My grandmother once proudly informed me that the cardigan she was wearing was over 30 years old. “They don’t make jumpers like that anymore”, she snorted dismissively. “It’s all a bunch of junk these days”. I admit that at the time, with all the arrogance and social conformity of youth, I thought it was hilarious that she valued durability over 30 years of changing fashions. Certainly, in fairness to my callow youthful self, the cardigan in question was a rather surprising coral and gold combination in a style rarely seen outside of dance routines involving dancers with names like Bobby and Cissy.
Now, however, I find myself increasingly disappointed, disgruntled, and dismayed by the poor quality of commercial knitwear. Pilling, bagging, and ripped seams – these, I find, are what I can expect within the first month of use, regardless of the price paid. And of course, there is the problem with warmth: too few commercial cardigans are warm enough to provide much relief for our Canadian winters, thus increasing the temptation to turn up the furnace (bad for the environment) and to avoid going outside (bad for your physical and mental health).
Which leads me to my list of why everyone should knit:
- It’s easy. Really, really easy. Illiterate, uneducated peasants have been doing it for at least a thousand years. You, with all the limitless power of youtube and books, can learn to do it. Don’t be overwhelmed by the apparent complexity of finished garments – it is all just variations (all of which are explained in patterns, so don’t feel like you are supposed to know them all before you start) of the same knit stitch. I do not know all the different ways to cast on, for example – I know some, have never learned many, and have forgotten a bunch too. If a pattern requires a particular cast on and does not explain it, I just look it up.
- Seriously, what else are you doing with your hands? Playing Angry Birds? We all have moments in which we must sit quietly and wait, like at the optometrist or on the subway, and we all have moments in which we want to sit on our bums and watch The Mentalist, not because it is a great show but because Simon Baker is adorable. It happens. And yes, of course you could whip out that Man Booker shortlisted book you conveniently carry about with you exactly for moments like this. I applaud you if you do. However, I can totally see you from here. That’s Angry Birds and you know it. So here is crux of the matter: spend hours playing games on your phone and you are left with carpal tunnel syndrome and a feeling of shame; spend hours knitting and you are left with a lovely cardigan. And, for those of you who really do read everything on the Man Booker shortlist, you can listen to the books on tape while you knit. And, for those who cannot resist the lure of Simon Baker, you no longer have to feel shame for watching The Mentalist. You have purpose: you are knitting. It’s not your fault if The Mentalist happens to be on at the same time.
- I must be honest. Knitting is not an inexpensive hobby. Contrary to popular belief, knitters do not knit because it is less expensive than buying knitting. Good yarn is, well, costly. However, what you will be able to produce – if you are buying good yarn and not acrylic novelty yarn (but that is another post…) – will be of a quality that you would never be able to purchase, unless you are a Kardashian.
- You have no idea, no idea at all, how deliciously warm handknit apparel and accessories can be. Warm, soft, cozy… you will look forward to the winter.
- As Sheldon Cooper notes “The entire institution of gift giving make no sense. Let’s say that I go out, and I spend 50 dollars on you, it’s a laborious activity, because I have to imagine what you need, where as you know what you need. Now I could simplify things, just give you the 50 dollars directly, and you could give me 50 dollars on my birthday, and so on, until one of us dies, leaving the other one old and 50 dollars richer. And I ask, is it worth it?”. My husband is currently engaged in a gift economy with his brother, in which they both give each other a Best Buy gift card in the exact same amount for their birthdays. This has gone on for a few years now, and I am quite sure that on at least one occasion the same gift card was passed on. Just imagine the joy that one of these brothers would experience if the other would just knit him a scarf.