Something that Struck Me

I’m reading Adrienne Martini’s wonderful book Sweater Quest: my year of knitting dangerously.”, and something on Page 167 struck me.

Ms. Martini is talking about a conversation she had with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot, who had described the day her grandma taught her to knit. Ms. Pearl-McPhee’s words were, “I remember thinking that this was very important. I wasn’t sure why or how, I just knew I had learned something really significant.”

Ms. Martini then noted that, “Unlike for most of the knitters I know, the connection between Stephanie and the craft was immediate.”

The reason this struck me was that that’s how I felt when Mom taught me to knit. I had been watching her knit, and begging her to teach me. She kept insisting I was too young (I was about 5), but finally cast on about 20 stitches on a pair of needles she wasn’t using, and showed me how to make knit and purl stitches. She was sure that I would lose interest, when it was hard, but for some reason, when I made mistakes it only made me more determined to get it right. I was just totally fascinated with the whole idea.

After I spent months practicing stockinette stitch, rib, and basketweave, Mom showed me the book of patterns she used to make outfits for my Barbie dolls. I was even more hooked for life, if that was possible. I made all the patterns except the crocheted wedding dress (Mom made that one for me, because it took me longer to master the basics of crochet). Oddly, my father taught me to crochet, because my mother got frustrated with trying to show me how to make the beginning of a round for granny squares. Pop taught himself, then taught me. Shawls and sampler afghans became favorites, along with the doll clothes.

I slavishly followed instructions for various projects until I was about 12. The I tried something new: making something by improvising and adding what I had learned to what was in the book. The result was a mock Chanel suit for my doll. White cotton knitted shell, earth-tone jacket, skirt and hat bordered in pink single crochet. A friend of my parents’ saw this outfit, and commissioned me to make a set of doll clothes for his daughter’s Barbie doll.

Still, it all goes back to seeing Mom knitting. Watching her, I became fascinated. I had no idea then that the fascination would last so long or be so steady (unlike many knitters and crocheters, I did not put it away during or after college). If pressed, I could not tell you what it was that drew me to drive Mom crazy begging her to teach me to knit.

In retrospect, it was probably the smartest thing I ever did, because my love affair with knitting, crocheting, handspinning (another story altogether), and yarn in general continues unabated. In fact, it continues to grow. I love trying new yarn, and new patterns. I am obsessed with sock knitting, with shawls (afghans have kind of gone by the wayside), with textured knitting (cables, fisherman knits, etc.), and with lace. I also love reading about knitting, chatting with knitters, and sitting with friends, knitting and talking.

Yes, I am one of those women for whom the connection to the craft was immediate, hard, and enduring. And I am happy that it happened that way.

Thank you, so much, Ms. Martini, for nailing it so elegantly!


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