My grandmother, Batool, was an accomplished knitter and tailor. She had a small home business for sewing and alterations. She made my wedding dress, and all of my bridesmaids’ dresses. Growing up, everyone in our family wore her sweaters, hats, mittens, scarves. She never used a pattern. She made up her own designs and took measurements and went from there.
She did NOT teach me how to knit.
No, unfortunately, I was not in the least bit interested in textile arts. I was more interested in drawing and painting, and photography. And so it stayed that way until I was in my 30s. My grandmother passed away in 2006.
In the winter of 2005, we had already moved back to our house, which went through construction of a second floor. I was an at-home mom, with a 4-year old daughter in preschool and a toddler son. The house was twice as big as before, but there was a lot of empty space, because we didn’t have enough furniture to fill it. I was pretty isolated…just me and the boy. In the dead of winter.
Except for once a week, my friend Marcy and I would meet for a “playdate.” It was initially a playdate for our baby boys. But ultimately was a sanity-date for us moms. I had recently reconnected with at her the grocery store, after not having seen her in about 2-3 years. We originally met at daycare, where our firstborns went while we still had full-time jobs. Marcy’s son was the same age as mine. We’d get together and let our babies play while we sat and drank coffee and talked. I really looked forward to those visits. We’d trade off. One week I’d go to her house, next week she’d come to mine.
One day she turned to me and said, “Lee, you need to learn how to knit.” I was 34. I had never knit a day in my life. My grandmother was the knitter, not me. I laughed at her comment. No way, I can’t knit! I’d never have the patience for it, forget it. Marcy disagreed. She said she would teach me but I definitely needed to learn how to knit. I didn’t understand why she felt that way, and it seemed important to her.
The next week, she taught me how to do the long tail cast-on. She showed me how to knit that first row…which was so tight. I could barely get my needle into the stitches. I kept forgetting the motion of how to make the stitch. I kept dropping stitches. I was forcing the needles so much. That week following, there were many phone calls to her to double-check my method to see what I was doing wrong. I had to start over many times because I couldn’t pick up the rhythm. Eventually, I flopped down on my bed and cried my eyes out. I felt like such a stupid failure because I couldn’t knit a single row.
After a few minutes of sobbing, I sat up at my bed. Looked at my feet on the floor, took a few breaths, and shuffled to the computer. Looked up a video and imitated what I saw, slowly, until I was able to finish a row. And then I knit another row. And another.
The rest is history.