history of a fiber fanatic
Through the years I’ve dabbled in a wide variety of arts and/or crafts, the majority of them various types of needlework. For as long as I can remember, I have gravitated towards things I could create with my hands.
I learned to knit when I was probably about 9. There was an older couple who lived down the hill from us who were like a third set of grandparents. They had immigrated from Czechoslovakia, a country where young girls in those days were taught needlework in school. So, Teta (Czech for “aunt”) taught me to knit the continental way, as she had learned as a child. I still have the little red wool pullover vest I made and I think my mom still has the mohair stole I made for her for Christmas after that. The stole turned out to be a little bit small, but she wore it anyway.
I started sewing about that same time. I basically taught myself to sew. My mother could sew, but was wise enough to know that if she tried a hands-on approach to teaching me, we would likely end up killing each other. (Strong willed? Me? You must be thinking of someone else. ) So, I started out by just following the pattern instructions, step by step. The sewing machine cabinet sat in front of a window, so I would pin the large instruction sheet to the curtain and just work through the steps. I wish I still had the first outfit I made for myself. It was a shirt and shorts that I wore on the last day of school that year. That was the only day we were allowed to wear shorts.
Through the years I’ve worked through all the typical types of needlework – counted cross-stitch, needlepoint, embroidery, crochet, needle punch, rug hooking. In college, my textile classes included weaving, bobbin lace, batiks, fabric stenciling and I’m sure more that I’m not thinking of right now. I’ve also done macramé, basket weaving and pottery. (I still have a kiln in storage I haven’t used in years.)
Through it all, the two things that have stayed with me the longest has been knitting and quilting. In the late 70s into the mid 80s, I did a lot of knitting. I made sweaters for my extended family and for myself. Then, along came the quilting resurgence and I found myself drawn into that. I spent all of the 90s immersed in quilting of all sorts. At first, I was a hand quilter (although piecing by machine) until machine quilting became more “accepted” in the quilting world. Then, I got my first BERNINA machine and was finally successful with free motion quilting. I haven’t done much hand quilting since.
My sewing life took a significant turn when I went to work for a fabric store that was also a BERNINA dealer. I think I was probably hired because of my quilting background, but it wasn’t long before I became quite drawn to machine embroidery and the design software to go with it. Computers had always fascinated me, so the combination of sewing and computers was irresistible.
Now, I find myself pulled back to knitting. The recent surge in the popularity of knitting and the availability of quality yarns and patterns that has resulted has caught my attention and sparked my imagination. It all started when some internet friends were talking about some self-striping sock yarn. I didn’t know such a thing existed! Well, I just had to try that. So, I ordered a few balls of Lion Brand Magic Stripes and followed the sock pattern on the label. Soon, I was online, finding more and more variety in sock yarns and downloading sock patterns to try. I’ve made dozens of pairs of socks, many given away as gifts, and I nearly always have a pair on the needles. They are the perfect take-along project. Since rediscovering knitting, I’ve also made many sweaters for myself and for family as well as a variety of shawls, scarves, hat, mittens, etc.