Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Yarn of a lesson

My mother knits. Nothing short of a magician she is with a pair of knitting needles. I have often suspected that she thinks through her needles or else her needles have a mind of their own. I swear I think they see, they scan and appropriate patterns. Tight, neat, even and clean, the knitted woollens come off those pointies in fantastic shapes and sizes; the kind that will throw people off. They look machine made but are too graceful and stylized and personal to have come from bolts, nuts and levers. Yet, the appearance is so symmetrical and perfectly aligned they can't be credited to a pair of mere human hands.

My earliest memories are of the two iconic magazines: the ‘Woman and Home’ and ‘Women’s Weekly’. While Mom subscribed to them for the knitted patterns, I treasured them for their serialised stories, a precursor to my Mills and Boon days. There was a ritual to their arrival, a simple one, comprising three straight steps. One, choose the pattern from those featured; two, trip to the market for the exact same wool and step three, voila! You could not tell the difference. Shade for shade, flower for flower, French knot for French knot, tassel for tassel, stitch for stitch. 

Every finished product was like a lesson. A chapter on discipline, perseverance, perfection.

Those hands should have been insured! Tea cosies, pullovers, cardigans, booties, caps, mufflers, mittens, jackets, shawls, dolls, soft toys, Santas, Gnomes, Witches, cushions, slippers, stockings…you name it and it had been knitted and fashioned. Boxfuls of woollen craft work, hours and hours of painstaking work, a loop at a time, one knit following another, a purl chasing the other. Each of my siblings, our spouses and children, even the odd relative-in-law thus came to own a piece of my Mom’s life. She could have been sleeping or reading or watching TV during the time she spent, hunched over the ambitious designs she picked for replication. There grew, over the years, rich and complete wardrobes of knitwear in our homes.

This is one hobby that has been therapeutic at several levels. It gave Mom a creative outlet and spread a feel good factor all over the family as the owner to be of the creation in progress, puffed up with the knowledge that they will be the recipient of the ongoing  project. There is not a member of my family that has not been stopped by complete strangers at times; people who couldn't help but exclaim at the woollen pieces we happened to be sporting. A lady once offered to go into export business with me, involving Mom’s magnum opus.

Unfortunately, I don’t knit. I weave words. And I am en-lacing them here in an effort to convey what my mother's labour of love has done for the family. Just for starters, it was one of her pieces that kept Asawari warm during her Serb winter last year. And I know it gave her more than just mere warmth!

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