Knitting With A Boy

011My oldest is knitting!!

It started a few months ago, when his grade 1 class learned how to fingerknit.  And he has been fingerknitting little belts and strings in the car, at home, and even during a (long-ish) musical concert.  He’ll ask if he can knit, then go to the little wooden shelf where I keep my modest stash of yarn, and fingerknit away.  It’s marvelous.

He also asked me several months ago if he could do some knitting with two needles, and we tried.  It was a bit too tricky, and we shelved the project for another day.  And I confess that although he has asked me a few times since then to try knitting again, I’ve resisted, thinking it was still a bit too early to learn.

But I put it squarely on the table again, when I picked up the needles again myself a little while ago.  Also, my son’s class is moving to knitting with needles soon too.  This, and seeing me work, prompted him to ask again if he could learn to knit, and thank goodness I said yes.

Somehow, something seems to have shifted, and he is ready for it.  He works hard at his knitting, because it is a challenge for such young hands.  It’s not easy, but we are encouraged by all the little steps that show improvement, and I am amazed at how often he asks to knit.  (Like when I am buckling all three kids into the car, for example.)

When we were working on a first little project, the metal needles kept slipping.  I wondered aloud if we should try some bamboo needles, which might be less slippery.  My oldest was very excited about that, and we quickly determined to go to our local yarn shop to buy him some bamboo needles just the right size for him, and a skein of his own yarn.

My son was so keen on going that he helped develop a plan:  we could go while one of his younger brothers was in afternoon kindergarten and the other could be taken in the stroller and nap there.  Also, he said, we could knit there.

And I realized that every word he spoke was true.  My son has gone with me several times to the yarn shop, and seen the knitters who gather at its centre to knit together.  Never have I sat there to knit; I have always been with a child, and also felt a bit shy to join in, as the knitters were experienced and knew each other.

But now I was fortified by an eager companion.  We would go!

And we did, both of us doing something new, learning together.

And it was so nice.

Two Blankets

Do you see that blanket?  I made it.  The pattern is from Stitch ‘N Bitch, and I knit it over a period of four months, a little bit here and a little bit there, for my newborn.  (I put Sophie the Giraffe on it to give a sense of its size.)  I tried my hardest to keep a label to identify what wool it is, but I can’t find any now.  It’s a blend of baby alpaca and merino woool – beautifully soft.  It required four skeins and was expensive.  I love the colours and have been using the blanket everyday so I don’t regret the splurge in any way, but I just had to mention it to give this post an air of reality.

There is no equivalent for my two older boys, and I find myself inevitably attaching some symbolism to this blanket.   I can’t help but think of how far I’ve come since the birth of my first baby.  My transition to motherhood wasn’t particularly smooth.  I know there’s no “arrival” point for being a parent, but I’m much more comfortable in my mother skin, and it feels good. I’ll still relentlessly question most of what I’m doing since that’s how I’m made, but I do now know (better) what parenting approaches and lifestyle I believe in, and have even found a supportive community for it.  Tonight I was at my son’s school’s winter concert, and couldn’t help noticing how many handknits were peppered throughout the audience.  It is but a small point of contact, but again I saw it as a symbol.  I knew I was in an environment where the values of working with our hands, of respecting women’s craft, and of creative and sustainable living, were largely understood.

And yet as I took a celebratory photograph of my baby’s wool blanket, I felt compelled to capture another little blanket, because I feel like paying tribute to it too.  A square cotton receiving blanket, part of a little layette that my sister-in-law bought for me while I was in the hospital five years ago with my firstborn.  I had admitted myself because I couldn’t feel the baby moving, and was told that the placenta had partly abrupted.  After an emergency c-section birth, my premature son lay in an incubator in the neo-natal ICU on another floor in clothes donated by the hospital.

Neither my husband’s parents nor my mother were in the country, but I knew I still had support.  There were people who helped me in those early days, and I’d like to give a good-sized nod to a few of them.  I made a call to my brother, who then spent two hours doing consumer research online before appearing with a baby carseat and a lesson on how to use it.  My sister, who supplied food in the hospital and at home.  And my sister-in-law, for her help in buying me that layette, but especially, unforgettably, for seeing the terrifying birth process as evidence of strength rather than weakness in me.  “I told your brother,” she said, “that you saved that baby.”

And finally, I want to note that very new mother in me.  The professional who looked down at her four pound baby and wondered what on earth to do now.  In a culture that sometimes seems to feed off of the insecurity of mothers, I feel like telling that woman she’s okay.

Two blankets.  Two periods of time.  I value them both.

This post also appears at http://thekingsandi.wordpress.com.