Monday, August 10, 2009

The Knitting Lesson

It is Thanksgiving, the turkey roasted and half-consumed, the dishes done, the ball games over, the dinner guests gone. I am 9 years old and it's just Grandma and me on a green couch with our backs to a low autumn sun streaming in through crocheted lace. The house is quiet but for the hum of the refrigerator and the ticking of a clock that has a real, glowing fireplace on it. The air is pie-scented--pumpkin, mince, and apple--with an undertone of coal burning in the heating stove. Braided rugs adorn the floor and family photos vie for space on the wall amid framed crochet pieces and paintings of horses and The Good Shepherd.

She sits close beside me in polyester slacks and a colorful blouse, her figure trim and solid even after raising 7 children, one leg neatly crossed over the other. Her hands are slender, nimble, and soft, in spite of working indoors and out all the days of her life. Her eyes are deep-set and wise, sparkling with good humor. Her long hair is braided and coiled, secured with tortoise shell combs.

The yarn is off-white, the needles are Boye, size 8, aluminum. She demonstrates a few stitches, then returns the swatch to me. "Loosen up a little", she says, as my stitches again grow too tight. End the row and begin another--yarn in the left hand, just like Grandma.

In the next room a queen-sized quilt is stretched on a wooden frame, awaiting her needle. Eight stitches to the inch, and all the same length. Roses and horses, until her neck and shoulders ache, but each child and grandchild must have a quilt. Neighbors pay only a fraction of their worth for handmade quilts, ordered for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries. There are whole boxes of yarn and a large glass jar filled with knitting needles. One wall is decorated with a family tree.... Grandma's photo on the trunk, and mine dangling from a branch nearby.

It is time to feed the cows; and Grandma puts on her gloves, coat, hat, and scarf, and leaves me alone to practice.....

Now, 35 years later, I am just home from the annual Family Reunion. Grandma will turn 96 this year. She is still tatting and crocheting and has sent a small handmade gift home with each and every member of her family. I have lost count of all the great, and great-great grandchildren, but none leave empty-handed. She remembers when she was 9 years old, but sometimes doesn't remember me. That's all right, Grandma, I'll remember for both of us.

Doily named for Grandma

1 comment:

  1. This post almost leaves me speechless...

    So eloquently & so simply stated. The love. The rich heritage of her stitches. The passing on of the strength & beauty of such a magnificent lady.

    Thank you for sharing.