Saturday, October 18, 2014

my grandmother taught me to knit

That cranky little girl is me - circa 1960
My grandmother came to the United States as a young women with her two sisters.  They were in their mid-late twenties at the time but decided that might be too old so they each took 5 years off their age when they arrived. (We didn't find this out until she passed away in 1986 and dad went through some of her old papers.) She and my grandfather were born in Scotland but they met in Detroit.  My Aunt Jesse married but Aunt Mary was a strong minded woman, determined to have a career and not get strapped down by marriage and children.  Gramma and Grampa had one child.  Aunt Jesse and Uncle Alex never had children.  When Grampa decided to move the family to California in 1946, Aunt Jesse, Uncle Alex, and Aunt Mary came too.  They lived within blocks of one another until retirement and then they all moved to a retirement community together.

My grandmother taught me to knit when I was about 14.  I imagine there were earlier projects, little squares knit when we visited each summer, but the project I remember was a Christmas stocking.  It was red with a white cuff and heel.  I don't really have a memory of knitting that stocking but I know I did, although I wonder if she might have done some of the more complicated bits like the heel and toe.  But I do remember my grandmother knitting.  She made beautiful sweaters for my mother.  One was a pale blue with pearls stitched into the shoulder area.  She knit a shawl for me to wear to a dance when I was in high school and somehow I managed to hold on to it even though I have never really used it.  

But, other than a very bad attempt to knit another stocking (for the man I would eventually marry), I didn't return to knitting until I had babies.  We lived in Southern California so there wasn't a big need for sweaters.  Funny how I stopped again after we moved to the Pacific Northwest.

Now I cannot imagine why I didn't pick up knitting more often.  And I cannot imagine being without two or three projects going at a time.  And, when I realized this morning that I had twisted my newest project and would need to un-knit it, I thought of my grandmother, of the things I don't know about her, of the questions I never thought to ask.  I am sure she had her share of knitting fails.

Today I am celebrating that woman with the stern face who shared her milky, sugar sweetened tea and her love for knitting with me so long ago.

6 comments:

Angie said...

Here's to all the women who have helped us on our journey! Thank you for sharing your story!

Sew Create It - Jane said...

So much of what we do is linked to the past..some things we know and others we don't. I recently learnt from my uncle on my father's side that I have ancestors that were seamstresses. On my mother's we had knitters and others that love to sew...and I wonder why I'm never far from a needle. It's a good feeling to have that connection.

Ruth Ayres said...

Juliann,
It was a treat to read your words tonight. I'm glad you caught them and sent them out as a celebration. It reminded me our connections are a worthy story to write.
Happy knitting,
Ruth

Lori said...

You are so lucky to have these memories of your grandmother and precious that it was she you learned this wonderful craft from. So cool!

karen said...

neither of my grandmothers knit but my mom did. However, I ended up teaching myself because I was impatient and stubborn. Also I really started knitting like crazy after I was married :) Loved this story!

Cathy said...

What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother, and a special and interesting woman! Hugs~