Monday, February 20, 2006

Knit One, Purl Two?

Ok...well I'm not really up to the purl part yet. After about four hours, I'm still trying to get the knit stitch down pat.

I decided some weeks ago that it was time to learn to knit. PC thinks that I'm crazy for taking on something else. Since I've given up running, I figure that I should fill that time with some other worthwhile activity -- and knitting seems to fit the bill.

All of the women in my family are accomplished needle workers. Knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, sewing. A few half-hearted attempts as a young girl and I seemed destined not to join their ranks. Lack-of-patience or perhaps a lack-of-talent. Who knows? Luckily for me, I was born into a generation that did not require young ladies to perfect their needle skills.

Or maybe not so lucky. Instead of being tormented in my youth, I struggle with a new skill in my adulthood. And that adage about old canines isn't so wrong. It is not impossible to acquire a new talent, but it is certainly more difficult to do so as we grow older. So while my childhood was free of the painstaking hours earlier genreations of girl spent knitting rows and then tearing out imperfect stitches, and for that I am thankful, I now wrestle with clumsy hands to create something that might have come much easier to my younger self.

It turns out that you can't actually learn everything just by reading. That's not to say that a little advance research won't help with a new skill. At a certain point, however, one just needs to learn by doing.

I decided to enlist the help of my grandmother. As the matriach of our family, and a most accomplished seamstress, I figured that she would have much to offer in the way of advice and expertise. And even though I have heard many of our family stories from her, I hoped that other information would flow as freely as the knitting needles. [I feel accomplished already for just 10 days ago, I referred to these as "knitting sticks."]

What did I learn during our first lesson?
I learned that knitting requires an awful lot of concentration and patience in the very beginning.
I learned that my grandmother was taught to knit when she was about 15 by a tenant that lived in one of the buildings owned by my great-grandmother.
I learned that the very first sweater that my grandmother knitted was for her beloved brother Henry and that he was wearing it the day that he died.

I didn't know any of those things. The first item I would have discovered on my own, but I could have never uncovered the other two facts had we not been sitting together and knitting.

I don't expect to make great things. If I do, an added benefit. What I am hoping is to to learn great things. Information that will add to my story.

5 comments:

PepGiraffe said...

1) How great. I love that *I* now know those facts, too. It seems I might have known about the second one maybe. It sounds vaguely familiar, but I didn't remember it and now I can come back to it when I want. What a blessing.

2) I don't actually know how to knit although I did it once at a Mitzvah Day, so you don't have to feel so all alone. And learn the lesson: practice or the skill dies.

3) I wish I could have known Henry. I bet we all would have adored him.

4) You didn't really call them knitting sticks, right? I mean, you knew that's not what they were called, right? Please.

5) Ace said he'd teach me when we both had time. Is it weird that out of all four kids, one of the boys knows how to knit. No, it's just very progressive.

6) Remember, even if you don't make great things, you can still make inexpensive Channukah gifts. Dibs on a cute knit hat. :)

Rivster said...

1) It didn't sound familiar to me at all so I was thrilled to learn that. I feel as though there are so many questions I've never thought to ask and I want to ask them all so that I can get all the details.

2) Isn't that the truth about most things?

3) I agree. I was rereading sections of Gma & Gpa's memoirs and you can just tell what a swell uncle Henry would have been to us!

4) OK -- I did really call them knitting sticks. I knew that they might have some other name but I really didn't know what it was. I knew that "hook" goes with "crochet" and I thought that "needle" went with "sewing." [This is like one of those masochistic SAT exercises!]

5) I think that it totally fits Ace's personality to knit. It is just soooo cool!

6) Sorry but your fashion-forward niece (yeah, the two year-old) has already put in a request for a hat, a scarf, and a bag. Get in line :)

PepGiraffe said...

I liked the analogies on the SATs. But you won't have to prep Beernut or Poppy for them because they've taken them out.

Rivster said...

Wow -- the analogies were the only thing that saved me. That was a silly decision. Of all the skills found on the SAT of old, I use analogies the most in the 'real world.'

Who makes these decisions, anyway??

And do you mean to tell me that the current and future generations will miss my reference completely?

PepGiraffe said...

If it's any consolation, it's possible that past generations would have missed your reference anyway. Just cause everyone in our family likes that part of the test doesn't mean that everyone else does.

And I would love to know who makes boneheaded decisions like these. I mean, that's someone's job. Hey. That could be my job if I change careers. I hope I wouldn't need a masters. Um, I've gotta go check something now.

Love to the fashion forward two year old (though is she fashion forward if she wants these things before she sees what they look like?).