Make it or buy it?

After days of staring at hand-knit scarves and hats on Etsy and trying to decide if I should buy one, then deciding the ones I liked were too expensive but continuing to bookmark them, I finally thought: Why don’t I just learn how to knit? Or, at least try. There must be a million online tutorials for this sort of thing. If I get good at it, I can make stuff. If I fail, I know I have to buy a scarf.

So after a quick search to confirm that yes, there are millions of sites claiming to instruct knitting, I walked to the yarn shop in Delft. (I already knew there was a shop full of colorful strands I have often wished I knew how to use.) An eight Euro investment got me a set of needles and 100 grams of green yarn. The saleswoman helped me select a pair of needles based on the yarn I had chosen. (They’re 8mm.)

This morning I woke up and said, “Today I am learning how to knit!” Several hours later, I have managed with much tribulation to produce the following:

Not all online tutorials are created equal, as you might have guessed, so I was bouncing back and forth between about five of them. And online tutorials are not the same as having a friend show you a stitch! I am a little “go big or go home” so I tried immediately to start a thirty-five row scarf, and after undoing it three times decided the best thing was to practice with just five stitches and make a little square. More often than not I wind up with misshapen loops sticking out in odd places and have no idea what I’m doing wrong. We shall see how this progresses.

So here’s my question: what do you make yourself, and what do you just go out and buy?

I think the main item I am accustomed to making at home instead of buying prepared is chicken stock. I make 6-8 cups at a time and only buy it if I’m in a pinch. I had a brief phase with making necklaces one Christmas, but discovered that the expense of buying all the nice beads did not truly make for economical gifts. I once made fresh mustard. That was really tasty. I have a friend who makes beautiful handmade greeting cards, and my sister has made usable bakeware in a pottery class.

The markets here are full of fabrics (Christmas prints now) and buttons and yarn, and lately I’ve just been wishing I were craftier! Perhaps the knitting is the culmination of that urge. Any knitters out there? Tips? References? Cool things I should make?

And for those of you who prefer weather discussions to arts and crafts (I know who you are):

Remember when we arrived in Delft (July) it was light out until midnight? Well, the reverse trend has arrived. When Tim leaves for work around 8 a.m. lately, it is black as midnight outside. It’s really eerie. He now commutes in the dark, all the bicycles with their lights on. The evenings have been dimming earlier, too. Fall here is quite rainy, and it often rains quite hard. Last week some particularly hard-sounding rain turned out to be hail!

Hail on the windowsill

We met up with some US friends on a European tour this past weekend, and unfortunately they were treated to an absolute blitz of rain on their only day in Delft. Sorry, guys. But you definitely got the authentic experience!



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8 responses to “Make it or buy it?

  1. Kevin

    Becky got into knitting for a time. She made many items, but I can only think of the scarves at the moment. My sister is pretty good at crocheting. (I had to go look up the difference between knitting and crocheting just now.) As for other home made products, Becky has made items related to clothe diapering and we have done some fruit canning the last year or two (peach jam, apple butter, apple sauce).

    As for weather, yesterday we had a lovely 70 degree day in between the 50 degree days (that’s Fahrenheit in case you’ve forgotten :). So I took a half day to enjoy it.

  2. I make chicken stock too, and I made some jam this year – strawberry and ginger peach. The jam was fun, and it’s nice to be able to adjust the sweetness, but I get the feeling it’s not that economical unless you grow the fruit yourself. But that’s a project for another decade, I think.

    In college I made the decision not to learn to knit so that my knitting friends would have someone to give scarves to.

  3. I love to knit! And have taught MANY how. I wondered if your little yarn shop wouldn’t be able to help you out of glitches. Just getting comfortable with needles, casting on…and knit, purl….is quite an assignment…and your little 5 stitch sample looks MARVELOUS. You are so good at finding things online. A scarf would probably be the easiest…but as your confidence grows, and you can decrease and increase…you could make a hat.

  4. Linda

    Which leaves me to knit her mittens! Which is fine, because knitting is not about the product, it’s about having something to do with your hands that’s first of all soothing and incidentally productive. It’s also about the cool yarns out there.

    I used to make chicken stock because I wanted no salt. It tasted disgusting unless you salted it “to taste” afterwards. So now I buy reduced sodium and save the mess of defatting the homemade kind. I also no longer keep a bag of chicken necks for stock in the freezer. A win-win-win situation.

    There are many things that I both make and buy. Applesauce and spaghetti sauce come to mind. If it’s an ingredient for something else baked (bread, muffins, chicken parm), I use the canned variety. If the sauce is the whole point (side dish for pork, topping for pasta), I make my own.

  5. Kaylan

    I just asked Sarah K to teach me how to knit! Great minds, Meghan, great minds. I haven’t had my first lesson yet, but she did bring me gifts of yarn, needles, and Stitch ‘N B*tch (whose proper title I”m guessing I can’t post).

    • unquiettime

      Definitely great minds. You will have to keep me apprised of your progress. I need to order a book, so let me know if that one’s good. You can only get so much off YouTube videos. I have managed a long rectangle of the knit stitch and am wondering where to go next.

  6. Pingback: Go Big or Go Home: Thanksgiving « Unquiet Time

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