Friday, April 8, 2011

The Knitting Lesson

Do you remember the first time you learned to knit?  Do you remember your first teacher?  Can you recall the frustration?  Remember the pride of completing your first project? 

I remember my first knitting lesson.  My mother was our Blue Bird leader and she decided to teach her little group how to knit slippers.  I'm not sure how she did it.   But by the end of the lesson, we could cast on, knit and purl - what an accomplishment.

The first knitting lesson my grandchildren was in August of 2005.  If you remember, Katrina was hitting New Orleans full force and my family had come to stay with us in Tennessee.  Well, needless to say, they were a very confused and stressed so grandma pulled out the "kid" size plastic needles, the inexpensive "Red Heart" yarn and started teaching the knitting stitch.  We had the typical pitfalls of new knitters:  more stitches that we started with; big holes where stitches were dropped and the occasional knitting needle falling out.   By the time they returned to New Orleans a few days later, they were not exactly knitting but were definitely having fun.

This past week, I returned to New Orleans for a visit.  It has been nearly 6 years since I have seen my grand kids.  The first thing they wanted to do was knit.  Of course the previous lessons had been forgotten.  But grandma had yarn, knitting needles and 3 days for wooly fun.

Katie was the first to start.  Katie is 14 and very tall and slender.  Her hands are very delicate and can always be seen sitting quietly in her lap.  She is soft spoken and kind.  Since I have been trying to learn Portuguese style knitting, I cast on a few stitches and got her started on the purl stitch.  Within a matter of minutes she was breezing along. After a few minutes, she had developed her own "variation" of Portuguese knitting was was engrossed in her project.  By the time I left, she could cast on, knit, purl, cast off and sew a seam.   You could see the pride in her face. 

Lindsay is the baby.  She is short, petite and has very tiny hands.  So we got her started the same way as her sister; but, because her hands are so small she struggled.  Then I had an "ah ha" moment.  So we stuck the left needle between her knees and started worked with the right needle.  Similar to the process used when knitting with a knitting sheath or pouch.  She looked up and said "look grandma, I can do it to".  So off she went to find her "comfy" space on the sofa dragging her ball of yarn on the floor.  Lindsay was able to cast on, knit and purl and with the help of her big sister could cast off and sew a seam. 

Finally there was Kody.  Kody has a tendency to give up when things get hard and for him knitting was hard.  Too many motions, too many steps, too much distraction.   He expects perfection the first time - so much like his dad.   So we went back to the "throwing" style of knitting.  He immediately said, :grandma this is how I learned it in Tennessee, I remember this".  He was still knitting in the typical Kody way.  Knit for 2 minutes-go outside and throw the basketball.  Play with the dog.  Play his Game Boy.  Pick up the knitting.  It appears that his specialty is multi-tasking. 

So there we sat, grandma, three kids in our own  private knitting circle.  For 3 glorious days, we laughed, knitted, cooked, joked around and had a great time.  When I left to go home, I was the proud owner of 3 wrist warmers.

For me, the chance to pass along knitting to them was a privilege and an honor.  The time spent was one of pure joy.  I hope that someday they will fondly recall the time when they learned to knit as I do.  Maybe they will even take it up again when they are older and tell their friends of how they learned to knit.