Friday, March 11, 2011

To Knit or Knot to Knit

I decided today that I should take up knitting. Not sure why. I learned to knit many years ago, so I know the fundamentals. It must be like riding a bike, right? I get the sense (largely from reading blogs, actually) that knitting can be very relaxing. Which could be of great benefit to somebody in my current state.

I may have a romanticized vision of knitting. There is a wonderful wool shop in our little city. It is 105 years old, and sells the most beautifully-coloured yarn I've ever seen. I wander through it because I love colour, I haven't in the past thought about buying needles and creating something. The shop does offer lessons, a Friday night social/knitting group, and a charity knitting circle. It sounds like something out of a novel about knitting, of which there certainly are plenty, these days. Maybe I think I want to be a knitter, but really, all I want is to be a character in a knitting novel? I'm not sure.

My grandmother taught me how to knit and crochet when I was about ten. (This was the same grandmother who, two years earlier, declared in front of a room full of people that I got homelier every year.) I don't have a very clear memory of the knitting lessons, but I think that I enjoyed the learning, and suspect that it was nice for me to spend that type of quiet time with my "Nannie." I didn't knit anything to completion at the time, I just learned the mechanics, and then put the needles down and went back to Nancy Drew.

I didn't pick up knitting needles again until I was twenty, and pregnant. My claim to knitting fame to this day is a tiny, multi-coloured (pale pastels) baby sweater. With freakishly long arms. The sweater itself is tucked into First Born's memory box. Thinking about it now, I would love to dig it out and just gaze at it again. I still marvel that I made it. As I recall, my Mom had to help me sew the pieces together, and I am pretty sure I let her put the buttons on too. But I knit each and every piece of it, lovingly, and with great care.

The irony only occurs to me now, going on thirty years later, that I completed the one knitting project of my life at the same time that the woman who taught me how to knit, was completing her time on earth. Nannie was 87 when she died, just six weeks after First Born appeared. Nannie met First Born only once. As my Mom liked to tell the story, we brought First Born to the nursing home on one of Nannie's seemingly better days. Nannie had dementia, but could be lucid at times. We thought she was having a particularly good day, that day. As she cradled First Born in her arms Nannie certainly seemed happy as she stroked First Born's cheek, and cooed baby noises to her in her beautiful, lilting Dublin brogue. After a few moments, a look of concern came over her face, and she looked straight up into my mother's eyes, and without missing a beat said, "Oh my, Dorothy, she's lovely. But I think this one ought to be your last." We laughed for days, well - for years, about Nannie thinking my baby was Mom's.

My mother also knit, and I would imagine that Nannie taught her how, just as she taught me. Funny, I've never thought that thought until now, it is pleasant to think it. In addition to knitting baby booties and sweaters (what ever happened to baby booties, anyway), every winter Mom knit mittens for the homeless, and in the last few years of her life, like so many other women it seemed, she took up knitting cotton dishcloths. They were all the rage in 90s. When Mom died, I inherited a handful of her newly knitted, never used, cloths. They too are tucked away, in yet another box. I haven't ever had the heart to use them. I'll pass them along to my girls, at some point, along with the beautiful baby sweaters that Mom knit for them. Sweaters, I should say, with arms knitted in perfect proportion.

So here's what I know. I think I want to knit. I don't know why that desire has come to me at this point in my life, this moment in my recovery. But I'm going to go for it, and I'll just take stitch at a time.


  1. There's something about knitting. I once had a student who would sit at the back of the class and quietly knit knit knit instead of taking notes. She graduated one of college's top clinicians...

  2. I just learned to knit a couple of years ago - it was a gift to my mom. We went to class together along with my two daughters. It was fun.

    I haven'te really progressed beyond the dish cloth and scarf. Regardless of the project there is some satisfaction gained when your project is all done (unlike, laundy, dishes, etc.).

    Have fun!

  3. Thanks, Cathy and Jenni...I went in and signed up for lessons yesterday!