I think of my grandmother a lot around Easter -- a time of year that usually meant a new outfit from her Singer. I still have a few of the dresses, and a gorgeous designer suit. My daughter wore them on her own Easters, and, like my mother before me, all I had to provide was the round hat and patent-leather shoes.
I am sure my grandmother would have been thrilled if I had learned to sew. She tried -- but I was not only abysmally untalented with a needle -- I also loathed it. As a mother, I made sure my kids learned early how to sew on buttons, mostly so I could avoid it myself.
But mostly, Grandma was a maker. She took next-to-nothing and made it spectacularly "something." And she encouraged me to find my own way to be a maker too.
When I saw a neighbor girl knitting, and thought I'd like to give it a try, Grandma got me needles, cool flecked yarn, a pattern for two -needle mittens and a little workbag.
She knew enough to show me a backward-loop cast-on and the basic knit and purl stitches. And she knew enough not to nag me about my little project.
I didn't finish the mittens -- and I don't know what happened to them. I didn't take up knitting again for 20 years, when books taught me all the techniques and tricks my grandmother didn't know. And then you couldn't stop me from making things -- baby sweaters, Christmas stockings, Aran sweaters, intarsia, lace -- even the top to my wedding dress.
So, my grandmother didn't exactly teach me how to knit ...
But I still have at least one of the needles she gave me
and the pattern book -- somewhere.
and have acquired the love of making things that my grandmother passed on as her legacy.
For that, I am forever in her debt.