Building blocks; knit, plié, purl, tendu…

This was nearly a post about the Olympics, but I had camera!fail at the crucial moment so it isn’t. That’ll come later, trust me…

“Once you can knit and purl you can do anything,” thus advised my mother when I was first learning to knit. I raised a sceptical eyebrow in disbelief and turned to my lifelong partner in crime (the cat) who was totally and utterly disinterested in my plight and continued to sleep. Getting no sympathy from the cat, I returned my attentions to my knitting and concentrated on not poking myself in the eye with a needle as I struggled to get myself into a four count rhythm that’s now second nature to me: in, round, through and off.

I remember reading my first knitting patterns and wondered how I’d ever make sense of ‘k5, p1, yo, ssk, skp, k4, p2, k2tog, kfb, kfb, m1’ and yet I did. In a similar vein I’ve often first heard a ballet exercise being set and wondered how on earth I’d ever get my legs around that.

It might not seem completely obvious but there are a lot of similarities between knitting and ballet. Can’t knit without knit and purl, can’t dance without a plié or a tendu. Other things too, of course, but all the building blocks are there in those things. Get your head around those and ‘k5, p1, yo, ssk, skp, k4, p2, k2tog, kfb, kfb, m1’ or ‘tendu en croix, glissé, glissé, ronde de jambe, sauté’ suddenly starts to make a lot more sense.

Knit stitches are the pliés of the knitting world, first thing you learn, first thing you do at the barre. Purl is the logical progression from knit, so is tendu from plié. Stitch patterns in knitting are created by jazzing up the knit-purl mix, increasing and decreasing, cables, colourwork. Similarly, you can’t jump without a plié and you can’t grand battement without a tendu. It makes sense when you think about it.

I could go on about this for hours, but I won’t. I’ll leave it there and definitely come back to it – especially why I think cables are exactly like ronde de jambes, why colourwork is like petit allegro and why a jumper I once knitted is exactly like a bad class…

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1 Comment

Filed under I dance (not by Toyota), knitting on pointe

One response to “Building blocks; knit, plié, purl, tendu…

  1. As a knitter and a dancer, I love this post! I’d thought of the parallels before, but you put it into words beautifully.

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