by Robin OBrien
One of my earliest childhood memories is learning to knit from my grandmother. Being one of four girls in my family of six children, I was the only who took any interest in it. To do this day, I believe my grandmother and I had a special connection because of our common love of knitting.
My grandmother was a gifted knitter. She was also a very talented at crochet, needlework and was a part-time seamstress. My earliest and most vivid memories of her was when she was doing some sort of needlework. Not only was she a brilliant practitioner of knitting but she was also a great teacher. She possessed what any good teacher has: patience. I am left handed and she was right. How she kept calm, when thinking backwards and trying to teach a child, I'll never know.
I was about eight years old when she taught me the basic chain stitch. During that summer I crocheted a chain that went around the entire outside of my house two times! It was quite the talk of the neighborhood. My mother helped me measure it, though I can't remember how long it was exactly.
I soon progressed to knitting. My most prized possession is my grandmother's collection of needles all wrapped up in a silk needle holder. It was originally given to her by my grandfather as a birthday present. My mother gave them to me some years ago - after my grandfather's death - almost twenty years after the death of my grandmother.
My passion for it lasted into my early twenties but marriage and the early years of raising my own children put a moratorium on it. However, I never gave up needle work entirely, and found myself learning new skills like cross stitching, quilt making and rug hooking.
Then a friend introduced me to hand dyed yarns. I just loved the texture and color of these yarns and I soon began knitting again. I made everything, from scarves and sweaters to felted purses and hats. I now knit constantly, making clothing for friends and family.
It was at the time I rediscovered knitting that my father became very ill. My mother was a keen practitioner during my childhood and I suggested that she take it up again. I thought it would help her to find peace while sitting with my father in the hospital for months. She also discovered the joy of working with hand dyed yarn from companies like Twisted Sisters Yarn and Rio De La Plata Yarn.
I'm sure my father found peace in my mother sitting quietly knitting while he lay there in that hospital bed. I still remember that final day with the family all around his bedside, waiting for him to pass. Waiting for his passing, my mother and I pulled out our needles and yarn and managed to found solace in doing this familiar activity during such a sad time in our lives!
Every Friday night my mother now comes over to my house for supper. She always brings her wool and needles with and we do our projects together. For the most part we sit there in silence, though we are somehow connected - like two balls of wool.
She says that I'm plain nuts when it comes to knitting; she laughs when we take my children to the movies and I have to sit under a dim light so I can do my knitting through the movie!
I'm so happy to have this craft back in my life - it's like a reunion of long lost friends. It brings me such tranquility and calm in this busy world I find myself in. Just as I felt I had a special bond with my grandmother through knitting, I feel I have a stronger bond with my mother because of our love of it. I'm pleased to say that my daughter and one of my sons have even learned.
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