So your friend is a knitter. Whether this is a new hobby, or something established before your friendship began, these are things your knitting friend needs you to know to make your friendship run a little smoother…
1. If she’s sitting, she’s knitting, and even if she’s stood about waiting for something, there’s a good chance she’ll be knitting too. If she’s not, she wants to be.
If your friend has nothing in her hands, she feels incomplete. Her absolute worst nightmare (which has happened to every knitter) is to find herself in a waiting room, unexpectedly, and not to have her knitting with her. She will go out to get milk at 10pm to the shop 5 minutes from the house and she will take her knitting, not because she’s planning on stopping somewhere, but because you never know. It’s nothing to worry about. If it helps, remember that to her, knitting is the equivalent of a crossword or jigsaw puzzle, with the benefit that she can give the completed version to a loved one and people don’t think she’s a dick. This leads on to…
2. She ‘rips’ or ‘frogs’ her beautiful creations more readily than you think is sensible.
This is when your friend has been working on something, it may even be complete, but it isn’t quite right, so she unravels the whole thing and winds it back into a ball of yarn. You are horrified, you may or may not be able to see the flaw she sees in her work, but she spent hours knitting that! How can she destroy it with such abandon?! Firstly, remember that to her, it’s the equivalent of a really good crossword, so she doesn’t necessarily mind getting to do it again. Better that than ending up with something which doesn’t fit quite right, or has that one flaw which will bug her every time she sees it. Secondly, if she’s that much of a perfectionist, she’s knitting with the good stuff, and that shit can get surprisingly expensive.
3. Every time you see her, she’s knitting something different.
What is up with that? Is she really knitting that fast? No. Your knitting friend lives somewhere along the ADHD spectrum, which is why she knits, because she can’t bear to leave her hands idle for more than about five seconds. There’s also a whole delayed gratification issue, which just isn’t her bag at all. She’ll start a project, say, that cute owl sweater, because she’s promised she’ll knit for herself more (more on that in a minute). Then she finds out that her lovely neighbour is pregnant, so after an enjoyable 4 hours spent trawling the endless Ravelry database, she’s found an easy and quick pattern for a cute pair of bootees, and those knit up quickly, so she’s done in an evening. But she saw some nice stuff while looking for baby patterns, and now wants to make a gorgeous dress for her daughter who has grown out of the last dress she knit. She looks for the right yarn (it’s a bigger project than the bootees, so she isn’t likely to have enough in her stash) and while looking, she’ll buy a few skeins of yarn in lovely colours, that feels so soft, so she’ll start searching Ravelry for a good project to use it for. Now it’s the end of the school term, so after hours of searching, she find the perfect things to knit for all the teachers, teaching assistants and other deserving school employees. A new movie comes out, her youngest daughter is obsessed with a certain character, so she knits it up. She’s given a new funky book of knitting patterns, and starts one, just for fun. A new knitting catalogue comes out with a pattern so divine, she orders it right away, and can’t resist starting it straight away. A friend is unexpectedly hospitalised, she knits a macabre gift to cheer up her oddball buddy. The teacher’s daughter is ill, teacher is upset and worried, so she knits a wee gift to cheer her up. Now it’s Christmas, better knit six tiny Christmas trees to give to the teachers etc again…
You might see the sweater again, but not for months. This also leads on to…
4. You never see any of the finished items.
Did you notice with the projects listed above that many of them had a deadline? The baby is born, the school holidays loom, the friend is discharged, the teacher needs cheering up ASAP… She’s rushing to get this stuff done. I’ve been known to still be weaving in ends while sat in the car outside school on the last day before Christmas vacation, and blocking items in the steam from the shower I’m having while getting ready to go to that party. If she’s lucky, she’ll manage a quick picture on her way out of the door, or (as I have done way too many times) with the knitted item draped artfully across the dashboard of the car, so she can update her Ravelry project page.
Remember number 3? Did you notice the priority given to the sweater she’s knitting herself? Combined with her propensity to rip anything she’s not entirely happy with, there’s a good chance she’ll never wear that sweater. You’re likely to hear it referred to as ‘that fucking sweater’ if you ask after it. She knows she’s not much of a knitter if she doesn’t wear her own creations, and it eats away at her, but she’s a flibbertigibbet and a perfectionist. That sweater needs hours of work before she even puts yarn to needle. She’s spend hours researching yarns, which is softest, which is machine washable, which won’t get bobbles after a week, stretchy but not too stretchy, hangs just right without bunching up. Then she’s measuring herself, doing insane calculations involving her boobs, stitches per inch, neat increases and decreases, short rows, and other technicalities which would give you nightmares and make you worry for her sanity if she mentioned them.
She feels guilty getting yarn as a gift because in all likelihood, she will be giving away the finished item. If she’s knitting herself something, there’s a good chance it’s something like a sweater, and unless you know her measurements, and know which pattern she will choose, and know how she will need to modify that pattern to fit her, and know how much yarn that will require, and what type of yarn and the properties of that yarn, it’s best not to guess.
Needles are sometimes welcome, but make sure you know whether she prefers to knit with regular needles, or circular needles, or double-pointed needles, or she uses the magic loop method, and if she does use circulars, does she prefer fixed or interchangeable? Basically, if you know her well enough to be able to buy the sort of underpants she prefers in the right size, then there’s a chance you know her well enough to buy needles for her. Good for you!
Books are slightly different, every knitter loves knitting books, whether they are books of patterns, stitches, or knitting lore. The books I appreciate most as gifts are the ones I wouldn’t think to buy myself, the divinely dark, kooky and adorable, they all float my boat, and are fun to read, even if I’m not likely to knit anything from them. If she’s looking to knit something for a specific person, event, or yarn, these books aren’t that helpful. What she uses is the Ravelry database, which as of today, has 292,716 patterns she can browse, narrowing it down by tiny weeny details and specifics which you didn’t even know existed. So if you’re going to buy books, stick to the light, novelty ones, she’ll be thrilled to have something light to read!
So now you know her secrets, go embrace your crazy knitting friend, she’s very special, and she definitely appreciates your talents in return.