My grandmother taught me how to knit. She must have been doing a project in the living room, and I must have been watching. Raptly. “Can you teach me?” I might have said. After all, I had a brand new pair of plastic knitting needles- one yellow and one red, with little animals on top- that had come in a craft kit. In no time at all, I was set up with my own yarn and 10 stitches at the ready. It was good that it didn’t take long to learn because my Gram was only able to visit once a year, for about a whole month.
Soon, my brothers were sitting, watching, raptly. “Can you teach me too?” Although they were missing colorful needles adorned with animals, my gram set their 10 stitches up on pencils, and my brothers and I labored away for a week, silent in our chairs, stretching our fingers and gaining muscle memory.
Teaching was nothing new to her. She handled classrooms of middle school students in her professional life. She loved it, and they loved her. But when it came to us mirroring her hands, she suddenly got confused. My Gram is left-handed, and dyslexic. My brothers and I are right handed. She did her best to teach us, and we ended up doing everything exactly like her hands.
Before she left, we took a trip to the local Ben Franklin store, where we stocked up on yarn and she bought me a pair of aluminum needles that were much sleeker that my plastic pair. I wandered around the store for a while, and when I returned to her side, she introduced me to a woman with the signature red apron of all the store’s personnel. Although Ben Franklin isn’t in business any more, I still remember the woman’s name. “This is Naomi,” she introduced me. “If you have a problem, just bring your project over and Naomi will help you after I leave to go home.”
Throughout my teenage years, I knit while watching tv. I got so good I didn’t have to look at what I was doing. Scarves, blankets for my stuffed animals, bags, anything squarish and longish rolled off my needles, by this time aluminum and matching in color, size 7’s. I made projects for the state fair and wash cloths by the dozens.
When I learned to drive, the first place my gram allowed me to take her was Michael’s craft store. After that, I’m sure we must have gotten ice cream. I grew up, learned to drive, and felt important, but my gram’s contagious love for ice cream reminded me of being a little girl again. But that’s tomorrow’s story.
Not until I was older did I attempt to use round needles for a project, and even then under the supervision of my gram and aunt; I knit a navy blue hat out of soft, thin yarn, during my junior year spring break.
These past few years, I finally experimented with switching colors mid-project. This technique I had to look up online, but my gram was one of the first to hear the news of my exciting progression.
These days, my Pinterest account features a collection of knitting projects on my Hooks and Needles board, one of my most project laden areas. Matching hats and scarves, blankets, stuffed toys for my niece and nephew. One thing I have no desire to try are socks, as my gram makes the best ones herself and gives them away readily at any hint of admiration. Many patterns I have planned for the future feature stitches and techniques that I have yet to master, and it makes me sad knowing my Gram will not always be there to show me how, but I will press on.
No one else can teach me the same way she did.
My grandmother taught me how to knit. As a left handed person.