I was in the shop on Saturday teaching a Sock Class. Upstairs was the Learn to Knit Class. As the students came back down after class, I overheard some of their comments. A few were buying yarn to jump right into their first solo projects. Others exclaimed how they had always wanted to learn, but put it off or how happy they were to have taken the class.
It got me thinking about how I learned to knit. The stereotype is that one’s Grandmother was their first instructor…well, that holds true for me. Both my Grandmother and her sister practiced the needle arts. My Grandmother was the knitter and my Great Aunt Anna crocheted. I well remember the sweaters, slippers and snowsuits that Grandma Motto made us. Many items were passed down among siblings and cousins. When I was in high school I wore a sweater she had made for my Mom when she was in high school 30+ years before.
As an adult I would travel back up to Brooklyn, NY for a weekend with Grandma and Aunt Anna. We would spend the entire visit sitting around the kitchen table. There we’d be, Grandma and I with our needles and Aunt Anna with her hook. As our hands moved in practiced motion, these two wonderful ladies would tell stories about their parents and siblings, raising my Mom, her brother and cousin, and recalling moments in history such as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in 1911 and Armistice Day (November 11, 1919).
I learned about Dish Night at the 5 cent movie which was a clever gimmick designed to keep movie theaters operating during the Depression in the 1930s. Along with your theater ticket you received a piece of china from a dinnerware set. Sure enough, people filled the theaters each week in order to complete their place settings. A few of Grandma’s Dish Night dishes are in my kitchen.
I learned so much family history around that yarn covered table. I’ve no idea just how many hours were spent there. I not only learned how to knit, but I got glimpses of my Grandmother’s life that I don’t think I would have otherwise. Knitting provided the way to a very special relationship with them.
I hope these new knitters will forge similar relationships with friends and family. Perhaps they will pass the skill on to their children, grandchildren, or others. There is an air of trust that surrounds fellow knitters that is derived from the love of the craft. This trust enables us to have more meaningful conversations; share our innermost thoughts, and be more open to differing views and ideas. The act of shared knitting (or crocheting) can truly graft extraordinary bonds of friendship. Give it a try.