Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I don't remember how old I was when I was taught to knit the first time. What I do remember is that I thought I couldn't. I know my legs were so short my feet dangled as I sat in my grandmother's kitchen in her yellow-painted machine-wicker chair. And I remember hearing that I was "purling," which meant I had to rip out whatever I had done and cast on again (and again, and again...). Whatever purling was, it wasn't knitting. I couldn't knit.

Over the years, it began to seem the condition was permanent. My god-mother tried to teach me. My grandmother tried again. As I grew older, I tried to teach myself with the help of famous knitters who published books with such kind titles:
Knitting Without Tears, Knitting in Plain English, How to Knit. Perhaps the synapse that needed to fire, the one necessary to forge the knitting path in my brain, was defective. After all, my sister could knit. Friends in high school and later in college, at work, with children, could knit. Even my mother could knit (although she stopped in 1948, half-way through the second mitten and never picked it up again).

This year I tried again.
Patternworks had a Dale of Norway "Learn to Knit" kit. Well, they had two and I got them both. Everybody needs backup. Months after the kits had arrived, with a fatalistic mind-set and a shrug of my shoulders, I pulled out the needles, yarn and how-to booklet and prepared to cast on.

The one thing I had learned in my grandmother's kitchen was how to cast on. Repetition will do that. The instructions in this kit, however, bore no resemblance to what I thought I knew. You didn't use your fingers. You needed to use both needles. I remember thinking, "What is this? This isn't casting on. This is strange. I bet this is what you'd
have to do if you could knit. Wait. What did I just say?"

Most people understand (probably as 5 year olds) what I didn't. Purling is knitting. Most people would have figured out that Dale of Norway was teaching the knitted cast-on. And yes, the little booklet confirmed, if I could do the knitted cast-on, I could knit.

Gloryoski Zero.

1 comment:

diane h said...

A beautiful example of what can be done with enough preparation - is the beige thing made from linen? That's quite a pink yarn flower thing.