about the essentials of life...knitting, designing knitting, yarn for knitting...you get the idea...

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I'm a knitter, knitting pattern designer, and spinner. I also dye yarn with both acid and natural dyes.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

One time only -

a meme. I so don't do memes, but this morning I read Scout's blog and it's stayed in my mind all day. So, just this once...
Scout is missing her mother and reminiscing about the knitting that they shared and that continues to unite her with her mom. She asks for tales of learning to knit and tributes to particular knitters important to her readers.
So, Scout, here you are.
My aunt taught me to knit when I was about 8, I think. I grew up in NY, but every summer I spent time in Providence, RI, where my father's family lived. All of the adult women in my family were knitters with the exception of my mother. I have great memories of the excitement and anticipation my family had for the expeditions we took to the great New England wool mills, now sadly gone. We would all pet and gather and compare, figure pattern needs and enjoy ourselves thoroughly. My aunts and grandmother would make their careful selections and then we'd go home to display our purchases and plan our projects. Even though I was just an observer, I loved these excursions.
My mother, though, did not. She occasionally would try to knit, resulting in strangely shaped, usually unfinished garments which fit no one. Either nobody explained gauge to her or she was too impatient to bother. Anyway, knitting was a trial to her, and I think that the yarn trips just made her feel excluded. Even her best friend was an expert knitter!
But one summer, in addition to spending time with the usual aunt, I spent a week with a second one. There was some uncomfortable history between this relative and my mother. They had been close friends in high school, but things became very different when my mother began dating her friend's older brother. The marriage was despaired of by both families - different religions, different heritages, even different languages. Probably my parents were unaware of my vacation with this second aunt.
The aunt in question was noted for her fashion sense. She had waited to marry and been a career girl. I remember her glamorous wardrobe and I thought she had an exciting life. She was also a knitter. That week, I watched her work. No one had ever offered to teach me, probably scared off by the fact that I was left handed. She just taught me to knit the way she did - not backwards or face to face or any of that nonsense. I made a shrug for my doll - white with navy stripes on either end. I remember being perplexed because I'd knit during the day and my shrug would have lumps and bumps and holes. Magically, they'd disappeared by the next morning. I wondered if I was losing my mind - had I imagined the mistakes? It never occurred to me that my aunt was fixing my work.
When the summer was over, I showed my new skill to my parents. They didn't seem particularly impressed. Imagine that.
The next time I remember knitting was when President Kennedy was shot. Our school shut down and we were send home in the middle of the day. I asked my mother what 'assassination' meant and was shocked that there was a special word for murdering an important person. The whole country spent the next days in front of the TV watching the tragedy unfold. In my family, I was the only one thus occupied. I spent days on the couch - knitting. I made a very wide, very long navy blue scarf on blue and white needles. I was already doing my own thing - scarves were supposed to be narrow and just long enough to wrap around the neck. I was also already reaching for fiber as a means of consolation. Just a kid, but already an inheritor of the long female tradition of working with our hands in times of stress.
As a new wife, surprised when my husband seemed to turn from me to advancing his career, I knit. I remember an intricate Aran afghan and bolster set in particular. No one had shown me any knitting techniques since that first shrug, but I was a great believer in 'if I can read, I can do anything' and I had a pattern and figured it out.
When my kids were little, I knit and crocheted like mad. I actually wore out my crochet hooks - they'd get so sharp in the end that they'd cut me. One Christmas, I sat up late finishing the last present and then got up early in the morning for surgery on my wrist. The surgeon told me that I should not have been able to move my hand, that the tendon was completely shredded. He didn't know about mothers and presents for their children.
I've gotten way off the meme, here. Scout started me off on knitting and remembrance and it seems what I remember is how knitting got me through difficult times. I hope it can do it again.

I know, this is crocheted. I thought I was going to go somewhere else with this post, so I'd already loaded this photo. Hate to 'waste' it! It's the topper for my shower curtain. No, I don't have any knitted/crochet toilet roll covers!


Blogger Scoutj said...

Well I for one, am very glad the the universe of knitting introduced you to me!

November 15, 2006 2:16 PM  
Blogger Marie said...

Thank you, Scout and back atcha.

November 15, 2006 2:41 PM  

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