Welcome to day one of Knitting and Crochet Blog week! If you missed it, there is more information about the event here. If you’re a member of Ravelry, there is also more information (and a list of participants!) on the group The Blog Hub. Every day this week, I’ll be writing a post on various aspects of knitting/crocheting. To search for other posts participating, search “knitcoblo1” in Google and similar. That will give you posts about today’s prompt:

How and when did you begin knitting/crocheting? was it a skill passed down through generations of your family, or something you learned from Knitting For Dummies? What or who made you pick up the needles/hook for the first time? Was it the celebrity knitting ‘trend’ or your great aunt Hilda?

When I was ten or eleven, my mother taught me to crochet. I say she taught me, but what I mean is that she showed me how to make a slip knot and how to pull the yarn through the loop to make a chain stitch. She couldn’t remember how to do the rest. Since all you can make with a chain stitch and a pre-teen set on creating is a bunch of shoe laces, she bought me a learn-to-crochet kit from Michael’s for Christmas. She bought my sister a learn-to-knit kit from the same company because although my sister expressed no interest in the craft, you can’t buy a gift for an 11-year-old without getting a similar or equivalent thing for her 9-year-old sister unless you want a screaming fit. It took several weeks to convince my sister that she should let me have her Christmas present, even though, of the two of us, I was the only one even vaguely interested in yarn, but in the end, I was successful.

I borrowed books from the library and taught myself the rest of the crochet stitches. I made myself a big stuffed pig out of stiff, scratchy Red Heart acrylic. I didn’t know how to embroider, so I never gave it eyes. I loved it for a little while, mostly out of pride that I finished crocheting it, but then I cast it off to the foot of my bed, where it got squashed between the foot of the bed and the mattress, with all of the other stuffed animals and blankets I didn’t want anymore but couldn’t get rid of (there’s a surprising amount of room down there).

Shortly after I won the learn-to-knit kit from my sister, I taught myself to cast on, knit, and bind off. I bought all the furry, fuzzy novelty yarn I could get my hands on and made garter stitch scarves for anyone who would take one from me (my best friend still wears the one I gave her for Christmas in tenth grade). It was several years later before I got the hang of the purl stitch and could make anything except big, fuzzy scarves.

When I started college (the August before last; I’m just finishing up my second year this week), I brought with me a collection of odd balls of cheap acrylic, all of the crochet hooks I owned, and several pairs of thick knitting needles. I mostly crocheted, I figured, and I wouldn’t need my entire 30-odd collection of yard sale and thrift store straight needles.

Oh, how wrong I was.

I joined Ravelry on August 27, 2008 (according to my profile page). The sudden access to what seemed like all of the knitting patterns on the Internet with the ability to search (and see thumbnails!) convinced me that A, I needed to learn to purl, and B, my collection of yarn and needles was sorely inadequate.

My first knitting project (with purls!) was the Mrs. Darcy Cardigan. Yes, the one in one size that’s rife with errors and curly curly fronts.

I had some black wool from the thrift store and some 5 mm needles. I did not make a gauge swatch and instead dove right in and tried my best to purl. It did not go so well. I didn’t get the hang of it until about two inches into the stockinette, so the back of the sweater looked like this:

Still, I was too stubborn to frog, so I plugged away at it. The yarn I had for the fronts of the sweater was a mess of short ends, which I tied together and knitted (I didn’t know about moths then but thankfully, none of my other stash has been affected by this stupidity). I finished the sweater, sans sleeves, which I didn’t have enough yarn for. I wore it exactly once. It fit, technically, but it was too short (the pattern, not my fault–it’s written to be quite short), and it didn’t stay put.

My first knitting project was a sweater, and since then, I have not been intimidated by patterns with techniques I don’t know. I dive fearlessly into lace, colorwork, and cables (which I taught myself to knit using a tutorial on my BlackBerry while I walked the mile and a half to the public library). I cast on with abandon, knowing I can conquer any difficult parts of the pattern so long as I try.

Most knitters I know learned to knit (and purl) with dishcloths or scarves or other rectangular items. I believe this makes them more easily intimidated by things like lace or colorwork. I say, dive right in. Knit something because you love it, not because you want to practice.

You can always frog it (or felt it, which is to eventually be the fate of my vest) later.