Thursday, April 07, 2011

Not my grandmother's knitting

My grandmother didn't knit. But she did sew. If there was a scrap of fabric lying around, Grandma made into something beautiful or useful, or both. My Skipper doll (Mom didn't believe in Barbie) had the best outfits in the neighborhood. My favorite was her fully-lined red wool suit with bracelet-length sleeves -- it would have done Coco Chanel proud.

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.


Deniselace said...

Elizabeth, I love reading your blog! You are a wonderful writer. But I want to know why this post is labeled scranton.

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize that great grandma had made that jacket, that is really sweet!