Knitting has long been a skill that has been way undervalued and diminished by dismissive comments such as "women's work." I was very much taken aback recently by a friend who asked me to knit her an aran sweater and offered to pay me. I laughed a little, as I am wont to do when presented with such an "offer."
So I did a mental calculation of what hours were involved even if I agreed to do it. With design, drafting and gauging, followed by swatching and then knitting it up, it would be 150 hours + material. I told her this and as she was a friend and not a stranger I didn't add "So how much would you pay me an hour?" She merely looked at me aghast and said ruefully,"I guess no, huh?" and I nodded.
As I begin a project, I am struck always by how mathematical a skill it is with all the calculations involved. Like architecture. I reflect on my foremothers who were ill-educated if at all, and marvel at how they managed to do endless arithmetic on sizing and yarn thickness and measuring the multiple many sized bodies in their households as all winter wear was knitted then from socks to sweaters to mittens to underwear and hats. And sanitary napkins. I believe I was one of the last people on the earth to see these knitted feminine hygiene items on a clothesline when I was quite young.
I am working on a sofa throw - afghan, sofa blanket - for a nephew at the moment, and I thought to do a series of photos showing the process as I go along.
My "drawing board" i.e. dining table, where I develop the pattern. Note I use many abbreviations that only I can understand. D is for diamond, C for cables of different sizes, T is for twist, G is for Garter, etc.
A one stitch mistake can be a disaster so I double and triple check my numbers.
I evaluate my yarn colours, I am extremely fortunate in that I can visualize the whole completed colourful project in my head before I start in on the drawing board. I lay the materials on the couch in formation of how they will integrate. At times like these I miss my craft rooms which were always an integral part of previous dwellings. There I could lay everything out and walk away and close the door and get on with other things.
Then I do a swatch for measurements which involves knitting a small piece to make sure the design works.
Now I'm ready to rock and roll and start the piece with bated breath that it all works out mathematically and gauge-wise. This becomes super important in aran work as with plain borders moving into a design there is a massive increase in stitches across the work to accommodate the cabling and twisting and diamonds.
And now, yes, yay, brava, the pattern has worked out beautifully and I am on my way with the project. Just a little showing here of the honeycomb pattern which is in the middle and is tricky.
I will post a little more as I go along so you get an idea of what happens as it blossoms. And particularly, for me, the creator as it encourages me onward.
So there you have it, readers. If you have read this far, I know you will never think of the
simple complex art of knitting quite in the same way again.
Do you do any work that you believe is undervalued?