Thursday, March 31, 2005

Collective Histories

Kris gifted me with A Knitter’s Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmermann for my day of birth. I read it in 24 hours. Loved it. Don’t know why, guess it just struck a cord. Here was my favorite part:

“…I very much doubt if anything is really new when one works in the prehistoric medium of wool with needles. The products of science and techonology may be new, and some of them are quite horrible, but knitting? In knitting there are ancient possibilities; the earth is enriched with the dust of the millions of knitters who have held wool and needles since the beginning of sheep…One likes to believe that there is memory in the fingers; memory undeveloped, but still alive.”

I adore this passage. It applies to all things, not just knitting. I come from a family of immigrants. Relatively recent…I’m the third generation born in the States. My family was poor and they came here seeking a new life. Italian on one side, German/British on the other. I most clearly identify with my Italian side. This was the family that was most prominent in my life, the most stereotypical and most loving.

They all worked hard. And today, they have generations of successful offspring that speak to their memory. I can’t help but be moved at the power we all have to honor their memory. Some are easier to honor than others. As with most families there are closests full of dust and grim and yuck. However, I feel many of them in my everyday life. But I feel none of them as strong as I do when I’m knitting or cooking. Am I crazy, or is there really some memory speaking to me? I truly feel as though it’s the later.

Another woman in my knitting group, Barbara, gifted me with the book, Mindful Knitting. She had taken up a dishcloth project described in the book. She was knitting with her grandmother’s needles and was careful to honor her grandmother's memory during the process. How cool.

I have a sock darner thingy and some crochet hooks (49 cents a piece the impression on them tells me.) I guess I’ll go darn some socks – man, stupid ancestors and their inability to save cool things!
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Blogger Jackie said...

It's the latter AND the former. ;)

Thought-inducing post... I love the idea of it too - the echos of our mothers and grandmothers in our needles and kitchens... it's very true.

3/31/2005 9:59 AM  
Blogger Knitting Painter Woman said...

So glad you are feeling better.
I worked as a part time bookseller for a while (had been a librarian for a long time, Master's degree and everything. "They" insisted I be a barrista. So, while I can still foam skim milk with the best of them, my book selling days are over.

Awesome socks. Speed isn't everything.

Where in Boston to you live (more or less).. My darling daughter lives in Reading..... she's a knitter, too.

I'm off to see if there are yogurt/granola bowls in my couch; then to Borders to buy Yarn Harlot's book. :-)

3/31/2005 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Cara said...

Great post! I think about this a lot as my maternal grandmother taught me to knit, but it was my paternal grandmother who really had the knitting talent. I like to think I'm channeling my Nana when I knit. It's in the blood.
Thanks. Have a fantabulous day, chicky!

3/31/2005 11:03 AM  
Blogger Knitting Painter Woman said...

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3/31/2005 11:07 AM  
Blogger Elisa said...

What a great post, Mrs. Wendy. I really envy you and your connection to your roots. While I feel conntected to (some of) my family, they were of the mind that once you moved to America you were American which meant abandoning all the old traditions. As a result, although I know my family is from Germany (all of them - you have seen my nose and hips) I don't identify with anything German at all. It's wierd, too, because I was raised in part by my G'ma, and she could knit, sew, cook, bake, etc., but she didn't pass down any of those crafts to me.

\Long rambling comment. ;)

3/31/2005 4:45 PM  
Blogger Gypsymoth4 said...

Nice post, Wendy. I envy that connection! It reminds me of "Like Water for Chocolate" (crazy movie, but I loved it). I am first generation on my mother's side, but not too much in the way of tradition was handed down. Guess I'll have to start the tradition myself! :)

3/31/2005 6:02 PM  
Blogger Gypsymoth4 said...

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3/31/2005 6:02 PM  

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