Clearly I am a spoiled entitled brat born long after the industrial revolution. I was never exposed to the reality of what it was like to rely on hand made goods.
Every piece of clothing I wear, and nearly all the food I eat, has been shipped in from a foreign country that I probably cannot even locate on a map. (can you find Bangladesh?) Now that we can rely on machines and people in far-away lands to create all of our material needs, it just doesn’t seem practical to spend hours making a scarf that would cost less than $5 at your local superstore. I think this is why I never understood the point of crafting. It is extremely time consuming and my output is marginal at best. A machine can create a much prettier and consistent sweater than even a master knitter can make by hand, and probably for about 1/10 of the price! It just doesn’t make sense! Why do people spend so much time and money making things they could just as well buy at the store?
I recently learned the answer to this question when my friend and colleague Karen taught me how to knit. Karen is a black belt crafter and has a “padded house” filled to the brim with beautiful homemade quilts and various other craft projects. She also knits and crochets and has donated more than more than 2,000 pieces (hats, mittens, scarves, dish cloths etc.) to Bridging, a charity that helps provide basic living supplies for families in need.
Since I’m keen to trying anything and everything new, Karen volunteered to host knitting lessons each Tuesday during our lunch break. Our first project was to knit a dish cloth. About five people signed up to join the fun.
I have to admit, the first lesson was very hard for me. The intricate loop system seemed impossible to master. I was constantly misplacing my needle, creating incorrect loops, dropping or adding stitches on nearly every row. I was miffed. How can third graders learn to knit so easily? I am a college educated person!
I felt stressed. I fumbled with my phalanges as if they were talons as others in the class easily picked up the needle movements. I went home that night disheartened. Clearly crafting isn’t for me, I told myself. I have evolved past the need to develop skills in this area!
The next evening my stubborn streak kicked in. I picked up my needles determined to try again. I watched a few youtube videos to refresh my memory then started over. I was able to cast on without much trouble (getting the first stitches on your needle), but the basic knit stich evaded me. I simply could not get the stiches to look consistent and I was mysteriously adding stiches unexplainably. At one point, my row of 50 stiches morphed into sloppy row of 73. My “dishcloth” turned into a tangle of lost loops, hanging tails and large holes. It looked like Frankenstein made it. I spent hours working on Frankenblob. Even though Frank was certainly severely handicapped, he did give me an opportunity to practice. After several hours working on Frank, I was finally getting the hang of it. But, in the end – there was no salvaging him. I cut Frank free and started over yet again.
With a fresh start, and a better knack for proper technique, my next attempt was reasonably successful. Aside from a weird tumor jutting out from one side, it was a perfectly healthy dish cloth. Perhaps it isn’t the most attractive towel in the drawer, but it is acceptable.
With one complete project in my drawer I’ve moved on to pearling. Basically this is knitting, but in reverse. By alternating rows of knitting and pearling, you end up with a smoother look. My third and fourth dishcloths look pretty good!
Now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, I am really enjoying it. Instead of sitting on the couch like a fat ass, I’m now sitting on my couch like a fat ass whilst knitting! Even though the activity is enjoyable, I have to admit, it’s still rather impractical.
I calculated how much my first few complete dish towels cost me:
Labor paid at minimum wage: 10 hours @ $ 7.29
Eighty-two dollars for a wonky dish cloth? That is absurd! But I totally get it! I totally understand why people find fulfillment out of creating something from scratch and I am highly hopeful that I will continue to knit on a regular basis.
In related news, I finally discovered how I can get rich. You don’t want to miss out on this amazing offer! Buy a one-of-a-kind misshapen dishcloth for the low-low price of $100 ($4.99 s&h)! Please allow 6-9 months for delivery.