My Story – How I Learned to Knit and Sew
We all have a unique story about how we learned our craft. And if you don’t have that story yet, if you’re only starting your knitting and/or sewing hobby, I hope you find this post interesting and useful, and you go ahead and start creating your own story!
In this post, I will tell you how I learned to knit and sew, and what my knitting and sewing journey has been like since then. Nowadays, there are more active times when I get a lot done, and less active times when I simply don’t have enough time to plan or execute any projects. And, occasionally, when I do have the time, I just won’t feel like doing anything crafty, or I just simply don’t have the energy to knit or sew. But that’s life, and I still consider myself a knitter and a sewist even if I’m not the most prolific of makers. And that’s how I would want you to feel too! In fact, I claim that if you give yourself a bit of time between projects, you will also have more time to think about your next project, and end up with garments or other items that you will actually wear and use. But that’s a topic for another post. For now, let's stick to my knitting and sewing story!
The early years
Initially I learned the very basics of knitting from my mom before we were taught to knit at school. My mom taught me how to cast on stitches, how to knit, and possibly even how to purl, but I can’t remember being very successful at any of that. I certainly didn’t become a knitter at this stage. I can remember how awkward it felt to even hold the needles and try to stop the stitches from dropping form the needles. And it is totally understandable that I struggled. After all, knitting is a practical activity that requires motor skills, and eventually muscle memory for anyone to become successful at it and without it being too much of a strain on your hands, arms and shoulders. No wonder my about 7-year-old self found the whole thing a bit too much to handle.
It was a couple years later that we were introduced to the basics of knitting at elementary school. That’s when I think I knit my first successful item. My memory does play tricks on me, but I do think this doll, pictured below, is one of the first things I ever knit. I have heard from people around the same age as I am, that they had to knit a pair of socks or mittens at elementary school here in Finland, but somehow, I apparently was able to skip that, and knit a doll instead. I suppose the kind of projects pupils were expected to make varied greatly depending on what the teacher decided to teach. I don’t know how, but I managed to escape knitting a pair of socks or mittens even in junior high.
As for sewing, I learned that in elementary school, too. We were taught the basics of how to use a sewing machine, and had to pass a test that was called ‘the sewing license’. Basically, it was just to prove that we could sew a straight line and curved lines with the machine, before we were allowed to endeavor into sewing any actual items. The nightie pictured below is one of my first sewn garments. Yeah, the stitching is a bit wonky, but I must have been really proud of this one since I decided to keep it. Sadly, I have gotten rid of some other projects I completed during elementary school.
I don’t think we had a sewing machine at home before I was in junior high school. That’s when I began to develop my love for sewing, and pursue it as a hobby of some sort. A very sporadic hobby, but a hobby all the same. I would always put schoolwork first. But I do remember I sewed my confirmation dress when I was 14. It was an unlined, sleeveless blush pink shift dress with a zipper at the back, and it must have been the first zip I ever inserted in a garment. I don’t have that dress anymore, and I have no idea why. Now I would love it if I had kept more of my me-mades. So, keep that in mind along your crafty journey! It may end up being incredibly valuable at some point if you have kept at least some of your handmade items.
In my teen years, I was asked to sew a pair of curtains for my cousin. Later, I heard the length between the two curtains wasn't exactly the same, but I remember seeing them hang from the windows of my cousin’s apartment regardless of that. There were even more unsuccessful projects, such as one pair of pants I promised to sew for my mom. They were never even finished because I ruined the fabric by being too fierce with the seam ripper!
So, these were the early stages of my knitting and sewing journey. Through my teen years I must have sewn more things than I can recall now, but I’m pretty sure that knitting took a back seat for many years after comprehensive school.
In my twenties
It was in my early twenties when I developed more interest in knitting. By then, I had certainly forgotten how to cast on, and how to purl. So I had to start almost from scratch. I think my first project at this stage was a red cabled scarf, and, thinking about it now, I’m surprised that I chose a pattern with cables considering I basically had to teach myself to knit all over again. But I did finish the scarf and wore it proudly.
In my early twenties, I also started studying tourism, and I was pretty much the same as I had been all throughout comprehensive school and senior high school as for how I spent my time – I was extremely dedicated to schoolwork and wanted to be successful in my studies, so I only spent a limited time on my creative pursuits. After the first year of studies I also started working part time, so that took up time left from studying. Needless to say, I didn’t really develop a consistent habit of knitting, or other crafty activities, but they were possibly more on my mind than ever before.
The real turning point in many ways happened somewhere around seven or eight years ago. I had finished my studies and was working crazy shifts. I craved for a change and more creativity in my life. I started spending more time especially knitting, but also sewing. I sometimes even took my knitting projects to work and knit on them when all necessary duties were done and when there were no customers. I admired one co-worker for being able to finish so many handmade items, and asked her what her secret was. You know what she said? She said she doesn’t watch TV. Man, back then I used to watch a lot more TV than I do now, and it was hard sometimes to let go of that time spent on the couch and be creative instead. But I gradually started spending more time knitting and sewing. I remember saying to my boyfriend, now partner, that I have found my purpose in life. I found knitting and sewing so satisfying!
And it was only after I had met my boyfriend, that I actually knit my first ever pair of socks - for him of course. Here's a picture of my first ever sock, which was supposed to become the first ever pair of socks for my boyfriend, but I only knit one because it was too big, and I had no clue about gauge back then.
Ok, so after the realization of the purpose of my life (sounds grand, but that’s how I felt), I sent an email to a yarn store in the hopes of them needing a helping hand. Much to my surprise, they replied that they indeed would love for someone to help out at the shop and also over at their distributor business which was located in the same premises. I went to the interview and got the job! I was over the moon about it, and I still feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to work at a yarn store and see the distributor side of the business. I worked there for about two years, and during that time I learned so much about materials, knitting patterns, knitting terminology, and knitting in general. This experience was truly golden.
But then I realized I wanted to study more. Before my tourism degree, I had applied to university to study English, but back then I didn’t have the right mindset to study a good amount of hours every day for months to pass the entrance exam. During this time, I also started realizing that I would possibly want to combine my love for languages and crafts in my future job. I figured I could do it via becoming a teacher. So, I applied again. Twice.
So now I’m in my thirties, and I have been an English Philology student for almost five years (although I stayed at home to take care of my daughter for about 18 months of that time). Now I'm finishing my teacher studies and during the next academic year, I will be concentrating on one of my minor subjects, craft science. I’m still convinced that combining my love for languages and crafts is what I want to do in life, so now I’ve started my own business, Knitlish & Sew, to help you create your personalized wardrobe that includes both sewn and hand-knit garments.
One thing I would like you to take with you from this post, if you’re at the beginning of your knitting and/or sewing journey, is that you try to be consistent with your hobby. Looking back at my journey, I wish I had been more consistent with mine. Of course, it’s easy to say that now, even when my life currently is a juggling act (don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have it any other way!), but it would have brought more balance in my life and I would be a far more skillful knitter and sewist than I currently am. I’m being completely honest here, I do not consider myself an ultimate expert, but I’m confident in saying that I do know enough to be of help for others who are just starting out.
So, try to stay consistent, but at the same time, I don’t want you to feel that you need to force yourself to be creative. It’s totally fine, if at times you feel you don’t want to or you don't have the energy to lift a needle. As I said earlier in the post, for me, there are more prolific and less prolific times, and that’s just life. Here at Knitlish & Sew, I will create content that I hope to help you stay consistent, focused, organized and improve your skills on your knitting and sewing journey.
Now I’d like to ask you what your knitting and/or sewing story is like? Or are you just starting out? Is there something specific you need help with in your craft journey? Go ahead and write a comment, I’d love to hear from you!