Monday, October 15, 2012

Knit One, Purl Two

When I was six years old, my dad was in graduate school at Ball State University.  We lived in one of the small university apartments right near campus.  The single-story apartments were arranged in rows of four and were filled with married students and their families as well as Ball State faculty and staff, so we had lots of neighbors right nearby.  Our two-bedroom apartment was small for our family of six, so we kids spent a lot of time outside.  One night after dinner as it was starting to get dark, my parents couldn't find me--I wasn't on the playground in the grassy center of the rows of apartments, I wasn't at one of my friends' apartments, I wasn't behind our little apartment playing dolls--I wasn't anywhere.  My parents were in full panic mode by the time I came walking calmly down the sidewalk toward home.  Although I don't remember, I imagine they were caught in that odd mixture of relief that I was safe and frustration that I'd worried them.  According to my mom, when they asked me where I'd been, I replied in a small, bewildered voice, "At my knitting lesson . . . "  One of the women who lived in the next row of apartments had apparently offered to teach me to knit, and I took her up on it.  I don't remember exactly how it came about or why my parents didn't know that I was taking "knitting lessons," but I still have my first-ever piece of knitting--a long, uneven variegated green rectangle.  Several years later, a Sunday school teacher in Pennsylvania picked up where my first knitting teacher had left off, and I've been knitting ever since.  At first all I made were scarves, but then early in our marriage, I made an afghan for our little apartment, then a complicated sweater vest for Steve that ended up being too small.  That disappointment discouraged me for a while, but when my kids came along, I started knitting again--they wore lots of homemade sweaters in their early years but then one by one outgrew the homemade sweater look.  Still, over the years, I've kept my hand in--a Christmas stocking here, a scarf there, tiny baby sweaters as gifts, a batch of comfort dolls, and most recently, a couple of pairs of boot toppers my daughter saw on Pinterest.  I don't know what drew me to knitting at such a young age, but I guess there are things each of us seeks out on our own, things we can't learn at home or from our parents--and maybe it's that blend of things handed down and things acquired along the way that makes each generation unique and interesting.

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