Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Alpha...

I don't remember when I started knitting—Well not precisely. Why would I? I didn't think it would be important at the time.

Likewise I don't remember when I learned to read. I know, before I started school I could read words (Stop, one way, sale, and a bunch of other words—street signs and store signs and other words)
At some point I learned that words could be strung into sentences, and sentences paragraphs, and together, the words and sentences made stories (or sense!)But I don't remember when that happened.

In the summer of 1960—I (along with my siblings) spend 4 months at my maternal grandparents house in Dublin Ireland. My grandfather (Poppa) had be diagnosed with a un-treatable (at the time) infection, that was life threatening, (and would be the death of him 3 years later.)

My mother wanted us to spend time with him while he still could get around and wasn't too sickly.

My grandparents had a big old fashioned radio (the PHILIPS as they called it, from the Dutch electronics giant) but no TV. Their house was a 'council house'--and they had one at the end of the row, so it was attached on only 1 side, and had a larger than average front and back yard. ( A search on Google map shows, the house they lived in, now has the only off street parking space on the block)

For entertainment on rainy days we watched the flames of the fire-- My grandmother was quite proud of the fact that GOOD ATHRACITE was burned (not peat) and it was my first introduction into different kinds of coal. We children were banned from going in the coal shed--(I had special privileges!--but that's another story!)

My memories of that summer are strong—10 years later, on a return visit, I remembered almost the entire bus route, from downtown Dublin to Drimnaugh-- and 20 years later, when watching a PBS special, I recognized country roads from my childhood visit--partly because so little had changed (especially in the country-side) and partly because, well I did!)

Much of the leisure time of my mother and grand mother and visiting aunts was spent knitting.
I watch the knitting, too. All of the women (relatives and visiting friends) knit with demon speed.

Have you seen the video some one took of the Yarn Harlot knitting? She knits so fast the small video image blurs—her knitting is faster than the camera can capture!--But to me, she knits normal.

Her speed is normal to me, since every knitter I knew in my childhood knit just as fast! I, too, knit pretty fast, but not as fast as the Yarn Harlot does, or my mother did. I don't strive for speed—but part of my introduction to knitting was fast knitting.. so I think fast knitting as normal.

That summer frequently found me sitting on the floor; alternately watching the fire, entranced by the dancing flames, or watching the knitting and flying fingers.

That fall (of 1960) I began to knit. When? I dunno.. sometime after we arrived home to NY, late fall (it was dark by dinner time) but before Thanksgiving.

But I don't (and didn't) think of what I was doing as knitting. I was casting on, I was making garter stitch and stocking knit, and even some ribbing. I was also making a lot of mistakes, and making nothing at all; just casting on, trying out stitches, unraveling and trying again. I don't remember when I “GOT IT”; when it was that I felt I had mastered the knit stitch, and could knit.

I know I took up knitting needles about 50 years ago (and have never put them down for long since then) But I do know, that by May of 1961—when I bought my first set of needles (vs using my mothers) and my first balls of yarn (MY choice of yarn! instead of left over bits in the knitting basket) I believed I could knit--And knit anything at all.

Those first needles were size 3 DPN's--(35cents!) and the yarn was 2 skeins of fingering wool 1 in pink, 1 in blue, and my first project was a skirt for doll—knit in the round, and worked in a simple stranded pattern. I didn't have a pattern to follow—I just made one up (and failed to plan well enough—there were incomplete repeats—but I didn't care! ) and plowed ahead.

That fall, fifty years ago, was the alpha of a interest that has lasted me most of my lifetime!


Ruth said...

I learned from both my mother and my aunt at the same time. One knit in front and the other in back of the stitch. We all knit Continental style. I also fell in love with it, and now am knitting almost 50 years. This has been interspersed with my second love: embroidery, specifically anything counted. I guess I just like grids. Isn't it amazing that we never get bored with it? There's always something new to try out or play with.

Virginia G said...

Happy knitaversary!

That was a truly wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it with us. I kind of want to go hang out in a house in Dublin and knit in front of the fire.

JelliDonut said...

That's a lovely story. So glad you shared it. Some day I hope to travel to Ireland.

I actually remember the very instance I learned to read. I swear I had that "ah ha!" moment, when I realized that the letters together made words, and the words together made stories. That was the moment I knew I could learn to do anything.