cigarettes and knitting

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I get asked a lot how I learned to knit. Even now that I don’t own the shop and I’m not seen as the owner of the local yarn shop. But I’m still knitting in public. In doctor office waiting room, restaurants, bars, church… I always have my knitting with me. Here is a post I wrote almost 10 years when I first started BRECKINRIDGE DIARIES. It’s about my unlikely discovery story. Cause it was all about cigarette and knitting at first.

I am not one of those knitters that learned how to knit at her grandmother’s knee. I don’t even know if either of my grandmothers knew how to knit. My great aunt on my mother’s side crocheted and she tried to teach me once but she got so frustrated I think it damaged our relationship forever.

So if I didn’t learn to knit at the knee of some old relative, how did I learn? Well, I simply taught myself. See here is the story. I was a smoker (I know bad habit) and I loved smoking. I used to call it my one true vice. I was addicted in more than just a physical sense. I felt cool when I was smoking. There is something that makes beer and wine better and it is called a cigarette. Like many I started in high school but unlike many high schoolers, I wasn’t just social smoker. Boy, this is making me want a cigarette right now.

Anyway, about 6 years ago I wanted to quit. It was getting way too expense (even though the price had long since been past my “I’m going to quit when cigarettes are $xxx” price). I saw a commercial on TV about quitting and one of the actors said “I learned to sew to keep my hands busy.” Well sewing was never my thing – although I did own a sewing machine. And I’d previously been obsessed with cross stitch but knitting seemed like it might just do the trick.

So I decided to teach myself to knit. The logic here is that if I’m using both hands to do something, then I don’t have a third hand to hold a cigarette. I bought a “Teach Yourself to Knit” book and sat on my couch for about 6 hours straight learning to cast on and do the knit stitch. Did I mention that I have an obsessive tendency – when I set my mind to something, I can spend hours doing nothing else.

At first, I would knit and then put down the needles to smoke a cigarette. Learning to knit is not as relaxing as knitting later becomes. Then I learned to temporarily hold the yarn and needles in one hand while smoking in the other. At times, I held the cigarette in my mouth while I knitted a few stitches. I wish I had a picture of that. The more I knitted the less I smoked but I was still a smoker.

It wasn’t until I meet the man I would marry that I completely quit. He wasn’t a smoker and the more I was around him the less I smoked. But I’ve “stayed quit” because of my knitting. Knitting is relaxing and yarn is soothing. I can channel my obsessive nature into my knitting. There are lots of accessories to purchase (another obsession). There are local yarn shops to visit while on vacation or traveling instead of looking for the discount tobacco store. I have wonderful new friends because of my knitting and I have dreams of one day owning my own yarn shop and/or designing my own hand knits. Knitting is like history to me – you can never know it all. It is a continuing education about stitches and design structure; old techniques and new innovation; and yarn, yarn and more yarn. It is a hobby that can travel in your purse and be with you during all the waiting we Americans seem to do. Hurry up and wait as my dad always says. But while I am waiting, I think I’ll knit for a while.

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