Thursday, April 06, 2006


When I was 8 years old, my parents left me and my younger brother with my two grandmothers for a few days. Grandmother kept us during the day and Granny (who worked during the day) in the evening.

By day I learned to sew and quilt. At Grandmother's house, I made a quilted pillow that still sits in my bedroom in my parents' house. Meanwhile, my grandmother pieced together her quilt top.

After dinner, my other grandmother tried to teach me to knit and crochet. As Granny worked on a purple sweater coat, I made a crocheted belt and hair tie as well as a knitted skirt for a Barbie doll. It was an A-line skirt, growing by one stich each row. (This was not on purpose; every time I started a new row, I pulled the yarn to the front rather than the back to make the first stich into two.)

While Granny was an incredible knitter, she was not a perfect teacher--at least not for a child. She did not understand my slow learning curve. She showed me knit stich, purl, increase, decrease, and yarnover and expected me to knit a lace scarf immediately. It was not until many years later, years filled with lessons from my mother (a satisfactory knitter and a great teacher) and several technique books that I really got the hang of knitting. And there is still so much I have not tried!

I learned to be a knitter from Granny, even if she did not teach me the stitches in any way that stuck. Every time I wear the sweater coat she knitted all those years ago, I feel the warmth of not only the yarn but also the not-always-expressed love that she knitted into each stitch. Every time I use my own needles to create something for a loved one, I think of her sitting alone on her couch, listening to the radio and imagining surrounding us in warmth.

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