Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Music, Maestro

One of my mom's prize-winning creations
 My mom could make knitting needles sing. Each design had its own melody, each type of stitch its own tone. She was so expert with the needles and yarn that the song of the shawl or sweater or cap never hit a false note, never fell flat, never screeched into dissonance. The yarn kept a natural rhythm in the interval from a round ball to woven composition.
She could unite a trio of disparate skeins in perfect counterpoint or harmonize dozens of
leftover odds and ends into a serenade of love.
The needles used to create the masterpieces were metal. When she was absorbed in a project we would fall asleep to their accented refrain and wake to it the next morning.

Because metal needles were the needles of choice for my maestro mother, they had to be the best, the only needles worth having. So when, at an advanced age, I decided to take up knitting, I asked my mom if I could use some of her needles. She said certainly, as long as I didn’t want her to try and teach me how to knit. Again.

I tried to teach myself. The needles didn’t sing, they screeched. I didn’t create masterpieces, I created discord. I took my formless mass to a friend. Her first question was, “Why don’t you try wooden needles?”

I looked at her with silent outrage. My mother used metal needles. How dare this upstart question those instruments that had conducted hundreds of classic creations?
I gathered up my knotted mess and coldly informed her that I could take it from here, thank you.

The next time I visited my mother she hurried me to her living room.
“Look what I bought!” she said, flourishing a pair of wooden knitting needles. “I wish I’d had these years ago! You can keep those metal ones honey. I won’t be needing them.”

My shapeless mass of knotted yarn is still in a bag in the bottom of my closet. But I did find a use for my mom’s metal knitting needles.


Robin J. Steinweg said...

No dissonance in your post today, Prude. What fun! Your composition at the bottom is pure inspiration.

Lori Lipsky said...

As one who is just learning to knit, I loved reading this post. Loved hearing how your mom made music with the sound of the needles. Loved seeing your mom's creation at the top, but also her daughter's at the bottom. Both are beautiful in their own way.

Sue Vick Finley said...

Very cute and funny. "knotted mess" and "formless mass" etc. etc. ...so perfect and funny. Thanks

Tammy said...

Ahhh... a post after my own heart! Your mom's blanket is beautiful. I hope to someday have the perseverance to complete something so large!

As for the needles, wooden needles have a better grip so you are less likely to drop or tangle stitches. I use both metal and wood depending on the fiber.

Don't give up! It takes practice. Start with a cotton dishcloth. I'll make you a deal, you knit something and finish it... and I'll send you a pair of handknit socks! :)

Lori Lipsky said...


You should take Tammy's challenge! Just think, before the cold of winter sets in, you could have a pair of hand knit socks!

Maybe I should try wooden needles....maybe that's my problem:-).

The Prude said...

OK Tammy, you are on!!!!!!

Tammy said...

Color and size?