Knitting Bass-Ackwards

Back on November 30, I hit another goal besides the focusing on Willow for a month and winning NaNoWriMo. I also finished knitting my first scarf. I like to knit while I write. It helps me focus my thoughts when I get stuck. But I didn’t always like to knit.

When I lived in the city with my hubby, all my friends did it. A whole bunch of young women toting around needles and yarn whereever they went: to church, at our Bible study, during a rock performance at Schubas…they just loved to knit. I, on the other hand, didn’t want to do knitting. I was stubbornly set on doing cross-stitch. “Cross-stitching is a challenge,” I would say as I pull out my bag of tangled floss, my pattern all marked up, and the canvass itself, which would have been in its hoop for many years because I’ve been working on the same piece since I got married. Whereas my friends would knit in the dark, I had to have light, so it limited my time to do cross-stitch to doing it at home relaxing in front of the TV.

Unfortunately, when you do cross-stitch, you have to be very careful in counting your stitches or else you’ll lose your place and put stitches where you’re not supposed to. That’s what happened to me on this one piece. It’s still sitting in my closet, begging for me to finish it, but I daren’t touch it. It’s messed up so bad, I’m afraid to even look at it.

That’s when I realized that the bandwagon of knitting headed off in the distance without me and that I better take a flying leap to catch up. So I bought some needles and yarn, one of those pamphlets that taught you how to knit, and I took it to someone and asked, “Can you show me how to knit?” This person, however, was not a teacher.

“You’re doing it wrong!”
“It has to be tighter!”
“Ugh! Here…give me that. You loop it like this! This!”

I emerged from that experience with more scars than possible and decided never to take up knitting again. It looked too dangerous.

Fast forward to last year. My dear sister-in-law got me the book Stitch ‘N bitch for Christmas. “You should try it,” she said. “It’s easy.” I was dubious, at first, especially about the title, the fundamentalist Christian rearing its ugly head. But when I opened it up, I fell in love with all the patterns inside. Plus, they made knitting look so darn easy…maybe I should give knitting a second chance.

I started on a scarf on December 26, 2005. I finished it November 30, 2006. It’s a very pretty scarf, I have to say. I taught myself to knit and purl, so there’s some nice ribbing across it. Sure, it’s wider more than it’s longer. My original plan was to give it to my hubby, but when it barely enclosed his neck, I gave it to Daniel instead. It covers him quite nicely.

This is easy, I thought, and started to tackle the next project of knitting a handkerchief to wear on my head. It involved making a triangle using stitches called increases and decreases. The instructions said to put the needles into the front and back of the loop.


I had no clue what this meant. I studied the pictures. I positioned my needles. But I had no clue what I was doing. I needed help. But this time, I was smart. I went to a knitting shop and explained my problem. The shop owner was very nice–she took up some needles and yarn, did some funky flying maneuvers that made drop my jaw in awe, and handed them to me, several rows casted on in a blink of an eye. “Show me how you knit.” I did, and a smile crossed her face.

“Oh…I see what you’re doing. You’re knitting into the back of the loop.”

“Is that the wrong way?” I asked.

“Not necessarily. When people knit, the normal way is to knit in the front of the loop, like this.” She showed me carefully. “When you knit in the back, that’s called ‘twisting the stitch’. You don’t want to do this consistently, but it’s very useful in some patterns.”

“But I’ve made an entire scarf that way!” I wailed.

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about it,” she said. “Knitting in the back loop makes the knitting tighter. Some people say it’s harder to get the needles in that way. But for plain things, like scarves, I wouldn’t worry about it. Part of knitting is having fun and doing lots of creative things with it. If it works for you, it works.”

So ain’t that something. All this time, I’ve been knitting bass-backwards. But you know what? So what. That scarf still looks good. No one knows that I’ve knitted it wrong. No one cares either, so why should I? Maybe I like knitting in the back loop. True, I’m knitting the correct way now, but frankly, it looks strange to my eyes. Oh well. Maybe I’ll make some more scarves knitting in the back loop. I’m a rebel that way.

And someday, maybe I’ll even take cross-stitch out of the closet, throw away the pattern, and stitch it my own damn way.