This is a story for all mothers, and possibly the amusement of all daughters, about why mothers should not open their mouths and say discouraging things to budding knitting enthusiasts. It’s a somewhat long story:
It all began when my daughter was about 11 and she asked me to knit her a scarf. I hadn’t done any knitting for years up to that point, but she knew I could knit even though she’d never seen me do it, and decided she wanted me to knit her one.
I was living in Hong Kong then, and, would you believe it, there was a yarn store in the local shopping mall that I passed every weekend, and never went in. However, I now thought: why knit her a scarf when I could teach her to knit!
So I went into the store and was amazed at how much the world had changed since I last knitted. The very helpful assistant helped me pick out some pretty chunky yarn in shades of purple, and I chose a style from the sample scarves that they had on display. She wrote the pattern down for me on a scrap of paper – it was a very simple pattern – cast on 28 stitches, k2, p2 rib, with contrast colour at each end of the scarf. Four balls in all. I also got my very first (or I should I say, “her”) pair of circular needles, which were new to me. I think they only use circulars in Hong Kong due to the fact that space is at such a premium you’d poke someone’s eye out if you used straight needles. I’d seen ladies on the MTR (underground train system) knitting using circulars and had wondered what they were!
Anyway, I digress. The scarf kit was duly presented at Christmas, and she knitted it up in a record two days. I was very proud. Here it is. Isn’t it great?
After that, I got enthusiastic and bought yarn and needles and knitted up a scarf too. But that was about it as Eric was still a baby at that point and I was also working full-time. Sylvia’s enthusiasm for knitting continued and she discovered more yarn stores and went about knitting scarves as presents for all her friends. She even took her knitting to parties – I didn’t even know about the new knitting revolution and here it was, happening right in front of me!
Then we moved back to New Zealand, and the knitting bug really bit me hard after my sister, infected by Sylvia’s interest in knitting, wanted me to teach her again and we made that fateful visit to the yarn store. About a year ago, I discovered some very silky, very soft Sublime cashmere merino silk in Knitworld Studio. Ooooh… this would be very nice for Sylvia, I thought. She is so sensitive to scratch that I hadn’t been overly successful in knitting her anything she’d wear up to that point. So I got a few balls. It was horribly expensive, but I thought, what the hell – if she will wear it, it will be worth it.
When I got home, Sylvia pounced on the balls in delight and declared she’d knit something in it. Ok, I said, surprised. In typical teenage fashion, Sylvia decided she’d knit her own thing in it, and after seeing a picture of a shrug in one of my books, went about knitting one for herself which she designed. It would have garter-stitch sleeves and a stocking stitch back. So I thought, until she began to do a purl/knit box detail about 10cm (2in) into knitting the back.
I was busy knitting my own project at the time and had my nose buried in it when she began to tell me about the design she was incorporating. Unfortunately, I’m still learning to embrace change willingly. And having set the picture in my head as to what she was going to do, had some difficulty in adjusting my mental focus. I should have looked up from my knitting and asked her to show it to me.
She said, “The stocking stitch is going to curl at the edges and my shrug might not look so good, so how might I fix that?” “Use garter at the edges” I said. But she decided she was going to do little purl boxes within the body, which she started to tell me about. “Oh well, do it, but I’m not sure it’s going to help with the curling” I replied after a bit of banter.
Unfortunately, by that point, she’d got throughly discouraged. And having painstakingly knitted up to here:
she said, “well, you knit it then”.
Of course, I thought that she would relent and pick it up again after a period of sulking. But she hasn’t touched her needles since that day, and now I’m very sorry I said anything at all except “that sounds lovely sweetie!”
Her knitting was coming along so great – look at how even the stitches are:
Well, the other night she was accusing me of not giving her credit for me getting back into knitting, and brought up the subject of That Shrug which I still hadn’t finished for her…
So here it is. The credit and the story. And I suppose, I should go about knitting up that damn shrug and maybe she’ll pick her needles up again. Which would be a very happy day for me.