When my daughter asked me for knitting lessons, I immediately said: “Yes.”
“Don’t do it,” said my husband. “You know what happens when you knit.”
“I’ll be fine.” I opened the door to the garage and marched into darkness. After I flicked on the light, I rummaged around storage boxes and uncovered three skeins of yarn. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the knitting needles. I must have donated them when I went cold turkey. But I did find a crochet hook.
I raced out of the garage and upstairs to my daughter’s room.
“Let’s start with crochet,” I told my fourth grader. “That’s what I learned first.” I pointed out the obvious advantages, one hook instead of two needles, and one stitch instead of knit and purl. “Of course, crocheting doesn’t have to be boring,” I said, pushing up my reading glasses. “There’s double crochet and the granny stitch, chevrons and tatting.” My heart was beginning to race. “But you can single crochet both directions and it’s really easy.”
“Great.” My daughter reached for the yarn. “I want to make a scarf.”
“Not so fast.” I yanked the skein away. “Let me start the first two rows for you. That’ll make it easier.”
“Put down the yarn!” My husband called from downstairs. “I beg you.”
“Don’t listen to him.” I closed the door, sat down on the carpet under the light and tugged at the skein. “Worsted weight yarn. So basic, and yet so versatile.” My fingers wrapped around the steel hook and I chain-stitched the foundation.
It’d been 13 years, but my hands knew exactly what to do. Endorphins flooded my bloodstream as my mind zoned out into the rhythmic hook and release of the yarn. My fingers flashed, the yarn twisted off the hook and one row turned into two.
My daughter raised her eyebrows. “Wow, Mom, you’re really good at that.”
“Oh, sweetheart,” I said without one ounce of humility, “I’m an expert.”
The past stretched behind me like an afghan trailing down the stairs. My 20s were full of blankets, sweaters, lace and scarfs. My 30s were a wasteland of nothing. Now, here I was at 40, hook in hand, feeling the buzz of relaxation mixed with creativity.
“Is it my turn yet?” my daughter asked.
“One more row.” I poked and prodded the yarn, explaining each move as I went. “Poke. Hook. Pull it through. Release. It’s easy-peasy,” I said — but it wasn’t. My right hand cramped. Pain shot up my arm like a rocket. My wrist ached and then went numb.
Those old friends of mine, Tendinitis and Carpal Tunnel, had shown up for old-times’ sake.
“Here.” I thrust the yarn into my 9-year-old’s hands. “Your turn.”
“This is really hard,” she said a few minutes later. “Can you show me again?”
“Sure.” I ignored my throbbing elbow and reached for the hook. Now my other arm was hurting, too, just like my husband had predicted. “On second thought,” I said putting down the yarn with a huge sigh, “maybe this is a job for Grandma.”
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal.