix it.
I’d like to some day have that kind of command of the craft.
> What is your “specialty”? (i.e., what do your friends and family know you can be counted on to make?)
I guess mittens are one of the things I’ve done the most of.
> If you could teach one technique, what would it be? (special way to ball the yarn? a new cast‐on or cast‐off method? a special stitch pattern? a way to organize your supplies?)
I’m not sure I really want to teach knitting.
> What is the most recent special technique you learned? Where did you learn it?
Knitting a square in the round. I learned it from a book, which I don’t have handy, but I think it’s *Traditional Lace Knitting*.
> What technique has been your worst bug‐a‐boo or met with the most resistance?
Weaving in loose ends!
> What technique would you dearly LOVE to learn next?
Knitting backwards. Since I’m working on a shawl and considering a lace border, I may get my wish.
> Who was the last stranger you met because you (or they) were knitting in public?
I met my friend Valarie’s mother while knitting at the Sunday‐night international folk dance at MIT. She had never seen anyone knitting in the round before. I may have even been using DPs, I don’t remember.