How I Started Knitting: Joan’s Story

When Anna and I decided to write about how we each started to knit and crochet, I admittedly felt a little nervous.. How and where do I even begin!? I wish I had one of those “I picked up my first pair of needles as a child and have never looked back” stories, but that’s not the case here…

As a senior in high school, I was over at my childhood best friend’s house and had noticed a gorgeous off-white scarf. I still remember the way it smelled and how it felt against the skin. I fired off a few “Where did you get that?”‘s in quick succession.

“Oh, my mom knit it for me”, she had said nonchalantly. Whaaat? I knew right then and there I wanted to make one for myself. She grabbed a spare pair of needles, some stash yarn and patiently taught me how to cast on. Needless to say, I was mesmerized!

I’ve always had a huge love for the arts and self-learning – In the past, I’ve taught myself basic programming, photography, scrapbooking and a bunch of other crafts (albeit not necessarily excelling in every one of them).. So why not give this a try? That winter, I bought a few books and beginner kits to test out this new hobby of mine.

Fast forward a few months, and I was off to start my university career. It seemed like my life had changed completely – between being thrust into a highly competitive academic program, living on my own for the first time, going through various breakups and makeups.. There was no room in my life for hobbies!!

I didn’t resume knitting again until 2011, when I was doing a teaching stint in northeastern China. One of my students had brought a scarf project to class, which piqued my interest once again. I asked her how her stitches looked so intricate, and she introduced me to the almighty cable needle. She showed me where to buy yarn and tools for cheap on campus, and I got started right away. That semester, all I did was teach, eat, sleep, knit, and binge watch all four seasons of Prison Break. I copied her cable scarf design and made one for nearly all my fellow teachers (one being Anna’s future fiancé)!!

Cowls were all the rage in China circa 2011

Since then, wherever I’ve been in the world, my yarn and needles have followed. Knitting has kept me sane in times when I feel all alone in the world, like when I lived by myself in a tiny apartment in Lausanne, Switzerland. Knitting has given me a sense of community, like when I taught my co-workers how to knit whilst traveling across Ontario on the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s Pink Tour to promote breast health. Knitting has given me self-confidence, because I’ve never felt prouder than when I’ve just completed a big project.

Knitting has accompanied me through the best and worst of times. It’s my form of relaxation and stress relief. It’s taught me patience while keeping me surprisingly focused. It’s survived three and a half boyfriends and a fiancé.. And now that I’ve taken it to a whole new level now by co-owning our own DIY boutique, I think it’s here to stay!

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