Monday, September 04, 2006

My Memorial Day

I always get confused about which Monday holiday falls in May, and which one falls in September, but I do know that today is Labor Day. It's just that it is a "Memorial Day" for me.

I was taught to knit by my Nana at a very young age (6 or 7) along with the other needlearts: crewel embroidery and crochet. I remember watching her and my mother knit and wanting desperately to do it too. I was given the little tube knitting tool and, after making a 12 inch tube, complained that it was too babyish. Eventually Nana gave in and decided to teach me. For some reason, she treated knitting more seriously than other stitching, so I felt that it was more grown up, perhaps because it required two needles instead of one. She gave me a "Learn to Knit Book", some colored metal needles and scrap yarn that was probably acrylic.

I would love to say that I remember it very clearly and fondly, except that I tried hard to forget it! What a disaster! You have to understand something about my Nana: she was a perfectionist who wanted only to instill perfection in me. If I made a bad stitch (knit or otherwise) it was torn out and I was made to do it over "properly". This would go on and on. For some reason I was able to crochet and embroider to her standards, but knitting was just beyond me. I would start out OK, but my tension would tighten so much that I could barely jam the needle into the stitch. I think we were both relieved when I finally gave up. In later years, I would try again and again. My mother funded each pathetic but well-meaning attempt, but she would only buy the cheapest acrylic yarn available, in case I didn't finish it, which I never did.

On Labor Day weekend 5 years ago, my mother and I were shopping in Boothbay Harbor and visited a favorite needlework shop that had recently started carrying yarns. They were having a trunk show of Colinette yarns and a "fiber snob" was born! I fell in love with all the colors and textures and finally became aware that acrylic wasn't the only game in town! I decided to try again, but this time I bought myself a big expensive skein of "Isis" and my own bamboo needles to make a simple, garter stitch scarf. I finished within 2 days. The rest, as they say 'is history'. I still have the scarf, but unfortunately, my Nana died 10 years ago (also on Labor Day Weekend) and never did see me knit properly, but I think she would have been proud.

So, in memory of Nana, here's my first knit and last knit. Isis scarf above, finished September, 2001 and Baby Cable Rib Socks, finished September 2006:

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