This isn't a meme, exactly. More like a request for information. Since "Where I Knit" went so well, I thought I'd try this again. And like last time, if you take part, drop me a link so I'm sure to see it, and if I don't leave a comment, that means I haven't been there yet. Give me a kick and send me another link.
Today's topic? Where and when I learned to knit, and how, and what I did then.
My first memory of noticing knitting is from grade school (under age ten public school). I was riding the bus from school to home (don't ask me how I remember it was afternoon and not morning, but I do), and the girl in front of me was wearing a jacket or cardigan knit at a rather large gauge. I think it was a Cowichan knock-off, but I wouldn't swear to it. (Cowichan knitting is the only traditional knitting from N America, produced by native Americans in the Pacific NW.) At any rate, I remember looking at it and thinking "That looks like loops pulled through loops." and wanting to know exactly how to do it.
Wanting to know how (and why) is sort of the defining urge of my life. (In case you guys hadn't noticed, with the suggested reading lists.) That desire to learn to knit stuck with me, even though no one in my family knew how to knit, and ten million crochet lessons from my grandmother failed to stick in my head and I produced nothing but a mile-long chain.
During my last year of high school and my first year of college (1987-1989ish) I was dating a guy whose family sprang from Mennonite farmers. (We're still friends... Hi, Twa, if you're reading.) One evening I mentioned my desire to knit, and he said, "Shoot, my mother can teach you that." (Or something to that effect.) So one evening his mother sat me down and showed me a knitted cast-on, knit stitches, and purl stitches. It took about half an hour. (As I recall, after that we all fought over the mac and cheese leftovers, but that might have been another evening.)
That's it for my formal knitting education.
After that, I checked out every book in the library on the subject (this being Amish farm country, we had quite a few knitting books in the local library -- particularly for the size of the library). I discovered Barbara Walker's treasuries and spent about six months knitting squares of every pattern that looked interesting, with acrylic yarn from the Woolworth's and some aluminum knitting needles. I'd knit a square and throw it away. They weren't good for anything (because I, as a novice dumbass, didn't think of SEWING THEM TOGETHER).
Somewhere in the middle of all that, I moved to Columbus and the local library there was both huge and welcoming. And I found charted doily patterns (Marianne Kinzel's books). I bought a ton of crochet cotton and some size 2/3mm needles at the local knit shop, and proceeded to knit lace. That was in 1990.
I knit lace.
Then I knit some lace.
In 1998, I broke my hand. In 2000, after two surgeries, my physical therapist agreed that knitting would be good for me, so I started knitting again after two years off. That year I knit fourteen doilies (some of them two feet across) all on my trusty size twos, blocked them, and mailed them out instead of Christmas cards. It's still rather strange to walk into the house of one of my parent's friends and see one of my doilies.
Around 2001, I was finally getting bored with the lace knitting, and decided if I was going to knit as physical therapy forever, the least I could do was start producing clothing. So I bought some Brown Sheep Sport and knit Elizabeth Zimmerman's Chainmail Sweater from "Knitter's Almanac".
Since I'd begun my career, so to speak, reading EZ, I was rather lax about the idea of patterns, and finally quit following them altogether and did my own designs.
And here we are.
What about you?
EDITED TO ADD: For those curious about the hand problem/knitting relationship. I've always been very careful to avoid hand problems while knitting - if I noticed holding my hands a certain way made them hurt, I would adjust my technique until it didn't. It was the broken bones (between two and twenty; the doctors and I disagree on what constitutes 'broken') and the additional nerve damage that created the problem. However, these days if I overdo the knitting, it agravates my injuries and I have to take a couple days off. (Mostly my problem is muscle strain - they spasam and my fingers twitch uncontrollably.) The knitting DOES help as physical therapy, even now; when I was pregnant, I was off all my pain medication and couldn't concentrate well enough to knit. By the end of the year, my hand was weak and I'd lost a great deal of fine motor coordination (to the point I got sent off to the hand specialist by a worried GP). Once I started knitting again, I regained most of my fine motor control within about six months. I had to build up to long days of knitting, just like working out; at first I could only knit for about fifteen minutes before the muscles would spasm. Now I can go about two hours.