Today is Mother’s Day – which got me thinking about those relationship in my life, with my mom, my daughters and how knitting relates to both of them…
My mom and I have a complicated relationship – but then again, most mothers and daughters seem to. I can remember back to when I was a small child, feeling so safe and loved as long as my mom was there. That was so very long ago. And I suppose that a part of me has always wanted to find that feeling again – of being safe, warm and loved. I think the closest I’ve ever gotten is when I sit and cuddle with my own daughters. I want to make sure that I’m always there for them – not just physically present, but really there in all the ways necessary.
My mom taught me how to knit a long time ago. I don’t remember how old I was or if I actually finished anything. I do have a clear memory of her showing me how to hold the needles though. She wasn’t a big knitter or anything herself – she dabbled in different crafts all while I was growing up. I think she was looking for something that suited her, and I’m not sure she ever really did. She crocheted for a while too – I remember a striped afghan that I loved that she was working on but never finished. She later told me that the cat used to knead at it with her claws and my mom figured that the afghan would just get ruined once it was done. She said she tried to pick it up a few years later but couldn’t figure out the pattern again.
I wish I knew what happened to it – I would have loved to finish it for her.
Mom also taught me the basics of crocheting – I remember learning to make long chains by finger crocheting, which is basically the chain stitch using your fingers instead of a hook. And later she bought me a spool and taught me spool, or ‘french’ knitting with it. I made long tubes that I turned into scarves for Barbie dolls but never really did much else with it. Later, in college, I tried knitting again, but then took a crocheting class and crocheted for many years instead.
My own oldest daughter is an enigma to me. She’s so much like her father in so many ways, but I do see glimpses of myself in her too. She’s never been a child who would play much with toys. She loved stacking blocks or lining up figurines, but never ‘played’ with them the way most other kids do. She has always loved to make things though – whether with paper and crayons, scissors and tape or any other kind of crafting medium. And when I began to take up knitting again a couple of years ago, she asked me to teach her how.
I didn’t think she was quite old enough at the time, so I followed in my own mother’s footsteps instead. I taught her how to finger crochet, and watched her make chained bracelets and necklaces for herself and her sisters. Then I hunted down a spool and taught her how to slip the loops over to french knit – and smiled to myself to see her take to that quickly too.
And then, I found a very simple, ‘learn to knit’ kit and gave it to her – either for her birthday or Christmas, I forget now and it’s not important. But I sat down with her, cast on a row and showed her the simple knit stitch (which wasn’t easy, because I knit left-handed and she’s a righty).
Since then she’s made herself and her little sister scarves from that kit – with bulky-weight yarn and huge needles. And I’ve bought her a pair of ‘real’ metal needles – still fairly large-sized but more standard, and she’s knit a scarf for her Barbies on those.
She doesn’t have a lot of patience for large projects, and she doesn’t want me to teach her how to purl or do anything more complicated than just the simple knit stitch – yet. But she loves doing it and I know that she must feel close to me when she pulls out her knitting and sits next to me while I’m working on mine.
Safe, and warm, and loved. And I hope – I pray – that knitting will always be a way to help remind her of feeling that way.
Even years down the road when she’s too old to crawl into my lap and snuggle anymore.