atwood & knitting
While I was in the hospital dealing with my cyst, I was all out of reading material in short order. (You wouldn't believe the things I read that day to take my mind off the pain. Shut up, Donald Sutherland. You too, Benedict XVI.) The Boy, unable to find a good magazine, found a copy of "Toronto Life" with lots of fiction. Eventually I succumbed to the boredom and cracked it open.
The very first story, "The Art of Cooking and Serving" by Margaret Atwood, caught my attention immediately:
The summer I was eleven I spent a lot of time knitting. I knitted doggedly, silently, crouched over the balls of wool and the steel needles and lengthening swath of knitwear in a posture that was far from easy. I'd learned to knit too early in life to have mastered the trick of twisting the strand around my index finger--the finger had been too short--so I had to jab the right-hand needle in, hold it there with two left-hand fingers, then lift the entire right hand to loop the wool around the tip of the needle. I'd seen women who were able to knit and talk at the same time, barely glancing down, but I couldn't do it that way. My style of knitting required total concentration and caused my arms to ache, and irritated me a lot.
This passage haunted me for weeks (this is how I knit, except that I can talk & knit at the same time and it doesn't cramp up my arms) until this week. Consumed by dread (did I have to go back the drawing board?) I looked up "how to knit: english" in my new Stitch n' Bitch Nation book and saw that the right hand in the diagram left the needle. It was Continental style that had the loop and the steady hands. Whew.
The story wasn't bad, by the way. Knitting is a metaphor for the anxiety the main character feels when her mother becomes pregnant and passive. She knits a layette to show how industrious and "good" she can be. By the end she chucks it all to be normal. Bad news for knitting teenagers, but I suppose it wasn't always the hip thing.
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