In the summer of 1999 I moved from New York City to Stuttgart, Germany. The opportunity arose from a casual conversation with one of my company’s executives about the weather. Learning that the conditions in Germany were stellar over the long Easter weekend, compared with the damp chill in New York City, this colleague commented that I might be better served working in the Stuttgart headquarters. A few months later I was making the move.
My time in Stuttgart had its up and downs – the downs being largely a feeling of isolation, as I only knew a handful of my colleagues and had no other connections in my new home. But I made a few very lovely friends, one of whom was a woman hired on in the office about 9 months or so after I’d arrived. Many days she’d bring her knitting to the office, and, as mentioned in an earlier post here, I’d first thought it sort of a quaint throw-back. But when I’d see her wearing the items she’d been working on weeks earlier, I became more impressed with the skill involved as well as with the idea of having a pastime that resulted in such beautiful garments. She graciously offered to teach me, gave me some leftover yarn from her projects and needles, and I got started on what turned out to be a very long, very colorful, uneven, kinda kooky scarf.
It’s a great reminder of my early knitting days, and I still wear it with great pride.
Because I learned to knit from a German friend, I knit Continental style, which suits me wonderfully, as I’m left-handed. I like the control I have in holding the working yarn in my left hand. If I’d have learned the English/American method, I’m not sure I would have taken to it as readily.
After moving back to New York City in February 2001, I started frequenting the unfortunately now defunct shop, called The Yarn Tree, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. There, the wonderful proprietress, Linda LaBelle, taught a class that was also highly valuable to my evolution as a knitter. It was a sock and mitten class, which introduced me to the proper method of knitting in the round. I had been doing it completely backwards, knitting along the inside of the piece. When Linda pointed out my error, I was at first very defensive, but then quickly realized that I was no expert, and it’s best to heed the wisdom of the experts if I truly wanted to improve my skills. It was an important lesson from a very patient teacher, and I’m forever grateful to her for gently driving that lesson home. She still sells online at www.theyarntree.com and has done wonderful works in sharing her deep knowledge of fibers and dying with women in impoverished communities the world over, giving them a means to earn income they hadn’t had before.
And she showed me the light when it came to knitting in the round, and my first pair of socks and first pair of mittens turned out pretty darn good because of her.