I enjoy keeping busy while watching a television program. I will look at magazines during the commercials, sometimes be reading a book, clipping coupons, writing or doing some hand sewing.
Hand sewing is something I learned from my grandmother. She taught me to do cross-stitch embroidery when I was around 7 or 8. Content with making little x's with thread and chain stitching, I never progressed to anything fancier.
I still have several projects partly done, but as I've become older, I've found the work strains my eyes. So, I guess until I'm ready to invest in one of those monster magnifiers I've seen in odd-ball catalogs, the embroidery has been put aside.
As a substitute, this summer I decided I was going to teach myself to knit. I bought a book, I bought a kit, I bought yarn, then I stopped.
I couldn't get beyond trying to find out whether or not I needed to turn the yarn in a ball and if so, how did I do that. The book and the instructions with the kit both had illustrations of balls of yarn being used, but no written material on how to turn a sausage-looking thing of yarn into a ball. I went to the Internet and found no help.
So, I asked a co-worker who knits. She said, "no" -- I didn't need to make a ball of the yarn to knit if it was in a skein (those sausage-looking things are skeins, she explained).
OK. With that information at hand I was ready to move on ... but then life and work obligations pulled my attention away from pursuing turning a skein of yarn into a scarf.
But now it is fall and I saw all the beautiful work by Rim Country residents at the Northern Gila County Fair and I decided now's the time.
The first skein of yarn I bought is this really beautiful, deep teal chenille, but my co-worker said it is a difficult yarn to work with, so I went back and bought more yarn. The first skein has 100 yards of yarn, the second -- a thinner yarn in bright turquoise -- has 364 yards. I guess I am going to do a lot of practice knitting.
After my first lesson -- done in fast forward mode -- I am beginning to wonder if I have the hand-eye coordination for this craft.
The first step is to pull out about 20 to 30 inches of yarn from the skein.
Go to about the middle of the yarn you have pulled out and make a slip knot over your knitting needle or make it and slide the needle into it.
Next you loosely weave the yarn around your left hand (if you're right handed and I guess the opposite if you're not): the skein is to your right, the pulled yarn is to your left.
The loose yarn is wrapped around your thumb and forefinger, both the strands closest to the skein and the loose yarn are grasped against your palm with your other fingers.
"You make a triangle with the yarn," explained my instructor co-worker (it is one heck of a cockeyed triangle -- but the triangle concept is important to the next step).
You run the needle under the base of your triangle, then over the yarn woven around your thumb and forefinger, which creates a half loop around your thumb. Next pull the needle through the loop, slide the loop off your thumb onto the needle and then tighten it.
And that's as far as I could go with what I'd been shown and could figure out from the book illustrations and instructions.
Which is not especially productive, because when you pull the yarn off the needle all the little loops disintegrate, leaving you with just the yarn.
So, I am waiting for help to learn how you keep your loops together and move onto a new row, eventually creating a square (more-or-less) of yarn that will at some point become at least a scarf.
I know it would be much easier just to go buy a pretty chenille scarf in deep teal, but easy does not necessarily equal satisfaction.
TIPS TO GET STARTED
An expert in knitting recommends the following Web site for beginning knitters: www.knittingatknoon.com/demos.html
Wal-Mart in Payson carries the book "I Taught Myself to Knit," which comes with the tools needed to get started, except for the yarn.