In 1989, my family and I were living in Melissa, Texas, having relocated from the northshore of Boston, Massachusetts the year before, and we welcomed my paternal grandparents for a visit, their first and only during our four years there. It was during this visit that my grandmother, Marion, tried (in vain, as it was) to teach me to knit. Before our relocation (and after our return), I loved watching her knit. I was mesmerized at how she crafted afghans, rugs, sweaters, etc, simply by using two needles, yarn, and her hands. After her passing in January 1996, someone estimated that she made approx. eighty afghans during her lifetimes, each of which roughly forty hours to complete. She sat by my side and handed me a pair of short needles with ivory-colored yarn looped about one of them. I'm not certain how long we sat there, but I couldn't grasp all the twists with the skeins, positioning my hands, and coorindating the needles. Eventually,the towel was thrown in, despite her insistence that my hands and long fingers were just "perfect" for knitting. I promised her that one day I would learn.
The years haven't diminish my desire to keep the promise. I don't think there's many girls who, even during their teens, walk longingly by the knitting section of craft stores, wishing they could master it in some capacity, but I did. It was a reminder of what was left undone, a promise not kept. Until now.
I've always relished learning skills that, though no longer hold much relevancy now, ties me closer to my connection with the past. Of course, some of these skills are now in vogue, or at least have enjoyed a renewal recently: homemade bread, sewing, etc. I've recently entertained the thought of learning to spin, doubtful if anyone in the area offered the service only to find a new growth of classes devoted to this task. I've even learned how to make my own butter, though this mayn't be something everyone wishes to take on. I tend to think it is my love of history that imbues me with the desire to take these things on--to acquire the skills that made up day to day tasks of my grandmothers of further generations back; it ties me to them.
And so it is with knitting. One of my lovely neighbors offered very kindly to teach me, even supplying me with needles and a ball of yarn. Although our first lesson was cut rather short by the antics of my children, I carried on at home, and found many video tutorials on youtube to assist me. I feel a deep sense of pride wielding my needles now, knowing, slowly but surely, I am keeping my promise to Nana. I find it a very soothing activity, and am enjoying the process, even when my two year old son pulls off a row of somewhat tidy stitches, necessitating a restart. It has meant a great deal to keep this promsie to my grandmother, and even more to know I shall hold this connection with her now.