The first thing I ever knitted was a misshapen square of garter stitch. Using my grandmother's old blue aluminum needles, I followed directions in my room alone to cast on and knit. The piece was never finished, as I didn't know how to bind off and didn't actually have the patience to learn. The stitches were wonky, tight in some places, holey in others. I had somehow increased several stitches along one side and it was wholly imperfect... I loved it.
I tacked the swatch to my wall, where it hung in its variegated Christmas colored acrylic glory and I cast on for my next project right away. I was 14 then, and had no idea what life had in store for me. Knitting-like scrapbooking, jewelry-making, writing and drawing- was another phase I was going through. Or so I thought.
Through my high school years I continued knitting: hats, sweaters, scarves decorated with aliens and initials. I knit through college. Through the births of two babies. Through thick and through thin. I moved my boxes (and boxes and boxes) of yarn and knitting books with me 10 times, and moved on from stumbling along with designers to modifying designs and then to inventing my own.
I look back now at that misshapen square of garter stitch (Yes, I still have it) and wonder if I had any idea. I know I didn't. Anymore than I knew that the boy I was dating wasn't The One and that I wouldn't be able to drink normally or that I would always regret not paying more attention to algebra. I had no idea that knitting would be my constant companion. Knitting would save my life. Knitting would keep my spirit alive, keep me awake during boring college lectures, provide me with entertainment during social engagements, give me "free" presents when I was low on cash and even providing me with cash for my skills with the needles.
Sometimes I'm working on a sweater front and I'll smooth it out on my lap, admire its neat stitching, check that everything is in order, and then hold it up to myself. A practice in visualization, I can imagine every detail in the finished object. How wearing it will make me look sophisticated, or cozy, or sharp, or like a model leaning just so. It's a kind of magic that, as I pick up the work and continue on, keeps me going through the long torso, stitch by stitch.
That's the thing about knitting that I really love- or one of them anyway. Every thing you create is just made one stitch at a time. It's sort of like a metaphor for life. One day at a time, you follow the same steps and some day it is complete and, like my first object perhaps there are mistakes. Perhaps there are holes or it is misshapen or it ended abruptly but it is something you made and you should be proud.