When I was a child I was a bit of a handful. I imagine that, had I been born a few years later, I would have been diagnosed and medicated. As it was, I just needed the extra attention that I couldn’t manufacture myself. This presented a problem because both of my parents worked and I attended an after school program. A program where I was far from being the only child who had needs that the staff was expected to meet.
In the 3rd grade this after school program hired an older lady named Rosa. She was many things, but what I remember was kindness, patience and just a little bit of curmudgeon – enough not to take any nonsense. I have no idea what it was that she saw in me that inspired her unorthodox decision, but she decided to work with my intense amount of fidget and sat me down and taught me to knit with whatever was at hand. Which was Pick-up Sticks and string. Perhaps I had worn her impulse control down to my level. Perhaps she wanted me to be self contained. Whatever the reason it took. I was knitting.
It was years later that I became a knitter.
One of the many indignities I suffered in High School was insomnia. I don’t think I’ve ever known a boredom as fraught with frustration or a dozen other irritations. There were very few things that I could do to occupy my time (this was before the Internet was as densely populated with time wasting distractions) without waking the rest of my family. My favorite was knitting. I threw myself into it with a zeal that my parents wish I had focused on my studies. Hats, mittens, scarves and as soon as I discovered an old battered copy of The First Book of Modern Lace Knitting - lace. Doilies were transformed into hats, bedspreads into scarves and tablecloths into a bonnet and mitts for my niece.
I couldn’t get enough. I soon sought out the local yarn shops. I amassed a collection of needles, patterns and yarn. I set foot on the slippery slope that would lead me to become the knitter I am now. Eventually I began working in yarn stores, teaching classes and publishing patterns. All of this from a small moment between a little girl and an older lady. Some quiet time with two (pick-up) sticks and a bit of string.
Along with the knowledge she gave me I kept the Pick-up sticks.
Thank you Rosa, wherever you are.