And now for the second half of the tale of how I was transformed from a casual, occasional yarncrafter into the consumed, obsessed knitter I am today.
It was only a couple of weeks after I had so tragically lost my laptop (see previous post) that Brendon, my Navy husband, received his PCS orders. For the non-military folks out there, that is "Permanent Change of Station" - it means he's coming to the end of his stay on the ship he's been on for the last two and a half years, and these orders tell him where he's going next. At the moment, he is stationed in Norfolk, VA, on a great big Marine-taxi type of ship, and in February he will be stationed in Jacksonville, FL, on a little tiny Frigate. But in between then and now, he has to go to a 3-month-long school on how to run a jet engine (because that's what powers destroyers, apparently) in Newport, RI. As for me, I am not all that strongly tied to Virginia; my family is far away, I only have a couple of close friends here, and my job is only part-time. Which means, in short, that I decided to go to Newport with him. From November until February. And I hear Rhode Island tends to be a bit chilly during the winter time. (Then moving to Florida for the following summer? I guess the Navy has a sense of humor after all!)
Timing is everything. In the wake of the laptop's death, my restless fingers plus my trepidation toward the frigid winter ahead led me to start browsing the internet for free patterns for hats, scarves, mittens, etc. During this initial search, I came across Knitty more than once, and while intrigued, I was not quite yet captivated by it - remember, I was still just knitting and purling, none of that advanced stuff. But I was struck by an adorable pattern at Lion Brand's website - the "Quick Cabled Hat" (I think you have to be a member of Lion Brand to use that link, but it's free!) - and I went out and bought my first cable needles. Ta da!
Ok, in the picture, the "ears" look a little wonky, but with a little grooming they do stand up properly. It's made with a chunky alpaca/cashmere blend I found at A.C. Moore, which, yes, is one of those giant mega-craft stores. I had not yet learned the bounty of goodness to be found at LYS, nor what those initials even stood for. I had, actually, never even heard the term. Sad, isn't it? But with this little hat, I felt such a sense of accomplishment, such a feeling of "That was easier than I thought!" - I was really hooked. The hat needed matching mittens, a scarf, and it began to snowball out of control.
The mittens are when I really discovered the wonders of Knitty, when I used their Fetching fingerless gloves and added my own thumb and mitten caps and a couple of buttons to turn them into convertible mittens. The scarf came out of a book I bought at Barnes & Noble at that time - Debbie Stoller's The Happy Hooker. (Yes, I crocheted a scarf to match knitted hat and mittens... So what?) And all those free internet patterns I had printed out became not possible projects I might consider doing, but a schedule. A few sweaters even slipped in there - I felt ready.
The more I learned of the knitting culture, the further in I felt myself drawn. I bought the rest of Stoller's books. I visited two of Virginia Beach's yarn stores. I joined the mailing list for not only Knitty, but also Crochet Me and MagKnits - and browsed their archives of patterns and articles. I started reading the famous Yarn Harlot blog. Since July, I have made the aforementioned hat/scarf/mittens set, plus a copy of each for an envious friend; an additional hat and scarf pair; a crocheted bracelet bag with one of those big ol' crochet roses sewed on it for a wedding I attended; and two complete sweaters - the Jolly Roger from The Happy Hooker and Lion Brand's Mystery Sweater. And my plans for upcoming projects are probably not actually attainable in one single lifetime.
The thing is, while it started out being centered on Newport and the cold weather, I don't expect the mania I'm experiencing will die down after I leave the Northeast. I think about the imminent move to Florida, and I want to experiment with a whole different breed of fiber - not just cotton, but silk, maybe soy and bamboo... This is one of the first summer projects I intend to make.
My husband thinks I'm a lunatic.
By the way, tomorrow I intend to start posting permanent links on this blog.