I found out that my mom had knit once. One project. And finished it. Shocker #1. I had not known my mother had knit anything. She said it was a scarf, and her tension was so tight that it was almost impossible to move the stitches on the needles. I totally sympathized with her on that one. When I first learned to knit, I made stockinette stitch resemble Kevlar. She carried it to the movies to knit on it before the show would begin, and finished it in time for Valentine's Day, or their anniversary, she couldn't recall which. She never picked up needles again, but I was impressed. She knit a scarf. Just one. Did not feel the wooly fingers of addiction grab her in the least. But...she did finish it. She has a waaaay better track record (percentage-wise) at finishing stuff than I do. She bats .1000 on that one.
I had to laugh to myself when I asked her whatever became of it. I presumed that it must have been lost or abandoned or thrown out years ago. "Oh, it's still around here somewhere," she said. My parents just moved to North Carolina from out of state this past June, and have moved six times since I was born, and this scarf was knit over a decade beforehand. Even a non-habitual knitter, having knit ONE OBJECT (and finished it--dang!), has the presence of mind to know that a handknit is something to hold on to. Hey, are you still a non-knitter if you have actually knit something? Discuss....
Then she casually mentions how she had learned to knit whilst watching a "show on PBS" and, I swear, my skin prickled. My ears perked up. My hair stood at attention. "Um, mom," I said, "was it 'The Knitting Workshop'?"
"It was so long ago, honey," she said, "before we had Lynda [my oldest sister], and--"
"Did she have long gray hair pulled back in a bun?" I blurted out. I was rooted there, just gripped.
"Well, yes, and she had an English accent and was very funny about how people didn't have to knit so tightly, unless they wanted to," my mom said.
"HOLY COW THAT WAS ELIZABETH ZIMMERMANN, MOM!!!!! YOU SAW ELIZABETH ZIMMERMANN ON 'THE KNITTING WORKSHOP' WHEN IT ORIGINALLY AIRED!!!!"
Enter big fat SHOCKER #2.
You may be sitting there, reading this (hey, how're you doin', by the way?), and going, "yeah, so?" or something like that. But, I swear, this was the equivalent of finding out your mom hung out with...oh, I dunno...Mick Jagger. It's like that time my sister Lauren sat down in the food court at the mall and realized she was sitting across the aisle from Andrew Dice Clay. Well, that's not exactly a moment you would want to brag about, perhaps. It's that buzz you get from realizing you know someone who knows someone who actually rode in an elevator with Benecio Del Toro. I do know someone who...um, yeah, the Benecio thing. Cool, huh?
I told my husband last night, and I got all wild-eyed and overly excited all over again. His counter-story included someone he knew who rode in an elevator with Elvis Costello AND Joan Jett. But neither of them are knitters. Are they? I googled it, just to see. Can't say I'm not doing research here, folks.
Perhaps this conversation seemed such a bombshell because Elizabeth Zimmermann has been on my mind lately. Her newest book,
published posthumously, recently arrived at my house, and I've been devouring the beautiful designs in it. I wanted to write about EZ, but what in the world could I say that hasn't already been said, and said much better than I ever could put it? My mother holds Julia Child in the same esteem that I hold Elizabeth Zimmermann.
I still qualify as a "blind follower", as she would put it, but I have high hopes that one day, thanks entirely to her "unventing" things, and her EPS percentages for making your own custom-fitted knits, I will be a fearless knitter.