I learned to knit a long time ago. I was probably somewhere between 6 and 8 when my mother first taught me to wield needles and yarn. She wasn’t and isn’t a knitter, and so passed on only the most rudimentary of skills.

My grandmother is a knitter, and has always made stunningly beautiful knit items, but she tends not to talk about her knitting. I was more than willing to learn, but she didn’t seem moved to teach.

After a while I got tired of knit and purl, garter stitch and stockinette, and I put aside my needles. For years.

I picked them up again about 4 years ago. I knew that I wanted to move beyond plain stockinette and garter, and so bought a book of stitch patterns. (Actually, if I remember correctly, Branden bought it for me…)

I knit a few things with simple knit-purl patterns, but I found them tiresome, and moved almost immediately into lace. My third or fourth project was a simple yarn over lace, and then I tried some self-invented intarsia, some cables, and was off and running.

I’ve never really looked back at the knit-purl stitch patterns. I hated them then, and I wasn’t excited about knitting them now. Branden, however, is very drawn to the geometric, embossed look created by combination of knit and purl stitches. When I begin planning a project and hand him a stitch dictionary, he almost invariably comes back with a knit purl pattern. I almost invariably respond with a groan.

I’ve knit a few things with these patterns, in deference to his liking for them, but they were in fuzzy yarns not really suitable for seeing the pattern while knitting, or to being able to tell that there was a pattern once they’d been worn a few times. A lot of work yielded very little result. I remained unimpressed.

When Branden brought the Claudia yarn back from the US, the Ink colorway immediately stated that it would be a knit-purl pattern. Something with ridges and deep valleys. It was non-negotiable. The yarn is slightly overspun, and it’s beautifully soft and just a little bit shiny. Perfect for showing off a simple pattern.

Every once in a while, I like to re-examine my likes and dislikes, and to give things I hated the first time another chance. I cast on for a scarf.

Scarves are another of my dislikes. I have found that I have no problem knitting thousands upon thousands of stitches, but I hate stopping to turn my work while I knit. The closer the turns, the less I like it, and the more impatient I become. (There’s a reason that the rainbow vest stalled out just after I’d split for the back neck shaping…)

So, I cast on for a scarf knit lengthwise. And oh, what a difference. I started out at 500 stitches, and made it about 10 rows in before realizing that I wouldn’t have enough yarn to complete the scarf at the rate I was using it up. I ripped back and cast on for 400, a 20% decrease that I was pretty sure would give me enough width. We did some back-of-the-envelope type calculations and confirmed that I should end up with something 7-8 inches wide.

Not quite, as it turns out.

I went to the Karlsruhe knitting group on Wednesday after class, and my first skein ran out about halfway through the evening. The scarf is about 2.5 inches wide. There will not be enough yarn.

I’ll be ripping back this afternoon, and pondering what else to do with this yarn. I absolutely love the stitch pattern, and how well it accents the plain, dark yarn. The thing that surprises me is that I really enjoyed knitting a scarf in a knit purl pattern, and I don’t resent pulling it back at all. I even find myself a little grateful that the yarn took the time to make me re-examine my stitch books, and to rediscover a whole area of knit texture that I have been ignoring. For this project, I ended up creating my own stitch pattern based on a detail on the bath towels in our hotel apartment, but there is a whole world of stitch patterns just waiting to be explored. Sometimes it’s really worthwhile to dust off your prejudices and hold them to the light. Often, you’ll find that they no longer exist, that they’ve been replaced by opportunity.

I don’t know what this yarn will become. Socks are probably the obvious answer, but I don’t think that they’re a good fit for this particular skein. I need something small, something that can be made from just two skeins, but something that will really show it off. I don’t think it will happen right away, but I’m sure it will happen. And I’m looking forward to knitting with this yarn again.

I also think that this stitch pattern offset by half a repeat would make a great accent for a sweater.