Almost three decades ago we moved into a little brick house on a tree-lined street. On a walk with my very little boy, we met the most magical family. They had tulips carved into their shutters, two babies and a house filled with laughter. From Kristin I learned to always look for fairies in the garden, that toys scattered across the floor signifies time well spent playing, to celebrate every holiday, every season, that you should always have the ingredients for chocolate cake on hand, and how to knit.
Kristin learned to knit in college and by the time I met her, she could create mittens, hats, sweaters and more, from just an idea– without patterns or instructions. I remember when little Sammie pointed out a beautiful sweater in a children’s fairytale and Kristin knit up an identical (but real!) pullover.
I wanted to learn (I wanted to be like her in every way. But I’m left-handed, dyslexic and sometimes slow with detail oriented tasks (I’m still a TERRIBLE typist).
Still, Kristin gave me the best advice, “Knit something you love” and directed me to good books and patterns. And I learned, slowly but surely, often taking apart the whole sweater and starting over. I didn’t want to bother Kristin with my endless questions because she was having another baby (and then one more!).
Just this week, Kristin published the book she wanted to give me all those years ago:
Yes! That’s my darling niece Lizzy on the cover, because Lizzy married Kristin’s youngest and (as you’ve probably figured out by now) that cute little girl in the fairytale pullover married Ben.
Although both families moved away from that tree-lined street, we kept in touch. We met for family picnics, at violin concerts, and school plays and always, always Kristin was knitting. During all those times when moms are waiting, she kept calm and busy while creating something beautiful. I learned from Kristin not to rush, to go back and fix mistakes, and always, always to knit something you love.
It’s the first advice Kristin gave me and it’s on the first page of her book, “Knit something you love.”
Too many beginning knitters start with boring hot pads or endless scarves. Kris encouraged me to knit baby sweaters, finely detailed hats, cardigans with pewter buttons. “Enjoy the process, embrace the challenges,” she taught me, “don’t just knit something because it’s fast; you’ll treasure the things that take more time.”
And she’s right. Of all the sweaters I knit in those years, it’s this red checked traditional Fana cardigan- my little boys wore one after the other- I treasure the most.
An important truth: knitting does not save you money. The Nordic Knitting Primer is a remarkable deal with 20 patterns for $20. But in general, you’ll pay $5-12 per pattern.* Needles and yarn are expensive. You can find cute sweaters for much less at Target. I recommend mittens, hats and slippers as cost effective projects and Kristin’s patterns create treasured heirlooms.
So, please, don’t look at it as a way to save money or clothe your family. Look it as a way to express your love to family members (I’ll make you a hat! Just choose the colors.), to calm yourself during times of stress, to express your own creativity and to create order out of chaos. Savor choosing beautiful patterns and gorgeous yarns in just the colors you love.
*You can find incredible patterns from all over the world on Ravelry.com.
And knitting is magical. There are only two stitches: knit and purl and yet, the variations of color and pattern are endless. In almost every pattern, there are moments when you think, “this can’t be right,” and then you gasp at the magic spun from your fingers. I’ve used the word magic twice in blog post headings in the last week and that’s on purpose. We have the privilege of creating magic in our lives and in our homes. We can be the skeptics of the world or we can embrace each day with wonder.
Knitting is faith put into action: knitting sweaters for a much-wanted baby, hats for the winter we know will come, hats for a child going on a journey. My favorite knitting story features my friend Kit who knit through years of infertility for the babies she knew would come.
Since Kristin dropped off an early copy when I was sick with Covid I’ve knit the darling Freya hat and I’m halfway through the Selbu mittens. I’m taking the time to carefully read the instructions and I’m amazed at how much I’m learning. So here’s my last bit of advice: read every word, follow every tutorial. Kristin has so much to share and she’s generously poured it into this beautiful book.
p.s. and because I want to pay it forward, I’m giving away The Nordic Knitting Primer plus the needles and yarn to create the first project to one reader. Simply comment with #knit.
p.p.s and you’ll want to follow Kristin @scandiwork on Instagram. Also, if you follow knitter (and people with babies) your Instagram feed with suddenly become much happier.