My birthday is tomorrow and I’ve been thinking of my grandmother a lot. She past away almost two years ago, but I miss having her around for my birthday. She is the woman who taught me how to knit. She was a columnist who worked from home; as such she was often tasked with watching my brother and I on snow days and school vacations. She taught me to knit and purl and I would turn out trapezoid shaped strips as I churned out knits and purls in whatever random combination I wanted. I was never very good at having the right number of stitches on the needles, and my knitting was filled with accidental increases. My grandma could never be considered a good teacher. She never encouraged or taught me how to knit a useful object, and she always ripped out my knitting when she saw how many accidental increases there were. I think she is the reason that I’m a process knitter. From the very beginning I knit for the sake of knitting, not with the intention of making a hat or a scarf. She never taught me to cast on or bind off, so knitting was mostly an activity at grandmas house. I didn’t touch needles once I was old enough to stay home alone. It wasn’t until I was living on my own for the first time that I picked up the pointy sticks again. I had just started my first job after college and couldn’t afford Christmas presents. I picked up some needles and yarn at a big box store and cranked out feather and fan scarves for everyone that year. I needed to teach myself how to cast on, yarn over and decrease, but the knits and purls came right back to me.
I still think of my grandma every time I knit. She learned to knit because she was a child of the Great Depression. Her knitting was always more utilitarian then mine, and I’m not sure she ever got the same joy out of it that I get. She would crank out intarsia sweaters for everyone. The kid’s sweaters wear knit out of practical acrylic, and the adults got basic wool. I still have and use the afghan she made for me when I went away for college.