Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Knitting to The Bike in the Parlor

Sometimes when I knit in public, people come up to me and talk to me about how knittting has touched their lives.  One of my favorite stories is here, paraphrased, as told to me by a frail-looking woman of unknown age.  She spoke with a European accent I couldn't quite recognize, but I was so fascinated by the story that I forgot to ask her where she was from.  I hope you're as captivated as I was.

I learned to knit from my mother when I was a child.  It was during the second World War, and we would knit at night, often during the blackouts. 

I didn't have any needles.  My father had a spare bicycle wheel, and he clipped out a couple of spokes for me to use for knitting needles.  His bicycle had a light on the front, and he'd ride his bike in a little stand in the parlor to give us a little light during blackouts.  My mother would unravel our outgrown socks and sweaters, and taught me to knit socks with the old yarn.  Eventually I moved on to gloves and mittens. 

I remember for Christmas one year I received two skeins of soft, blue wool!  It was very extravagant.  No one could afford new wool.  It was all going to the war effort.  But there it was, just waiting for me to make anything I wanted!  I was so excited!

"What did you make?"

I made gloves for my mother.  She loved them.  She would darn the holes and wore them for years.  She said they were the best gloves she ever had.

The woman smiled at the memory.  She was clearly transported back to another place and time.  She looked at my knitting, now at rest in my lap as I listened to her story.

"It's nice to see that people are still knitting.  I never really cared for the store-bought sweaters.  It was nice to know that something had been made just for me by someone who loved me."

She walked away smiling.  I still smile every time I think of her.  I tell her story in my classes, to remind my students that we have it easy with our knitting in the scheme of things.  We're part of a wonderful tradition of handcrafts that has been transferred from person to person for hundreds of years.  That knitting was a life skill so important that it was taught on bicycle spokes by bike-light makes it more meaningful to me. 



f1bercat said...

How lovely, and how telling, that when she received some special yarn, she made a gift for her mother. Thank you for this wonderful story.

Cynthiacc said...

That is a beautiful story! Isn't it wonderful that you put a smile on her face because of your knitting and the memories it stirred?