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August 22, 2012

In a world where there are countless blogs about fiber arts crafts, I am always fascinated by the stories of how people came to knitting and spinning, (as well as the other fiber crafts, but since those are the two I do, they tend to strike my fancy more.) One theme that pops up quite often is the connection to family members who knit (craft) and stories of their childhood being taught how to practice their craft. I love the stories of grandmothers helping wee ones how to hold the needles and work the yarn. Stories of mothers, aunts, and sometimes even older siblings coloring their perception of not only the craft, but their ability to master it.

I love these stories, and at the same time I am envious. I learned to knit not from a family member, but through a community group and then later thanks to the internet. I do not have fond memories of my wee hands passing yarn from one needle to another. I have no stories of my grand mother, or my mother teaching me how to mind the stitches. I don’t have this family tie to the craft. I always wanted to learn, but in my family there was no one to teach me, no one to guide my hands or encourage my efforts. I have no lineage when it comes to knitting.

In more recent years, I have heard (and am guilty of) the often populated idea that knitting is now in vogue. The idea that it’s not for little old ladies in their rocking chairs. It’s not just for grandma’s anymore. I have been made to feel inferior to the non-knitter, asked if I was expecting and generally looked down upon because I am younger and I knit. I don’t have the history that other knitters have, I don’t have the connection to the past. I have read about people who deny this lineage, while I understand the desire to claim it as our own, I can’t help but feel the rising tide of shame when I realize that we are denying the lineage. If it weren’t for our grandmothers, our mothers, our aunts we wouldn’t have the craft to start with. As I have gotten older, and have taught a few others to knit, I am starting to realize being a knitter undeniably provides me with a connection to the past.

Being a knitter provides you with a lineage, whether you had someone within your family who taught you, or if you learned from a book. When we pick up our pointy sticks, we are making a connection to countless others who have done and will do. There is something satisfying about turning a heel, which can be made all the more sweet when you consider the untold number of knitters who must have felt just as clever, the discoveries we make as we pass a stitch through a loop and onto the other needle, provide us with the same sense of pride that knitters of a bygone era must have known.When I teach a person the knit stitch, I am suddenly able to transform their connection (whether either of us realizes it or not,) by showing them the purl stitch I am providing a new link, a new branch.

Though knitting falls into and out of popular favor it provides an undeniable link to the past and marks a path toward the future. Being a knitter means to me, that even though I had no grandmother to teach me, no mother to guide my hands, I am still linked to the wider lineage and can take up my pointy sticks in solidarity with the untold number of other knitters and in that way I am a part of a larger lineage, a knitting lineage.

From → Knitting

One Comment
  1. Well said. That’s why I collect antique spinning wheels – that connection to the countless spinners before me who spun on that wheel and the joy of making an old thing work again. I had a grandmother who knit but a mother who did not, so when I learned as an adult, it was from my mother-in-law and YouTube. Still valid ways to learn it, but like you, I’m not really carrying on a family tradition. Still, that makes me (and you) no less a knitter than anyone else.

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