Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Every Stitch is a Connection

When I started knitting just about a year ago, I had no idea it would become a part of my daily life. I never dreamed that wrapping yarn around a pair of needles would be so meaningful.

It was a whim, really. My friend Harriet invited me to attend a Stitch 'N Bitch party she was throwing one Sunday afternoon. I wasn't even particularly interested in knitting, but any chance to mingle with other grown women without small children crawling all over the place is an opportunity I'm not willing to miss. I figured I could go for the bitch (girl talk), if not the stitch.

What happened has amazed my family, friends, and myself. I took to knitting like the proverbial duck to water. I came home with a borrowed pair of needles and ball of yarn and couldn't put them down. Within a week, I had learned to purl as well as knit, and as every knitter knows, those two stitches are all it takes to make just about anything you want.

I still count myself a beginner, though I have now accomplished blankets, dishclothes, felted slippers, self-designed doll clothes, scarves, sweaters, and even a dress-up fairy outfit. The yarn stash spilling from my closet and various bags around the house attests to my full immersion in the world of knitting, as does my ever-growing stack of pattern books and the vase filled with needles on my mantle.

So what is it that I like about knitting so much? Well, it's relaxing. It truly is an almost meditative experience, with the repetitive movements and the soft, slow wind of yarn around a needle. It's also a great form of creative expression, because the results are so tangible. Not only can you create a work of knitted art, but you can use it!

Still, there's something deeper in knitting for me, something that has been there since I began, though it took me a while to acknowledge its importance. That something is my late grandmother, Bessie Hunt.

Growing up, my family lived on the opposite side of the country from my grandparents, so I only saw them on infrequent summer visits. Still, my grandmother showered me with homemade gifts - quilts, dolls, and yes, plenty of knitted slippers and hats. She made exquisite cable-knit dresses, sweaters, and coats for my proto-Barbie doll, and I still have some of them to this day. They are amazing creations. My grandmother even tried to teach me to knit one summer, with wonderful patience and love, but of course I promptly forgot it all as soon as I was home and she was far away.

It wasn't long after I'd started knitting that my mom remarked on how proud my grandmother would be. And that's when it struck me. Every time I pick up needles and yarn, she is there with me. I can feel her presence and I know that there is something in the way my hands move that mirrors her own. With every stitch, I pay tribute to my grandmother. With every knit and purl, she lives again through me. We are connected by a shared love of needles and yarn.


Harriet said...

Sharon, I also love the connection to my knitting granny while I knit!

My mother once read a lovely article about how some women are wild about the yarn itself - choosing it at the shop, feeling it, the colours, and just the joy of "having" it in their stash at home. I think you have a strong element of that too! I think my mother said there was a lot of psychology to the the "yarn stash" thing - heck, there's a lot of psychology to knitting! A book needs to be written! H XXX

Harriet said...

PS - you totally learned your knitting from Grandma, too. When you knitted at my house for the "first" time, you already knew how and all you needed was someone to cast on the first row and give you a little nudge. Your hands already knew what to do!

Debra Broughton said...

I love the idea that knitting connects you to your grandmother.

Sharon Hurlbut said...

Harriet - I may have learned the basics from my grandmother, but I would never have taken it up again if not for you. Thank you!!

Debra - Thanks! I love feeling that I'm a part of something that has been going on for a long time and while continue after me.