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Archive for August 8th, 2008

The smallest effort is not lost,

Each wavelet in the ocean tost

Aids in the ebb-tide or the flow, …

Charles Mackay

The Old and the New

I come to knitting through my mother and crochet through my grandmother. At the age of 8 or 9 I can remember being shown by my grandmother how to crochet. My grandmother was a wonderful woman who crocheted regularly and designed her own patterns. She worked full-time outside the house, not all that common for a woman back in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Her elegant crocheted evening bags were in heavy demand by women, who to me, seemed very worldly and very beautiful. While I don’t have clear recall of the crochet lessons my grandmother gave me, I still have the end product: a beautiful afghan. It is still in excellent condition. It still gives me comfort. Her love for me, woven into each stitch, radiates its warmth when the world around me seems cold.

And while I don’t clearly remember the crochet lessons, some of what she taught me of the art remained. For when I began to explore crochet in earnest in my 40s the language and techniques were familiar and stirred a part of me that had been untouched for so long. Though I consider myself primarily an knitter, I have an appreciation and love of crochet.

I was also 8 or 9 when my mother tried to teach me to knit.  Unlike her mother, my grandmother, she did not crochet.  What I remember most was that my mother was not a patient teacher.

Knitting was a struggle for me. My knitting stitches were so tight around the needle that I had to wrestle my other needle into each stitch rather than gently insert it. Knitting hurt my hands. But those unsuccessful attempts at knitting did not stop me from picking it up again when I was in my 40s. And while I needed to relearn the language and techniques, knitting quickly came to be the dominate fiber art for me.

I basically learned knitting by following pattern after pattern.  In following the patterns I studied what each stitch did, how it worked with others. Thought about what the designer of the pattern was doing, how she achieved her goals. When I began to alter patterns to suit my tastes it was not long before I was designing my own patterns.

Nothing is lost.  I have been through a number of large, life-altering events in my 52 years which have understandably left their marks. But who would have thought that at 8 years old, the simple afternoons I spent learning to crochet and knit would resonate so over time?

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