Each fall I am struck by a strange sensation. At the first hint of chilly autumn air, when the wind takes on a different tone as it rustles the drying leaves, my hands begin to itch.
It is not an allergy or a flare-up of some rare skin disease. It is an insatiable craving in which my palms ache for texture. My fingers beg for bamboo needles and wool yarn wound through them. My soul is compelled to create. I must knit.
I guess it's like a nesting instinct. Rising up each fall, it is a reminder to warm up and prepare my family for winter. It coincides with a desire to bake bread and fire up the slow cooker.
When the feeling overtakes me, I dig my grandma's knitting bag out of the closet to find my first project. I start each fall by picking up whatever it was I abandoned the previous spring when the spell wore off. This year it was a pair of wrist warmers in the most delicious red wool. The pattern for the toasty wrist warmers came from Knitty, the best online source of patterns and ideas. I have spent many late nights poring over the site's seemingly endless articles.
I love gloves without fingers, which is why I made the warmers for myself. But ever since I cast them off the needles three days ago, my 7 year old has refused to remove them from her own wrists. I guess I need to make another pair.
It seems like I always have one project that never sees its ends woven in - right now that project is a kitschy pair of mittens for my mother's 60th birthday. Mom turns 62 tomorrow. And I really should finish those mittens...but instead I am in the mood to make pocket monsters for my kids and a hat for my fella.
I love to wander and dream in Knitche in Downers Grove, and I hope to make it there this weekend to find yarn for the above-mentioned dome cover. The store is small, but packed to the rafters with some of the finest American and imported yarns you could wish for. The staff is infinitely knowledgeable and helpful, and the store displays completed projects with their yarns for inspiration - and I am not talking about the knitted swatch you might see in Hobby Lobby's yarn aisle - I am talking about the baby shawl that is so adorable it makes you want to get pregnant so you have an excuse to knit one. A huge bonus for Knitche is that Bead Heaven is right next door!
For yarn that is more closely connected to Illinois' beautiful pastures, Esther's Place is worth every minute of the drive to the quaint little town of Big Rock. The store resides in a charming Victorian home and overflows with handspun, hand-dyed wool yarns and fibers from local sheep. If you and your family are thinking of going uber-green, you can even pick up your own spinning wheel!
Connections to nature aside, there is a deep satisfaction that comes from creating something beautiful out of yarn. If you've ever felt the itch to learn knitting, it's worth indulging. Most yarn shops offer classes. Community colleges like Waubonsee and COD also regularly offer inexpensive non-credit classes.