School letting out for the summer meant one thing to me growing up — spending two weeks at my grandmother’s house in Pennsylvania. It was easily the highlight of my year.
She took me to get my ears pierced (which irritated my mother to no end), we fished and played around the lake in her paddle boat, and she was flexible about the whole dinner before dessert thing.
But most importantly, my grandmother taught me how to knit.
Knitting has stayed with me my entire life. My son has hand knitted blankets and stuffed animals, my husband has a long-tailed ski hat, my mother completely freaks out if one of her cats happens to lay on the afghan that I knitted for her a few years ago.
I’ve made sweaters for my niece and nephew, shawls for aunts, and wool socks for cousins. Pretty much anyone who comes into my life for any extended period of time ends up with something or other that I’ve made.
And whether it’s a dish cloth, or the most intricately cabled pillow you’ve ever seen — it’s all made with the same ingredients: yarn, time and love.
I don’t knit as much as I used to, which is to say that I have one or two projects going on instead of my usual five or six. My yarn hoarding has yielded to the demands of work and motherhood, and now I normally only pull out my needles in the hours between dinner and bed.
Also, I have a 2-year-old who is worse than any cat when he spots a ball of yarn. He can unravel months of work in three unsupervised minutes. I’ve seen him do it …
Nowadays knitting is usually associated with little old ladies in rocking chairs. That wasn’t always the case. Now, I’m not going to go into a “back in my day” tirade, because I’m only 33 years old and “back in my day” would consist largely of the 1980’s.
But it used to be that newspapers would regularly print knitting patterns for household items like curtains and tablecloths. Babies born were swaddled lovingly in soft blankets that would end up being passed down from one generation to the next. I myself was bundled up every winter in warm mittens, hats and scarves knitted by my grandmother to go play in the snow.
I worry that it’s a dying art. I belong to two knitting clubs in the Upstate, and in both I am by far the youngest member. Knitting is a useful skill, and the ability to make something beautiful out of nothing but a ball of string and some sticks is something that shouldn’t be lost in this technological age we live in.
My grandmother passed away several years ago. When my father came to visit me a few months after her death, he brought for me her collection of knitting needles. Now I create things for my family and friends with the same wooden needles that her hands touched, the same ones that created so many memories and treasured heirlooms.
They are the tools that can make you feel all warm and fuzzy — on the outside as well as in.