Your Knitting or Crochet Hero
Blog about someone in the fiber crafts who truly inspires you.
I am one of a breed of knitter who seems to be unique to the internet age. Or at least that's the impression I get when I meet people. I taught myself how to knit with pattern kits and dusty library books. I can't remember the name of the book I actually used, but it taught me how to bind off -- after a year of attempts can you imagine how magical that was? There are many people who were lucky enough to be taught by a family member. A grandmother, an aunt, a cousin, their mother. I had no such concept of a knitting heritage. Until my mother gave me this.
Taken in California in the late sixties/early seventies, this is a snapshot of my grandmother. Knitting. Evidently when my mom was a kid my grandmother was always knitting, in the same way that I am now knitting in every spare moment. I have vague memories of my grandmother before she was diagnosed with a debilitating disease that slowly took her memories of who we were. Put into context, these are memories from when my sister was learning to walk -- she's now turning 21 on Friday (do not get me started, I can't handle it). But after she died I started to learn more and more about the crafting legacy that I unknowingly inherited.
For example, my grandmother was a very thrifty lady. After she had made the year's woolies, she would take her leftovers to make mittens. My mom talks about them every year and she was thrilled when I made my Sparkly Skid (above) and told her it was knit from shawl leftovers. Evidently I am fitting into a pattern I did not realize existed. Like a fairytale character who cannot figure out why she is so different until she finds out that she is a princess and had been living with the kind woodcutter's wife all this time to keep her safe.
I do not have any of my grandmother's knitting, but I do have a scarf knitted by my mom. Turns out that she was the only one of the four daughters to refuse to knit. But a few years ago she asked me to teach her. And she's not the only one returning to her knitting roots. All three of her sisters have once again picked up needles and hooks. My aunt, who made the bag below, described it as a way to connect with their mother who is now gone. She might have left us several years ago, but they find tactile ways to remember her -- and the sense memories are strong.
They might not have returned to knitting until later in life, but the women of my family -- even those who do not knit -- are a crafty lot. My one aunt was an artistic quilter, the other two create beaded jewelry that sells in craft shows in the North East. Even my sister and several cousins have caught the bug.
Even though I barely knew her, I do think my grandmother inspired this legacy of creation. I keep this photo in the center of my inspiration board so that I'll always connect back to my roots. Because even in this internet age of self-taught knitters there is still heritage -- you just have to look.
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