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Knitting: A Love Story

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I have an unusual hobby.
I knit, you see, and yes, I am young. “But that’s a grandma thing,” most people say, failing to hide their laughter behind tell-tale smirks.
Oh, yes, very funny.
What ‘most people’ don’t realize is that knitting has quite a glamorous history. It’s connected to villainy, war heroics and the lace of the Victorian era. Knitted socks have been found in ancient Egyptian sarcophagi; rich ladies of the Renaissance were painted with needles and yarn in hand. And, of course, among the ranks of famous knitters stand these most notorious and beloved literary matriarchs: Madame Defarge, the cruel revolutionary matron of A Tale of Two Cities, and Molly Weasley, unsung hero and head of the large Weasley clan in Harry Potter.
It’s a great legacy to follow, really. It takes very deft finger work to turn unintelligible stitches into perfect code as Madame Defarge did, and while I don’t pretend to agree with her ideologies, I have always been impressed with her methods. In Mrs. Weasley’s case, knitting jumpers for her seven children each Christmas must take a great deal of time and effort, though she does use magic to speed things along. That both women manage to knit while still maintaining reputations as dignified and, at times, terrifying women is a testament to them both, and very much the reason why both are high on my list of favorite literary characters.
In ninth grade, my English class read A Tale of Two Cities. Enamored with Madame Defarge’s knitted code, I decided I had to teach my class how to knit as well. Armed with twenty pairs of cheap needles and balls of yarn, we spent hours muddling through basic stitches at various levels of competence. My teacher sat at her desk and laughed as some of my classmates threw down their work in frustration. I whirled about the room and fixed mistakes, laughing along at each aggravated shout of “No! What happened?! I was doing so well!”
I don’t know if that experience helped my peers to better appreciate Dickens; I don’t even know if any of my classmates retained anything I taught them. I do hope I was able to impart to my peers the glorious gravity of the knitting culture—its history has made it noble, and its literary portrayals have made it no less illustrious.
Several years have passed since then, and I still knit constantly. I recently finished my very own Weasley jumper, like those that Mrs. Weasley knits for her children each Christmas. It was certainly an exercise in patience, but I persevered, determined to struggle on to its welcome end. As I took the last stitches off my needles and stretched my new jumper over my head, I was filled with satisfaction—I thought of my ninth grade knitting adventures and realized that, without knowing it, I am becoming a part of the very history that I so admire.



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elarebadaxe said...
Apr. 5, 2012 at 3:25 pm:
I love this article! It is probably my favorite out of everything I have read on this website.  I knit too, so I know how you feel about people connecting knitting with "grandmas."  I loved how you explained the very noble history of knitting! Well done! 
 
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Susan T. said...
Oct. 25, 2011 at 10:26 pm:
So creative and says so much about you! Love it!
 
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