Beyond a Crafting Review: Knitting 101 at the Purple Purl

New year, new skills. For me, that means KNITTING.

I have wanted to knit for a few years. It started as a whim in 2015 or so, when my mom sent me a care package with art supplies. With the watercolors I wanted lay a ball of sea green yarn and two sets of wooden needles. Maybe I could learn where she had been unable to teach herself.

Utter failure. I spent all day on a rainy Saturday watching a YouTube video that was supposed to teach me how to cast on. No luck–so I threw down the needles and took up the watercolors for the rest of the day.

But the desire to learn this cozy habit kept growing in me. Through watching grad school colleagues knit in feminist performances, receiving handmade outerwear and ornaments from playwriting mentors, and listening to the quiet click of needles during cast meet ups, theatre kept reminding me of this desire.

Oh yeah, and there were ALL THOSE PINK PUSSY HATS from the Women’s Marches.

So when my relatives demanded a Christmas list, I put “knitting lessons” at the top.


After picking out our yarn and tea at the first class, we went around and gave a little blurb about why had signed up. “My grandma taught me, but I forgot how to cast on… I want to make an afghan, but I don’t remember how to knit… I’m just here with my daughter, who learned from my mom but can’t remember…” blah blah blah–they were all ringers.

The only true beginner in the class was me.

I deeply enjoyed being at the Purple Purl. I walked inside a purple storefront into a whole rainbow of yarn. They offered everyone free tea, and if that weren’t enough, ZOE KAZAN HAD BEEN HERE (when they filmed What If or The F Word in Toronto).

I thought the first class went pretty well. I left with a start for my first hand-warmer, confident that I could knit the rest of the rows by next week.

And then the cold sores turned into a sore throat, which turned into a real illness that kept me bed-ridden for a week. I kept knitting throughout my illness, even tried starting the other hand-warmer when I thought I had knitted enough.

This is what I brought to class for the next class…


…and promptly frogged back down to loose yarn.

While the rest of the class learned how to finish the project and stitch it together, I started over from scratch. Something in my stomach still bumped and thumped, nervous that if I did not learn here with assistance from the teacher I would end up struggling with YouTube videos again. And I was still embarrassed when I took it out of my bag the first time, knowing full well that it was NOT supposed to have stripes like that.

But only a few days later I completed both of these and began my first independent project.

It is freeing to start something new and truly allow myself to be a beginner.

Especially when you still get hand-warmers out of it.

I find it fascinating to think about how this crafting process relates to my writing process. When I write, I end up with pages upon pages of useless crap that I cannot use or show to anyone. Knitting can be like that too–only no one sees the failed attempts usually. They disappear as you unravel the yarn and begin all over again. I can’t decide yet which is more satisfying. Thankfully I get to keep practicing both writing and knitting, so I don’t have to choose.

Thank you Pabi and Mom for gifting me this experience. Some might say I have became more of an “old lady” or square. Yes, I have stayed up way too late knitting a few nights–knots! Curse you! But it has also inducted me into a greater community of friends across North America who also love this craft. I cannot wait to bring my knitting to the Toronto Cold Reads in March!

And if you don’t know how to knit, I highly suggest embracing your true beginner and heading down to the Purple Purl for two classes of Knitting 101.

About austinausten88

Playwright in love with Classic films, afternoon tea, and Noel Coward. She recently graduated from Rice University. In the fall, she will be exchanging her English major undergraduate status for that of Theatre & Performance Studies graduate student.
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