Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Found: "Sure, I can use that."



The box must have been among the last things we were sorting through after Gram died. Thread, pins, knitting needles—I had those at home, but thread is always useful, the supply of pins was diminishing, I don’t have every size knitting needle. Besides, you never know what tools you might need for mending, sewing, creating. You never know what might need to be held together.

Four years later, and I have not yet incorporated her tools into mine. Not exactly. Two pairs of knitting needles have gone to Middle and Youngest, along with bright thick yarn and once-in-a-while knitting lessons.

This seems fitting, since Gram is the one who first taught me to knit. I remember very little about the process, except that it was slow and I found it confusing, especially when it came to purling. I vaguely remember mint green variegated yarn, although that may have been a different project. Whatever color it was, that first piece was never finished. But years later when I decided to again try knitting, there was something still there from those first lessons. With memory for a guide it was not quite like feeling my way in the dark, and I stuck with it a tiny bit longer—until I decided I was too busy for a hobby. Adulthood was like that for me—I treated it for years like a narrowing.

A few years and two children later, I decided maybe a hobby was the thing. And my third try at knitting stuck. Most of what I know now has come from puzzling through books of patterns from the library, but I still count it as a gift from her, this widening of my adult life. My knitting lessons with her were brief, as were our forays into sewing and embroidery. I imagined them for years as failed attempts. The projects we started together were never finished. My interest in them diminished.

And yet.

She taught me enough about each of these things to bridge many years. Maybe she knew what it would mean to me—the joy of color and texture, the soothing nature of the work, the life-changing lesson that works its way into your soul: Sometimes the only way to have that beautiful thing you want is to make it yourself. I took up knitting several years before she died, but it seems there were always other things to talk about, so many other people around. Now I can only guess. It is a slender connection to her, I suppose, but that is the magic of knitting, itself: how you take a single long strand, humble thing, and work it into something else—solid, complex, warm.



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