I’ve been knitting since I was 8 years old. Before then, I did finger weaving, and I even had a knitting spool. There’s something magical about knitting that keeps drawing me back to it. My first project was a brown scarf. My friend’s mom patiently showed me how to knit, sent me along my way, and several days later, I had a lopsided, but very cozy, brown scarf to show for my efforts. And I never looked back. Being autistic, I loved the repetitive motion of knitting, and the very simple rules it followed.
My mom bought me a book called “Kids Knitting” by Melanie Falick, and I delved into the projects outlined in the book. I made scarves for all my beanie babies with scrap yarn around the house. I made a patchwork of squares for a blanket. I made more scarves for people that were considerably less lopsided. I discovered how to purl, and then how to combine purling and knitting. I made hats. I learned how to knit in the round. I made huge bedspread sized blankets. I made a spiral rug. But the thing is, to me, knitting is about comfort. It’s about repeating the same stitch over and over and over and over again. Constantly going back and forth across the knitted surface, adding more and more yarn into the mix. It is akin to magic.
My favorite projects are hats, knit in the round, where after a few rows of ribbing, I can just let go and knit in circles until I reach the desired length. I’m not into complex, complicated patterns or shapes. I’ve tried, and while I’m capable of making them, that isn’t what knitting is really about for me. I know some more advanced knitters get bored with simple patterns and go looking for more complex things to make. I’m not like that. For me, knitting is about comfort, about simply sitting and working the thread into stitches. About counting stitches in sets of ten as I go back and forth along the needles. It’s not about making complex projects. For me, knitting is not really a creative outlet. It’s a stim.
When I was a kid, I used to sit with my latest project, and read my way through “Kids Knitting” – one syllable per stitch. Just me, the book, and the knitting – it was a way to escape the crazy world I lived in and just calm down. I could sit for hours doing this, hyper-focused and just concentrating on the knitting. I made it pretty far a few times, but invariably, I’d stop knitting for a few weeks or months, lose my place, and start over. I know the first 30 or so pages of that book by heart. Comfort, repetitive movement, soft string – what else could you ask for in a stim?
Like all knitters, I do have a few preferences. I was gifted my grandmother’s old knitting needles, but unfortunately, they’re metal. I can’t use metal needles – they’re cold and they make a horrid clink sound. I can tolerate plastic needles, but my favorite type of needle is bamboo. The soft “click” they make occasionally is tolerable, even likable. But I’m pretty good at knitting without the loud “click…click…click” and scraping noise that often accompanies it. The click distracts me from the comfort and joy of it all. Distracts me from the back and forth, the yarn, the fabric that I’m making.
As many of you regular readers know, I’ve been pretty sick for a few months, and unfortunately, it’s not getting much better. At some point when I have more answers, I might update more, but for now, I’ll just say I’ve been to the doctors more times in the past 2 months than in the past 5 years combined. I’ve been poked and prodded and tested and we still only have a few answers. It’s really scary when your body is failing and you can’t do anything about it. And since I’ve been running on such low energy, I’ve picked up my knitting projects again, and it reminded me just how awesome, calming, comforting, and in some cases, necessary knitting really is for me. It is calming, comforting, and I can just do the same thing, over and over and over again. And at the end, I have something beautiful and worthwhile.
And as such, I’ve been working on a new project that I wanted to show off a little to you all – fingerless gloves. I have an amazing friend who has been helping me out a lot with these health issues, and I made her these fingerless gloves (and a matching hat) to help keep her hands warm. We both have pretty horrible circulation in our hands, and so fingerless gloves are very useful, since they keep your hands and arms warm without obstructing the fingers so you can still type and such. The gloves (which I’ve pictured here – and yes, that’s me) are my own pattern. I’ve been looking for a pattern that worked for me for a long time, and finally just decided to give it a go and make my own. I’m still perfecting it, but if you’re interested, I’ve created a PDF that has my pattern and some commentary about it – you can email me and I’ll send it to you. Once I finalize the pattern a little more, I’ll put it up as a blog post of its own.
EDITED 12/31/2013: By popular demand, I am now selling my knitted goods. If you’re interested in supporting me, please check out my Etsy Store, called “StimmyKnitting“