One of my strongest memories of my nanna is her knitting. She was very good and made many a jumper, cardigan, and beanie for my sister and me when we were growing up. I can remember her sitting in her chair by the fireplace and the click-clack-click-clack sound of the needles as she knitted away, often whilst watching TV or having a chat. I distinctly remember thinking she was some kind of wool wizard, to be able to conjure up a jumper AND hold a conversation at the same time (…maybe she was a conversational wizard instead?? #namethatreference).
I’ve tried to harness this so-called magic of knitting myself a few times. Once, when I was about 8, and managed to make a scarf of questionable colours with a (heavy) helping hand from both Nanna and mum. It clearly didn’t sink in though, because I dropped knitting like a hot cross bun soon after. Fast forward more years than I care to admit, to my brief dalliance (oo-er) with crochet just a few years ago. There I was, sitting on the couch next to Mathew, when a flash of inspiration caused me to ask him to teach me the way of the crochet (he is a man of many talents including, but certainly not limited to, crochet and knitting). And so he patiently showed me how to make a granny square, while I swore like a sailor on leave out of sheer frustration. (What the HELL is up with crochet?? What even is a stitch??) Alas, it was not meant to be, crochet and me.
Then, a few weeks ago, in the Christmas break, I asked Mathew if, on the condition that I wouldn’t swear and get aggressive, he’d teach me how to knit. And so I picked up the needles again and gave it a go. There must have been some sort of cosmic alignment or maybe my brain was simply in the right frame of mind, because it just seemed to work this time. I mean, I still struggled at the start and still have some difficulties now, but I found it much easier to ‘get’. I am finally at one with the needles of knit. I’m practically the David Attenborough of knitting.
In reality though, I’ve no idea what I’m doing or what it is that I’m making here (a wonky pot holder is my best guess), but I’m starting to appreciate the lessons I’m already learning along the way. Hear ye, hear ye:
1. Tension is hard. At first, I was clenching everything – the yarn, the needles, my hands, my buttocks – because I was worried whatever it was that I was making would be all over the joint if I didn’t yank the yarn tight after every. single. stitch. This, unsurprisingly, meant I could barely get the needle point into the next stitch (it took me a concerning amount of time to realise that these two acts might be connected, but I blame the tax that learning to knit placed on my brain). I had to make a conscious effort to be a loosey-goosey and when I did, my knitting improved.
Knitting is all about letting goooo, relaxing your hands and your shoulders (and buttocks, apparently). But also:
2. Concentrating. Or else you’ll drop a stitch. Or pick up some other random one from a previous row. Or make a new one somehow. I honestly don’t know how I make half the mistakes I make. Which brings me to:
3. Learning to live with the imperfect. Especially when you’re just starting out. As decided earlier, knitting is some kind of magic. You are creating things literally from winding one (or more) long continuous piece of string around two sticks. It is bizarre and wonderful and not necessarily intuitive to everyone, all the time. Some days it will be easy, other days it will be like pushing something really heavy up a really big hill all by yourself (insert appropriate idiom here please). You’re bound to make mistakes. You’re bound to forget how to do things. And that’s okay; that’s what the internet is for! And Mathews.
I’m very grateful that I’ve become privy to the wonders of knitting. I’ve needed something to keep my mind from obsessing/panicking when I should be unwinding, and knitting seems to fit the bill (see #2). Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go sit in a comfy chair with my knitting needles in hand and watch Gilmore Girls in the background. Thanks for the inspiration, Nanna. I can’t promise I’ll ever be able to make a beanie that my grandchildren will wear to the beach every winter, but I hope I can make you proud nonetheless.
tl;dr: Knitting is magic, needles are wands, and I am a wizard!