Monday, April 26, 2010

Starting Out - Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, Day 1

I learned to knit in second grade, 1970. Growing up in Germany, we had a subject called Handwork (Handarbeiten) , which all the girls took. The boys went to a similar class but they were using saws and glue and wood and such. By the 4th grade, we all took the class together, and seemed to alternate between your typical boy's and girl's crafts.

In Handwork, the teacher taught us how to knit, crochet, needlework, and basic sewing. Knitting is what stuck.

I do not have my "early works" handy anymore - I remember crocheting a skirt for my barbie. My first knitted item was a potholder, which had a crocheted edging. I gave it to my Oma, and she kept it all her life.

Here is an early pair of socks that I made, I think I was 16. The first pair was red, and I am not sure where they ended up. I know that this pair is well worn, it has a couple of weak spots on the sole, and they are a bit pilly. The heels and toes are reinforced. The heel is a typical German (or Dutch) square heel, a construction which I adhered to until only a few years ago, when I discovered Nancy Bush.

My Magnum Opus in high school was this cardigan:

My Oma (I come from a family of knitters) had given me equal amounts of 3 colors of Shetland wool for my birthday, which I had picked out. I used a Mon Tricot stitch dictionary and selected my stitch patterns. I knew I had to dsitribute the colors evenly so I woldn't run out of any one of them.

The design at the bottom has rows with 3 colors in them.

I wasn't using a sweater pattern and was making this completely freestyle, from my head. I knew nothing about knitting a sweater in the round, or steeking, so I made the whole thing in pieces, back and forth, and did my darnest to not make it pucker.

I totally winged the sleeve increases and the neckline. Yeah - as if you can't tell by looking at this!

This cardigan took me a year to make, and I wore it proudly, and often!

The back was actually narrower than the fronts...can you see the sideseams? But aside from the construction flaws, I am still in awe of my younger self...

I made this next sweater when I was in college. My roommate and I went down to Munich one weekend and stumbled upon a yarn shop. Even back then, I coudn't pass up an opportunity to buy yarn, and with my limited budget raided a sale basket. This was a bulky weight single ply wool. Turned out there wasn't quite enough, so I had to creatively augment my sweater.
Again, no pattern, freestyle knitting. Back and front different from each other, and sleeves different again. Cables, knit/purl combos, and mistake stitch rib.

view of the back
Another sweater that I loved and wore all the time.

This next one is made from Reynold's Lopi, a yarn I bought during my first year as an exchange student here in the US, 1983. I was very disappointed that there were no yarn shops around here. I did find a nice craft supply store that stocked Reynold's and Unger yarns.
For this one, I again consulted my trusty Mon Tricot stitch dictionary and made the whole thing up.

And again, knitted in pieces, and seamed.

Some Bohus-style patterning (though I didn't know what that was at the time...) - in bulky yarn!

I know there was a knitting break between the body and the sleeves. Hence the different patterning here.

And there you have it: a brief history of a knitter; beginnings.


  1. LOVE the high school sweater!!! And you've just kept going ever since.

  2. Karin, the trip down Memory Lane is fantastic.
    I envy you having had the good fortune of coming from a family of Knitters. I'm sure your Oma is very proud:-)
    Thanks for sharing your memories,

  3. I am also in awe of your younger self!

  4. All I can say is WOW! Thanks for sharing that.

  5. Whoa! What beautiful work! And you were so young! You and your teachers should be proud!!!

  6. I see your amazing talent was evident from an early age. Cathy

  7. I love that you still have those great things to show and tell!


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