Knitted in Your Mother’s Womb
What mortal hand can e're untieThe filial band that knits me to thy rugged strand.
Sir Walter Scott 1771-1832 – The Lay of the Last Minstrel
|Little Owl cardigan for my grandniece|
|Silk and wool vareigated lace weight|
|Handspun merino wool lace weight knit-on edge|
|Variegated wool sock weight with crochet edge|
My mother introduced me to knitting when I was about ten years old but I was significantly helped along by a neighborhood friend a couple of years older who at least knew the knit and purl stitches. Mom’s help was limited. She could not follow written directions and made all of her gorgeous boucle tops via step-by step instructions at the local yarn store. I remember a white blouse with evenly spaced black jet hanging beads and another with a checkerboard motif highlighting the scoop neck. Every Brooklyn neighborhood had at least one yarn emporium in which a sorority of knitters filled chairs pushed up against walls bearing floor to ceiling shelves of woolen fiber in a riot of color. In high school I decided to knit a real sweater for the first time. Mom was not encouraging and warned that she could not help me with directions. But the older sister of a friend promised I could do it under her guidance. The rest is history. Most of the people I have loved in my life received products of hasty needles performing in the rythym of the continental style of western European knitting.
I tell friends that if I sit in front of the TV without any needlework in my hands they can safely assume that I am dead tired. Years ago, when I began to find myself at many and various meetings, especially evening meetings following a long day of work, knitting came along to keep me attentive and awake. This seems counter intuitive but knitters universally report this phenomenon. We always have a simple project put aside as ‘meeting knitting”. This knitting also helps me to keep my mouth shut. There is also some truth in what Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the author of At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much, declares: “...the number one reason knitters knit is because they are so smart that they need knitting to make boring things interesting. Knitters are so compellingly clever that they simply can't tolerate boredom. It takes more to engage and entertain this kind of human, and they need an outlet or they get into trouble… knitters just can't watch TV without doing something else. Knitters just can't wait in line, knitters just can't sit waiting at the doctor's office. Knitters need knitting to add a layer of interest in other, less constructive ways.”
|Natural handspun lace weight|
Today knitting has enjoyed a great revival, especially in its appeal to the young, and not just women. Taught one of my own sons how to knit as we enjoyed a pre-concert picnic on the great lawn of Tanglewood, the Bershires summer home of the Boston Symphony, in Massachusetts. Later he said, “Mom, now I know why you love doing this.”
(everything knitters want to know about knitting and a zillion patterns)
Book: No Idle Hands: The Social History of Knitting by Anne L. MacDonald