This weekend I attended my first FibresWest. I started the day in a workshop on cast-on methods called A Thoughtful Beginning.

The workshop was packed with information; three and a half hours worth and we could have spent another hour or two more! We covered some basic cast-ons (including the tried-and-true long-tail), circular, provisionals, and finally some decorative cast-ons. I have several books with cast-on instructions, and of course there is always YouTube, but I find nothing compares to being able to interact with the instructor and connect with other students.

And our instructor, Venessa, was absolutely fantastic: engaging, encouraging, approachable, and humble in her expertise.

Two of the most exciting techniques I learned were Old Norwegian/German Twist, and the I-Cord cast-ons.

The Old Norwegian is just as resilient as the long-tail but with the benefit of stretch. So it’s perfect for sock cuffs, mittens, and hats. I’m also a tight knitter so a little extra stretch would be helpful and this cast-on looks so very neat and tidy with a similar braided look to long-tail. I may even use it all the time instead of the long-tail (which, by the way, I have been doing a little wrong all this time! At some point I started doing it backwards. Now to hunt down those I’ve shown and correct them!).

The prettiest was the I-cord cast-on, which is very time-consuming and will need more practice before I actually use it in a project. However, the finish is so clean and sleek, I have to find a way to use it!

But the most profound statement of the day wasn’t about technique. It was something Venessa said in her introduction, something so simple but resonates with me still: You knit where you’re from.

And that had me thinking about knitting in a way I hadn’t before. I may live in the middle of the big city, but I spent my childhood in a small rural community. A place with a lot space and a lot less going on; less calling for attention, for reaction, for consumption. A place with room to breathe and ponder; where the details stand out so they had better be well-thought out. A place to Do for the sake of Process and not for chasing Results. A place I often miss and long for and try to recreate in secret places that I can disappear to when the clamour and chaos of the city becomes a little too much. And this is why I knit.

I think you also knit who you are. A thoughtful beginning indeed.


The sky as seen from my childhood home