Let the knitting begin
Here in Italy, our main source of news is the BBC. While I don’t watch it every day, this past summer it has been hard to ignore the growing and serious crisis happening in many European countries with the influx of immigrants. My grand parents (like many of yours) were immigrants. My Grandfather left home, by himself, at the age of 12. Every time I see a young child slogging along on a forced march or being plucked out of the sea, tears form in my eyes. I felt like I had to do something.
Back in July, even though it was hot I knew that cold weather would be coming soon. Those little children would need hats. So I turned to the internet and looked for easy crochet lessons. As a child I had crocheted. I remember enjoying it and finishing some items. I bought a crochet hook and some yarn. I watched videos. I looked at step by step instructions. And I couldn’t figure it out. I reached out to my favorite crochet folks, daughter Maria and friend Melissa. They tried to help but could have replied back to me in Greek and I would have understood it as well.
Back to the store for knitting needles. While crochet might be faster, knitting is easier. So I taught myself how to knit again. As a child I had tried knitting but was a little too tense/tight to be successful at it. I don’t remember ever finishing any knitted project. I do remember that my stiches were very tight on the needle and were hard to work with and that I could not stand that my mother could knit very well and took so much enjoyment from it and I didn’t.
I did try to honor my mother when I bought yarn. The directions that I was trying to follow were written by an American. I had no idea how much yarn to buy because weights of yarn and amounts in the skein differ from Europe to America. But I did know from my mother that it was very important to buy from all the same dye lot if you want the color to be the same throughout. So I bought 6 skeins. Surely enough for a hat or two. And I bought in a color that I didn’t like. Just in case I created a masterpiece and was tempted to keep it, it would be easier to give away if I didn’t really like the color. It was also about the color of a top that my mother had started knitting for herself (when I was in high school) but ran out of yarn before she completed it. Until she died she carried in her wallet a little piece of that yarn trying to match it so she ‘could finish her top.’
Well the knitting began. I had plastic needles that were awful. I kept dropping stiches. A dropped stich creates a hole in the finished product. I changed to bamboo needles. Very nice to hold and while I still drop a stich or two, it is not as many as it was. And when I drop a stich I still don’t know what to do to fix it. (I’m sure there is some internet tutorial about that)
I find, that like my mother, who took up knitting to pass the time while waiting for me to finish dance class or this lesson or that lesson, I too can pass time while waiting with Ben for this doctor’s appointment or that doctor’s appointment. And my goodness, I also find it relaxing!!!!! And I’m enjoying it.
Oh nooo, am I becoming my mother????? My first hat.
Here is my production so far. The first attempts in the lower right corner to the latest in the upper left. You can tell how quickly I became bored with the color and had to buy something different and then had to learn how to switch from one yarn to another.
Think of these first ones as having a ‘Jamaican bobsledder/Rastarifarian’ vibe. They are roomy to accommodate waayyyyy more hair than I have.
Finally, I realized that the internet probably had a pattern that I could follow so that maybe they would look more hat shape.
The last three, (pictured on the top row, 3 pictures above) look like hats and are close to being child size. And notice my bold use of color. But I still have 2 more skeins of the aqua/green to use up.
This week, hopefully I will meet up with someone who is working with a church group that is working with a group of immigrants and give away the hats and the bags of clothes that Ben and I have cleaned out of our closets. My hats may not be perfect but they were made with love, care and concern for these folks who have had to leave their homes and start over. It isn’t much, but it’s the best I can do right now.
And from a book that I read early in the summer which I am sure led me to knitting…..
From A Life in Stiches: Knitting My Way Through Love, Loss and Laughter by Rachael Herron
At least in knitting and writing-these essential parts of who I am- I can always go back and fix things. I know how. It makes me bold. And it’s a comfort to know that when I knit badly or when I write poorly, I haven’t really lost anything but time- and even that time has changed into something; knowledge. Every time I fail, it hurts like hell. But I know more than I did before I tried.
And knitters are a hardy lot, aren’t we? We keep clicking along, one stich following another, mistakes noticed and often fixed. We keep going, just as writers keep putting words on a page, whether we’re filling journals or writing novels. As Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, has said, small actions repeated over and over, lead to astonishingly large results-stiches become sweaters, words become books. Many knitters added together become a community, and I do believe it is the best group of people in the world.