Cabled Mittens as an Inspired Gift
I have been a hand-knitter since age 9. My first memory of knitting: I had an inspiration to hand-make gifts for family for Christmas. Where the inspiration originated is a mystery to me. But I was moved to begin my first knitting project for my Grandmother: a pair of cabled mittens. A trip to a local yarn shop connected me with the owner who was instrumental in beginning journey with knitting. I remember purchasing the yarn, the cable needle, a knitting pattern book, and a set of double-pointed needles. The fun and challenge of knitting cabled mittens for my Grandmother now lay before me!
No One Said I Couldn’t
The first stitches were knit and purled with the shop owner sitting beside me. My ritual was to go home, once started with the shop owner’s help, until I ran into questions or problems. I would then return to the shop owner for help whereupon she would patiently assist me. Not once did anyone say that knitting a pair of cabled mittens as a brand new knitter was counterproductive. I received encouragement for aiming high.
Miles of Support
I was unaware at age 9 that I had tremendous support in accomplishing my first knitting project. At age 9 I could not drive. It was my father that would drive me to the yarn shop. I would have to wait until he was available to take me. However, he was always willing.
The yarn shop was about 25 minutes away from home. It was quite a means of support to have my father give of his time and gas expense to drive me this distance. Miles of support refers to the miles traveled to further my cause of knitting the cabled mittens.
Gifts Given Can Also be Gifts Received
At age 9, I was unaware of the gifts I would be receiving from this experience into the future. At that youthful moment, the joy of giving was my focus despite imperfections in my knitting. The hours of learning and toiling were spent simply with the intention of giving.
My future was profoundly altered by giving away those handmade, cabled mittens. I had dry spells in my knitting after age 9. But boyfriends were recipients of my knitting, my Dad was a recipient of multiple sweater vests that he was proud to wear to work, and friend of mine received gifts of mittens, scarves or hats. Finally, when I had a family of my own, I knit sweaters and other winter wearable items for my husband and three daughters. Once they had all of the knitted items they needed, I began a business (Annie’s Woolens) to continue to knit for others. For me, it’s a lesson in paying attention to what you love to do as part of a career or hobby option. Knitting gave me joy – the rhythm, the feel of the wool fibers, the colors, the knitting needles, the finished projects – all of it gave me joy.
One never knows when a seed will be planted or a spark ignited. I was unaware at age 9 that something magical was happening within me that would take me on a journey as a business owner for 30 years. But the fact that I continued to choose to knit for others throughout my youth and into young adulthood could have been a sign had I been paying attention. The lesson I take from my story is to follow joy. The activities, tasks, projects that offer joy repeatedly may be a means of rewarding oneself with a meaningful career or hobby. The path is ours to take.
My grandma Laura, was such an inspiration to me! She’s been gone for 13 years, but she shows up in my life nearly every day in some small way. She taught me to knit when I was about nine years old, Grandma sitting in her rocking chair and me perched on the ottoman facing her. I am absolutely sure that teaching me to knit was one of the most challenging things she’d ever done! I am a lefty and had trouble following her direction. The breakthrough came, though, when we faced each other and I could mimic what she was doing, but backwards. The ottoman came in handy for those knitting lessons. Grandma was super generous by gifting her projects to her kids and grandkids, and I have been so blessed to follow in her footsteps by making hats, socks, scarves, mittens, and other items for my family and friends. Not the most accomplished knitter, I have let my needles rest for years at a time, but feel very fortunate to be putting them to good use at the same age as my grandmother was when she taught me to cast on, knit, and purl with her.
Thanks, Anne, for sharing your story and evoking fond memories in me!
I boarded at a convent school when I was 12. A nun there taught me how to knit (and sew). I spent summers at home. I persuaded my father to purchase about $40 worth of yarn in order to knit him a sweater. It was a lot of money in those days, and my knitting teacher was not available to help me with this purchase. I worked very hard on the sweater, but I did not know enough to check my gauge (or understand the materials needed). I remember casting on nearly 400 stitches, using worsted weight and size 2 needles. (You can see where this is going). By the time I had finished the back side and my father held it up, we both knew it would never fit him (or anybody). I unraveled it and made many many pairs of mittens and even golf club covers. I don’t know if I ever used all that yarn up, but I still have those #2 needles.