I went for a walk this morning. This doesn’t sound noteworthy, and normally it wouldn’t be, but my kids and I have been trading off being sick and I haven’t been able to get out and walk on the trail by my house for 17 days. (Thank you, Nike+ app.) This morning, though, I did.
Brenda Dayne’s Cast-On podcast came with me this morning. In her most recent episode she was talking about Wovember. She’s having a giveaway of some her handspun Shetland yarn. For the giveaway you are supposed to share your first knitting experience with 100% wool yarn and that got me thinking about my knitting experience. I considered posting it in her giveaway but I can’t use her (presumably) beautiful handspun wool yarn so I’m just going to talk about it here.
I started knitting to save money. Those of you who knit or crochet and buy yarn know that this is an incredibly foolish thing to say. When my first son was about a year old I participated in an online discussion forum for cloth diapering. I know, it sounds ridiculous but it was very useful for learning about all the fancy kinds of cloth diapers there were and techniques for keeping everything clean. Several of the women who posted there sold handknit wool diaper covers and pants. They were so cute it hurt me. They’re a lot of work, though, and they charged for that work (as they should) so I decided I’d learn to knit instead. Also, my friend Pam was teaching an online knitting class which included use of her pattern, or something like that. I blame Pam, really, it was her conviction that I could do it that got me to jump into knitting.
Once I figured out that I was twisting all of my stitches and I got the hang of not holding on to the yarn with a death grip it went pretty well. Since I was knitting soakers, all of my knitting was with 100% wool yarn. My particular favorite yarn was Marr Haven which is one of the woolier of the wool yarns. It is, as they say, close to the sheep.
Now, when I was growing up on the East Coast I hardly ever wore wool. If I wore wool it was with a turtleneck shirt underneath so that the wool didn’t touch me. Even merino sweaters felt uncomfortable to me so I went to great pains to avoid having it touch my skin. You would think this would have been a clue to me that holding it for many hours of the day might not be a wise choice. But no.
After about a year of knitting I started having “mysterious hives”. I put that in quotes because it really shouldn’t have been that mysterious. I started taking Claritin and just kept on knitting with wool and wool blends until one day my asthma was wildly out of control. I put away all the wool, went on my serious asthma medications, got it under control and have pretty much not looked back. Once or twice I’ve decided that I could handle wool for “just one project” and been proven wrong every time.
That is my relationship with wool. I don’t like the way it feels but I love the way it takes color and it can be so lovely to knit with but I just can’t. When these wool promoting events like Wovember come up, I just feel sorry for myself. I feel somewhat of a disconnection with most knitters because I can’t share in their joy of most yarns and the yarns I like most knitters dislike because cotton is hard on the hands and bamboo is high maintenance, etc.
Occasionally I fantasize that what they say about your body changing completely every seven years is true and one day I’ll wake up and not be allergic to wool anymore. I’m not sure how I’ll find out though. In the meanwhile, please don’t rub your wool projects on me. You know who you are.