Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Loom knitting is easy to pick up in an afternoon for practically anyone of any age, and a very fast way to make yourself winter clothes. Unfortunately, those facts are easy to forget when you’ve been knitting your first hat for seven hours straight. My mother can make a hat in two hours. I’d started knitting that morning at ten o’ clock, and the winter sun was sinking behind the trees and I still wasn’t finished.
That morning, my mother had handed me her selection of round looms — dull yellow, red, and green squatting inside each other like Russian nesting dolls — and told me to hold them on my head and see which fit. (The loom should be a little bigger than the hat needs to be, because the hat will shrink.)
She showed me how to wrap yarn around the loom’s pegs—from back to front, around to the next one, around and around and around. When she’d finished the first row, she handed the loom to me and said, “You try.”
I pressed down the last row she’d done and wrapped another row above that. It was rather fun — letting my fingertips glide across the smooth yarn, a rhythmic, graceful motion.
The next step, the actual knitting, was also pretty easy — I slid my mother’s Very Important Hook under the bottom row of yarn and moved it to the other side of the peg. This wasn’t so bad, I decided.
Once I’d practiced a few rows, my mother said that we had to unravel this whole hat and start over. I didn’t understand until she told me to look at the hat closely. It rather resembled a fishnet. I unraveled the hat and started over.
This time I used two pieces of yarn, tied together at one end. We were basically treating them as one bulky yarn, but when using two different colors of yarn, you must decide which color is going to be above the other and then keep it there. Simply put: two-ply (as it’s called) wrapping is a pain, and the main reason why it took me seven hours to knit my first hat.
At five o’ clock, we were in the home stretch. The hat was almost finished; I had only to weave the top together. At this point my mother introduced a new weapon: the Very Important Needle, which was small and neon blue. I threaded it with the tails of the yarn, and wove it through the top loops of yarn as I lifted them off the pegs, thus making a drawstring bag with no bottom.
I was about to tie the ends of the yarn together and finish the hat when my mother said, “Wait. Do you want to add a heart charm?” She explained that she’d bought a box of them when she first started knitting, and tied them to the inside of each hat she’d made, to signify that they’d been made with love.
I agreed, and she slid a tiny gold heart onto the yarn. We tied it off and sheared off the excess, and just like that, I had my first hat.
I was elated. Admittedly I was relieved that the knitting was finally over, but there was also a great sense of accomplishment. It was a hat, and I had made it! I showed my father, and did a victory dance.
My verdict was that it’s fairly easy to learn how to knit, and you can do so in an afternoon. And once you’ve mastered it, you have no end of winter clothes for all the years to come.
Photos by Mom, Wendy.