I love to knit. If I have a spare moment and an itch in my fingers, I will take time to knit. I know most twenty-year-olds do not knit. Seize the grandma jokes–I probably heard it already. Now I am okay spending a whole night in just knitting away.
Before college, I had absolutely no interest in knitting. In middle school, we had to take a sewing class. The machines were ancient and always breaking. No matter how well I followed instructions, the machine always broke and died on me. So why would I become a knitter?
One reason is the service project of knitting knights, which I discovered at the involvement fair.
At the college involvement fair, I scouted out the tables that sounded interesting. In case you didn’t know, St. Norbert has a ton of clubs. Over seventy in fact. My options were staggering.
As a little freshman trying to find her place to fit in, I was overwhelmed. So many upperclassmen were calling to me, complimenting me on my outfit, my looks, and telling me their club was the place for me. It was flattering and insane. I knew it was all just an ad, but I looked at every table I could. Movies always said the clubs you picked would define your college experience. I didn’t want to miss out on anything.
Through my aimless meanderings, I came across a girl knitting alone at a table with her leg in a cast. She sat there with a calm expression on her face, knitting. On her table, a whole collection of baby hats of varying colors were displayed. In front, a hand-markered sign read “Knitting Knights” in just as colorful colors as the hats.
I was struck. At first, I didn’t even know she was knitting. The girl noticed me standing there, staring at the hats, and asked, “Do you know how to knit?”
I obviously did not.
She nodded her head. “Do you want to learn? I can teach you. You don’t have to know in advance to join knitting knights.”
I shrugged and asked what they do. She then explained how Knitting Knights knits baby hats and donates them to prenatal units as their service project. At St. Norbert, in order to be a club, you have to have some sort of community service every semester.
That was what pulled me in. I was a preemie and spent the first week of life in a prenatal unit. In a keepsake cabinet, my parents have the little hat that I was brought home in that was gifted to me by the hospital. In my mind, I was brought back to the sentimental feeling my parents’ shared over the little hat. Instantly, I saw it as an opportunity to pay such positivity forward.
That was one reason I joined.
The second reason is because of my aunt on the day my grandfather died.
When I was nine years old, my grandfather passed away suddenly. He had been sick for ages, but he had been doing better, so we had thought he was going to be okay. Then at three or four in the morning, we woke up to an urgent phone call from one of my aunts and my grandmother urging us to get up north at soon as possible.
On the way up north, we got another phone call saying he had passed.
It was heart wrenching.
My grandfather was my best friend. Every time I saw him, I told him about the books I was reading, the little stories I had written myself, and how school was going. He thought everything I did and had to say was interesting. Whenever I heard he was coming to visit, I was ecstatic.
He also spent a whole day helping me with math that I was struggling with that I couldn’t understand. I hated the timed math tests we had in school because I was never fast enough. After spending a whole day with him, him with a cup of the blackest coffee and me with milk, I became one of the fastest kids on the timed math test.
When he died, I was emotionally and physically crushed.
Eventually, we got to the hospital, hours too late, and met the rest of my family in a bleak lobby. My dad stayed with my sisters and I in the lobby while my mom went to see the body of her father and grieve with her mom, sisters, and brother. My dad did not leave me as I shook and got up a number of times to throw up. We spent an eternity in that sad lobby.
After hours, my dad took me over to one of his sister’s houses. He wanted to be able to support my mother while ensuring I was okay. This left me alone to process at my aunt Chrissy’s house. I sprawled on her carpet with a bucket and didn’t know what to do with myself. My aunt sat on the couch and started knitting.
When my body seemed calm enough, I went and sat next to my aunt on the couch and watched up close what she was doing. I was entranced by the yarn winding and dodging her needles as she made a block of fabric. It was like magic.
Noticing my curiosity, she asked me if I wanted to try. She slowly showed me what she was doing and then guided my small hands to imitate her movements. Softly, she coached me and explained how to fix the wrong movements I seemed programmed to do. She encouraged my efforts and told me what a natural I was.
I made a hole in what I think was a wash cloth. But that’s besides the point.
For however long she allowed my clumsy fingers to ruin her project, I found knitting calming and an escape from the sorrow.
Knitting still serves me to unwind from day to day stresses and just relax. It also allows me time to reflect and think about what I am doing in life. Or allows me the lie of being productive as I knit and watch a movie. Both are great.
“Knitting not only relaxes me, it also brings a feeling of being at home.” ~Magdelena Neuner