starting out

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This post is not so much on how I started out knitting (for a definitive account of that, just glance over to the left), but about the history of knitting in my family. The two special knitters who passed onto me their genes, their sense of resourcefulness and their creativity, and who provide endless support and admiration for my knitting adventures: my Mum and my Grandma.

About the time when I was starting school, my Mum took up knitting. I have no idea why or how she took it up, but I do very clearly remember several things she made for me and my brother. One was a gentle pink cardigan in seed stitch for my round little girl body. I find it amazing that I remember the stitch type so vividly, but I know exactly why – because I absolutely adored it, just like the whole cardigan. I even remember when we went on a special outing, just the two of us, to find the perfect buttons for it. They were also pink, with something drawn on them in black, I remember the drawings partly-erased, as they became over time, but can’t recall what they were supposed to portray. If I were to ask my Mum, though, I’m sure she would know. She is just like that, she remembers all these little details about our lives and whenever you think she couldn’t possibly remember some little flashback of childhood you had, you just have to mention it to her and she’ll tell you when and where it happened and fill up the picture with a bunch of other details that had completely escaped you. Later, she made my brother and me each a set of gloves, hat and scarf for the winter. His was dark blue and mine dark purple. They were absolutely gorgeous and I loved wearing them. When I decided to take up knitting (in an instant), she knew exactly where her needles and old yarn were (even though she hadn’t touched them in ten years, she had taken up crochet in the meantime) and pulled out that very dark blue and dark purple yarn. They now occupy a treasured place in my stash, waiting for that perfect project to come. They feel, smell and look like – childhood.

My paternal Grandma, on the other hand, had been knitting and crocheting since forever. When we were small, we all wore her handknit sock-slippers, even today all the places we live in are full of her doilies, and at some point in my puberty – she presented me with my “dowry”: a box full of wonderfully handcrafted items, in the traditional spirit of the village she grew up in. It’s been a while now that she hasn’t been knitting or crocheting anything, though, as her eyes are simply too weak for it. There are different treasures I can share with her, though. Every time she sees me knit (and I have taken to bringing along my current projects to our family visits), she will remember some knitting-related story from her life. Like the time when my father fell chest-forward on her needles when he was about three years old. She grabbed him in her arms, and, just as she was, in her nightgown, ran through the snow-covered streets to the hospital. My Grandpa, not having fully grasped what had happened, had the common sense to put on his coat and shoes first and then ran after them. After the relief of being told that the boy was incredibly lucky and that he would suffer no consequence but a superficial scar, my Grandma realized what impression she and her husband must have given to the passers by: a dark winter night, a young woman in a nightgown with a toddler in her arms, running away from her husband who is yelling “wait, hold on”… :)

These two women may not have taught me to knit (though both tried to teach me to crochet at some point, but it was just never my thing), they may not have showed me how to hold the needles or how to make a yarn-over, but they are the ones responsible for my joy of creating, my patience for learning, and my love for giving. I could get the most elaborate praise from the most renowned knitter, but it would mean nothing in comparison to how I feel when my Grandma looks approvingly at my knitting or when my Mum is lost for words surveying in wonderment and pride the last item I made.