Textile Teachers – Knitting
When I was seven, my mom arranged for me to have knitting lessons with an older lady, Mary, who lived up the street. Every Saturday I went at two o’clock for an hour’s lesson. My mom is left-handed and I’m right-handed, so she didn’t think she could teach me herself. Since I was not the organized sports type, she thought I should develop some interests. Also, Mary loved kids but didn’t have any, so Mom probably thought she was doing the neighborly thing by lending me out for a while.
My first lesson was casting on, and then the garter stitch. I remember clearly sitting in a comfortable arm chair with good lighting while Mary sat across the room and worked on her own knitting. I can still see the grass green yarn I used, but I have no idea if I picked the color or Mary did. I kept my knitting in a work bag made out of an oatmeal box, covered neatly with brown fabric, and decorated with yellow and orange flowers created with Art-tex – an early fabric paint. Mary had made the work bag for me. We just sat companionably together and worked. I don’t remember talking much, just enjoying the peace.
Over the weeks, I knit a large square, learned to cast off, and then repeated the whole process. I was so surprised when I came to my next lesson, to find that Mary had joined the two squares with a border of crocheted scallops, and stuffed it with a pillow form. I didn’t know I was making anything in particular. I was amazed to find out I could make something real!
My next lesson was the purl stitch. I was still working with that grass green yarn, and again, I just knit a square, smaller this time. Mary turned that square into a straight sheath dress for my Barbie doll. As a finishing touch, she sewed a little rhinestone triangle to the shoulder of the dress so Barbie would be wearing a fashionable brooch. Then, she gave me a 4-piece outfit for my Barbie – she could have been working on it while I was sitting there, I don’t know. I don’t remember ever asking her about her own projects.
I’m not sentimental about my own creations – I tend to get tired of looking at them while I’m working on them – and I really didn’t like that green color even then, so I don’t have my first two knit creations any more. But I do have the outfit that Mary knit.
I never became much of a knitter – too many dropped stitches. But early on, I learned that comfort and companionship can be found in hand crafts, even across the generations or across cultures, and I am so thankful for that!
What a great outfit for Barbie!!
Thanks! The good thing about Barbie outfits is that they take up so little room, they are easy to keep for years.
Brings back memories. My mom taught me how to knit. She was left-handed and I was right-handed and so I knit a little goofy! My grandma used to crochet Barbie clothes for me….from that thin thread. Now, I realize what a hassle that probably was! Thanks for bringing that memory back today!
I have trouble teaching people to crochet because I learned from ym Grandmother, a lefty, and I’m a righty. My sister learned the correct way even though she’s also right-handed, but I basically do it backwards. Any time I try to teach someone, or crochet with someone who knows how, they end up looking at my hands with strange looks on their faces instead!
I didn’t always appreciate the homemade clothes as well as the “real” ones from the store – but now I treasure them.
I didn’t, either. But I sure do now!