A few years ago I asked my mom to show me how to knit. She taught me some basic stitches and gave me a copy of her knitting guide from when she was in high school. I practiced a few of the stitch combinations in the guide but didn’t really do much besides knit a little and tear out my work. The stitches listed in the guide book were the first and only combination stitches that I had ever practiced and I think there were maybe 10 or so different pattern stitches. I practiced a few of the easy ones and didn’t even attempt the cable stitches. I thought the diagrams were confusing and hard to see the stitches clearly. My interest faded because I wasn’t sure what to do and I ended up putting my knitting supplies aside.
I’m not sure what prompted me to think about knitting again, but last Christmas I decided that a “handmade holiday” would always be more special than a purchased gift. At the last minute (about 2 weeks before Christmas holiday) I give myself a goal of knitting Christmas gifts for all the kids in my family! After knitting 7 Christmas scarves, I felt more inspired than ever to keep knitting. I was so proud to make something for my cousins, niece and nephews and it really was a lot of fun. Since Christmas, I have watched dozens of YouTube videos, read countless blog posts, and downloaded new patterns to try that are more challenging than a simple scarf. If I had known about all of the video resources available online, I don’t think I would have given up so easily 4 years ago.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the history of knitting in my family. It turns out the women in my family have always loved yarn! My Meemaw was a knitter and when I was a kiddo, I remember watching her throw some stitches from time to time (she was an English style knitter). She always had piles of yarn at her house. I loved looking through her stash and obsessing over all of the pretty colors. I didn’t learn to knit from her but I loved to watch whenever she had needles in her hand and yarn by her side.
My mom taught me how to knit Continental style because I think that was the way that she learned. She learned to knit from her Great Aunt Em. Perhaps the heart of my yarn years started with my Mom’s Great Aunt Em who would be my Great, Great Aunt. She could knit and crochet but I think she enjoyed crocheting more than knitting. She taught me to crochet when I was a little girl. I remember visiting her for the weekend and she would show me how to make a long crochet chain. I would practice while she watched the news and I think my chains just went on forever. I loved to watch her crochet, too. She was so fast and her stitches always looked so beautiful. She kept a mason jar full of crochet hooks and knitting needles of all different colors and sizes. I thought they were all so cool.
She made my brothers and I blankets a few times when we were kids. She was always working a project or two when we visited her house. Yarn always seemed to be the perfect gift for her (as was wine!). Aunt Em crocheted well into her 90’s. Before she set aside her hooks for good, my mom had her crochet some baby blankets. My mom gifted two of Aunt Em’s baby blankets to me when Baby Jane was born which I will cherish forever. One of the blankets was made in 1980 when I was born and the other was made a few years before she passed away. Aunt Em lived to be 100 and whenever I think of her, I think about her beautifully crocheted blankets and it makes me smile.
So all of these wonderful and inspiring women in my family have a long history with playing with yarn. I consider myself a beginner knitter and I really need to practice more techniques before I feel comfortable attempting the patterns that I want to try. I have some pretty lofty knitting goals. I just recently made my very first baby hat and let’s just say it didn’t turn out that great. It’s a little too big for Jane and the stitches don’t look that great. That’s okay though. I have to start somewhere! It takes years of practice and experience to knit and crochet like my Aunt Em. I hope to follow right along in her footsteps so I better get my yarn (and wine) ready!