Monday, 19 December 2011

Another one under the belt

For the longest time I have wanted to learn how to knit. I even did a knitting lesson a year or so ago, it was nice, I knitted and I purled for a couple of hours and dropped a ton of stitches and then came home and felt disabled without a teacher, and work and lack of transport (I still cannot drive) made attending more knitting classes prohibitive, and I never knitted again.

My mother can knit, occasionally she knits half of something, she gets bored fast. When Amber was growing in my belly she started knitting her a pants and cardigan outfit, some 18 months later she finally completed the newborn sized outfit and so it did not fit toddler sized Amber, instead, newborn Hazel wore it for about 3 days, before her legs grew a billion inches (how do babie's do that?) and it didn't fit her either.
So all my life, I have had this marvellous untapped knitting resource in my own mother, but there are plenty of reasons I did not tap it.

For a start, my mother is just not a great teacher. When I was pregnant with Bluebelle and living in rural France I decided I needed to learn to drive. I came back to the UK to do an intensive course, supplemented by lessons from the parents (this was somewhat embarassing given that I was 30 year old woman and not a teen) in the evenings. My dad was great, kinda freaked out but calm all the same, my mother made it about 500 yards down the road with me driving, before yanking at the steering wheel and pulling on the handbreak, all the while screaming that I clearly had a death wish, I actually got out of the car and made her drive me home.

My mother has one way of doing things, her way. There is no other way, and much like she yanked the steering wheel as my learner driver self pootled down the lane at 10mph, anything I have asked her to help me with has resulted in the same "You suck, let me take over" approach and hence, I stopped asking for help. I have spent years wishing I knew how to use a sewing machine, knit, make clothes or curtains and tons of other stuff, but could not face my own mothers infuriating mode of teaching.

She does the same thing with my kids, and I often see them bawl with frustration as she manhandles their art materials and starts doing their homework for them, I smile and remember the pain in the ass that is her teaching methodology, it tickles me to see them feeling the same as I did, it validates the feelings I had as a child, as well as proving my mother is clearly bat shit crazy.
Honestly, I am painting my mother in a poor light, she is a brilliant, loving and generous woman, she just cannot bare to stand by and watch you do something wrong, she has to dive in and take control, hence, a patient teacher she is not.

Anyhoo, when Hazel expressed an interest in knitting, I thought about sending her over to Nan's, felt bad about the potential fury this would likely cause, then sent her anyway.
Hazel came home a ball of rage, but she could knit. Then she discovered a knitting club at school, and started knitting like a girl posessed. There were some crazy Nan teaching moments, like the time she unravelled about 12 inches of Hazel's knitting, despite her hysterical screams, to fix a hole right at the beginning (that was actually kinda bad but not unheard of behaviour, I told you, bat shit crazy!), but Hazel perservered.

And so it came to be, that this thirty something mama of 4, who desperately wanted to knit, learned not from her own mama, but from her daughter, and oh, how wonderful that is! Get your kids to suffer on your behalf, thats some fine parenting on my part, I am sure you will agree.
There are now balls of yarn all over the house and the constant clickety click of needles making, MAKING. Christmas making, no less. Well, scarves, I am not following patterns yet, but boy I am I excited by the possibilities (socks!!!).


There will be many a scarf filling many a christmas stocking this year. Oh Yes.
Also, did you know, that the village I lived in over in France, was the village of the SHEEP, every kind of sheep on my doorstep, with women hand spinning wool and knitting beautiful things, and oh, to be back there.... so many things I took for granted. I am learning not to do that.

Certainly, I am not taking Hazel for granted, as knitting teachers go, she totally rocks. And my mother... I am learning that a patient student is a pretty good pacifier for an impatient teacher, I might even ask her how to crochet, after a stiff drink, maybe.


  1. Welcome to the world of knitting! I can't wait to see what you'll do after you've mastered the basics.

    If you haven't discovered them yet, circular needles are your friend ... for everything.

    Here's a demo that I found very useful :)

  2. Oooh I love your stories...I used to love reading about your life in France. Imagine you living in the village of the SHEEP, that would be wonderful!!! I love those sheep with the black faces, beautiful creatures.
    My Great Grandmother taught me how to knit when I was in grade 1 (as my mother couldnt knit or sew). It was only when I had my boys that I took it up in earnest. Knitting them each a jumper a year. I've taught myself to crochet (via internet and a friends help in following a pattern) and a friends mum taught me to sew. I can now do all of these, but master of none. I do enjoy all kinds of stitching though.

    Enjoy your new found skill and well done Hazel on learning and teaching mum.

    Jacky xox

  3. I laugh out loud again as I read your post, totally relate to all of it! The joys of being a daughter & a mother to daughters!

  4. Congratulations to you and to your daughter! I loved your story, it made me laugh! Enjoy your knitting!

  5. A knowing smile came over my face reading this - did we have the same mother?? Anyway, I can't knit either - I somehow get a strand of wool between each needle which just gets longer and longer as I 'progress'. There will be no handknitted goodies in Christmas stockings in this house! Happy Christmas.

  6. Hi - just found you from your lovely comment on my Bustle & Sew blog - and loved your knitting story!! Have a great Christmas - I have a vision of all your loved ones snuggly wrapped in their scarves.

    Helen xx

  7. what a fabulous story....learning from family isn't all it's cracked up to be...let me tell ya. here's to drunken crochet in the new year.

  8. oh, ha! i don't do many of the same things as my mom, because of a similar situation. her mother taught me to crochet & embroider. there were a few sewing lessons from mom, but mostly the knitting, stitching, etc. i do are self-taught. i've taught my boys to knit, wonder how i did?

  9. :) I also just found you from a comment on Resurrection Fern:) This makes me smile..I, too..CANNOT knit! I wish your daughter could travel!!!:) I need a patient teacher! Happy knitting to you!

  10. Sound like the way I teach my kids and I'm a teacher. Somehow I'm calm and patient with everyone else and OCD with my own. Thank heavens your daughter could cope and learnt to knit now you'll have real fun clicking away. Good luck with it.


  11. this post made me laugh out loud!!! Lets see some of this knitting on here!!