I don’t remember who taught me to knit – sacrilege I know. I have 3 very strong knitting influences in my life who stick out among many other knitting friends and to whom, if I was stuck when I was learning, I would turn, but I can’t pinpoint quite which of them originally taught me to wield the needles.
I suspect it was my mother. My mother is an extraordinarily creative woman, with a fantastic eye and exquisite taste, and if I have inherited even a third of her crafty capabilities I shall be a very happy bunny indeed. My mother turns out knitted gifts at an alarming rate, but doesn’t limit herself to these – there’s also the quilting, the embroidery, the sewing, the sugarcraft… she’s one of these infuriating people who is amazing at everything she turns her hand to. This is the woman who both decorated my wedding cake and made my wedding dress.
Then there’s my grandmother, from whom I inherited much of the DK and fingering weight wool in my stash (what will I do with all that!?). She has wardrobes stuffed with handknit chunky sweaters and short 70s knitted jackets. She is probably the woman who got me started technically. Her eyesight is no longer up to knitting herself, but many’s the (somewhat frustrating) conversation we’ve had where she’s tried to explain to me again just how you cast on… over the phone.
And there’s my mother-in-law. Keen knitter, but not so keen sewer-up. She has projects languishing in the bottom of the stash that have been there for years because she can’t quite brings herself to sew together their constituent parts. But her knitting skill is jaw-dropping. She can knit back at the speed of light. She plays down her ability but on our last visit, when pressed, reluctantly produced a jumper in progress for her first grandchild (our nephew) with some of the most incredible aran work I’ve seen. Of course, it’s in its many parts still. I suspect I may be pressed into sewing-up service over Christmas.
These three women stand out among all my knitting friends and books as being the most influential on my knitting beginnings. I’ve matured as a knitter now, though, and have found my own way, style and identity. The other day I found myself explaining something to my mother (how to make an i-cord). It’s not that the student has become the teacher quite yet (!) but rather that I suddenly realised I’m a knitter now, not an apprentice. I just hope that one day I’ll have people to whom I can pass on the craft – whether daughters or nieces or grandchildren, even sons or nephews maybe – because at the end of the day there’s nothing quite so satisfying as making something yourself out of love and toil and giving it to someone to cherish.