...well at one time I couldn't, really seriously couldn't knit. That may be because the first time I was exposed to this activity it was not by choice. I was in 5th or 6th grade and all of the girls were given a knitting project that happened to be socks. I think the boys may have been given woodworking at this stage but I don’t really know. I would have liked that much better. This was the first time most of us had knitted and the idea was that we would knit these navy blue ankle socks that we would wear when we headed out to high school at the age of 12 years old. The high school uniform was navy. First of all there was no way I would have worn them had I managed to finish more than one of them and secondly I didn't know how to knit and probably did not have much interest in the subject. To add to that it was a communal pattern (no photocopies then) and on four double pointed needles to begin with, so how was all of this going to work. There were more tears spilled over this project than over long division sums or those math questions with four men in the ditch and how long it would take to dig the hole scenarios. I am a quick learner and should have realized that back then. I did manage to knit the cuff and from what I can remember it looked good and "tight” (remember this word because it is significant). I worked my way to the heel, still looking good and the teacher said "so what we do now is turn the heel" (could have been in Latin to me- had no idea what she was talking about). I took the project home, minus the communal pattern, and my mother gave it a go to no successful end. On the Sunday my Mother rounded us up (well, three of us) and we headed out on a long journey to my aunts house. Now my aunt, my mothers sister, had knitted socks before apparently and she gave it a go...it worked but looked really funny. At school I was told it was not correct and I had to rip it out...I don't recall how it all finished other than the yarn, half done sock, four double pointed knitting needles all in a wee bag, haunted me for the longest time. I believe my mother gave the "project" to someone that mentioned that they knitted socks and in those days a free pair of socks or the materials with means to knit a pair was a really nice gift.
When I got to high school there was a domestic class in third year and you had to knit a sweater. So now I have leapt from the sock nightmare to a sweater in a few years. It was an all girl’s school and there were a few in the class that were fabulous knitters...in fact knitted above and beyond the requirements producing two sweaters and maybe gifts for family and friends. I was in awe and obviously over my head. There was also the middle of the road group that were knitting to schedule and requirements and some that were having difficulty. Then there was me. I had maybe eight inches of a stocking stitch sweater that when knitting a plain or purl stitch I had to fight the sucker to the floor almost to get the needle into the stitch...it was crazy...my hands and fingers hurt...the teacher would come by and look and say " I don't know how yours is so tight"? Roll forward another few years and my sister who was eight years older than I was and then expecting her first child, first grandchild for both families... turning out to be first nephew. She was a beautiful knitter. She had the nicest patterns, all the accessories and bought beautiful yarn. I’m not sure who taught her. In any event, I would watch her knit in front of the fire in the winter nights (he was born in June) and it looked so relaxing and her projects were perfect and baby soft. She would encourage me to try it and I would howl back and say she was dreaming. One night she demanded (as she often did) that I knit something for the baby (it showed love etc) and handed me needle, pattern and yarn...she cast on and by the end of the night we not only had a wonderful time chatting, drinking tea and laughing a lot (there were many rip outs) I produced a baby bootee for my nephew Mark (she finished the other one). The other thing we found out is that I had been knitting into the back of the stitches which was why the knitting was so “tight”…where is that domestic science teacher? We laughed a lot about that and the trouble it caused me, knitting into the front of the stitch like any normal person would was so easy for me. This gave me the confidence to carry on. I was 16 years old then.
My first project when I was 19 years old was a sweater for me...when my sister and her friend (both excellent knitters) looked at the pattern they did not think I could do it. I certainly proved them wrong and wore that sweater for quite some time. It was beige in colour (what else was I going to pick) and had a collar and three buttons down the front which was the style back then. It had a twisted type of stocking stitch that I haven’t come across since which gave it some texture and the rib was stocking stitch with one plain row and then it was stitched back. I never looked back from there and knitted baby clothes for my first child, a girl. Foreby the usual baby sets I produced at great speed one item I remember was a duffel coat that was handed down to my niece and my sister (the beautiful knitter) was in awe of it. An aran sweater and hats and lots of other knitted items, I always had something on the go. I did some knitting for my second child, a boy, 7 years later but with a busy life (immigrated to a new country and started a whole new life) a hot summer ( he was born in June) and no real access to up to the minute patterns and yarn I lost interest so to speak. Those years were packed with living…raising children, buying houses and embarking on a new career for both my other half and I. I tried sewing for a while and bought Vogue patterns and fabulous textiles for dresses, pants and suits (for me) which held my interest for a while. Every now and again I would knit something, anything, because I could. My son wanted a shawl collared sweater around the age of 16 and I produced that in a bark type pattern. I also knitted some Fair Isle patterned sweaters back then and my “got to do it " project was a rose sweater knitted in the round for my daughter.
The pattern and yarn were in a local knitting store window which had recently opened its doors and I plowed in one day and picked it up...$100.00 in total....now this was an investment and I did an amazing job on it on the first circular needles that I had worked with. I should rip it out now and use the fabulous yarn but I just can’t do it.
My work life took me all over Canada and the U.S as well as overseas and for many years that was my focus (as well as my normal family life) but I loved what I did. I still knitted the odd sweater for my family in those busy times.
In 2001 along came a little guy by the name of Euan who stole my heart away. My life changed dramatically. I remember his first word to me and the action that went with it, the time of day it was and the exact location and of course the expression on his face. If anyone has claimed that they have seen a spirit, or an angel appeared to them or God...then this must be what it felt like. This little grandson would need some knitted items for sure (they showed love after all). He had a little blue cabled hooded sweater (like the duffel I did earlier) that I knitted just for him amongst other wee things. We would wear it on him for fall walks with the buggy...it was him, and it matched his blue eyes perfectly. A Debbie Bliss roll collared sweater was his Mum’s favourite as it showed her boy getting bigger around 3 years old. He was always thinking and puzzling over things...nothing could be simple for him...his curls were dark, shiny and huge on his head. Today he still thinks things through, is very logical and smart. He gets it!
13 months later the little” round head” appeared...more precious that life itself. With my grandsons arrival he was hours in the birth canal producing a pointy head…so this little fast paced birth was different and typical of her. Another Gemini in the family (they are unique) and no matter what trials and tribulations she has experienced “she was always smiling" and still is. A grand daughter that tells it like it is and furrows her brow when you ask a stupid question (on purpose) with an energy that cannot be contained and a brain as big as a barn. She shoots out the door to go call on her friend the same way she arrived in the world that day...it is all fast paced with her.
The pink Debbie Bliss bobble cardi is hers at 6 months (she tried it on as a shrug not so long ago) and I knitted it with so much love I am sure you can tell by looking at it or just touching it…feel the love. The brambling jackets and some other items that have come and gone were made specifically for her as that resembles who she is...loves horses and excellent rider...a girly , girl when she wants to be...the Gemini, sometimes fancy and sometimes horsey
Now I look back and those feelings were there for my own two children ten fold. I was often in awe of what they did, what they said and always aware of their hurts and fears. I was surprised that we got through each day with so much happiness in all that we did and had to do to get through life. As you go through a busy life you know this but don’t get hung up on it everyday. We keep moving forward and I am now thinking I should have stood still longer…what difference would it have made if the supper was 20 minutes later and that shirt was not ironed.
It seems it takes a grand kid to knock your socks off and allow you to recall and relive the moment. Love is all around (is that a song?). My mother expressed this often and would say “they grow up fast, enjoy the moment”. Most grandmothers/fathers would agree and I believe our mothers today are better at it which may have something to do with having your kids at a later age/ stage in life.
So now I am in my element and focused ( I think). My knitting has taken its rightful place in my life and reflects who I am. A simply complicated woman of many colours (talents/ yarn) that have just been scoped out and realized. My stash is organized and my queue awaits…each garment is a challenge and the outcome an achievement...as in life…how wonderful.
It's a beautiful life