Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Picking Up Stitches

Marie Louise

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.
It will not lead you astray.

In the last five days I have completed five rows of knitting, except for the second row, which my friend Joani finished off when my hand cramped up.

This is a great and unexpected event. Ever since I tried to get my grandma to teach me and she laughed my awkward fingers off the wool—Maybe you should try crochet, she said. It’s easier—I have cast not a single stitch, nor considered that I ever could. I have recently been gearing up to learn to sew a bit, since the simple clothes I like are not accessible easily, but knit? It never crossed my mind.

However, you will see the pleasure that I take in knitted wristlets, of which I have a dozen pairs or more. Wood, wool, leaf and feather, branchlet, sundog, fire. I love the taste and texture of the living world and every time I pass the wool shop—always closed—I stop and linger at the glass, taking in the skeins and skeins of every coloured yarn, the toques and neckpieces, the birchwood needles, the baskets... A feast for eyes and heart.

A friend asked if anyone knew how to make the cables stand out more clearly in his sweaters. I stopped by the store—open for a change—and asked.

And chatted and sat. Was challenged, So are you going to learn to knit now?

This is how I see it.

No. I am not going to learn to knit. I don’t want another craft to labour over, study, perfect. I want a restful pastime. Something to do with my hands besides making something else to eat.

The young saleswoman swore she found knitting more relaxing than yoga, which she teaches. Well, I doubt I would. And with hands full of cramps I can’t expect to do a lot. But a single line? That’s kind of pleasant. Touching the wool, the smooth wood of the needles, admiring the colours of each. Making that simple stitch I saw made so many times so many years ago.

Maybe, after a few more weeks or months, I’ll have enough of my weird uneven rows to stitch the ends together and slide it on my wrist.

Oh, no! I just realized I’d have one wrist left to go. Oh, well. There’s always next year.

“...drawn silently by the strange pull of what you really love...” I love you, Gramma. And I do understand.

My grandma was named Marie Louise. Her mother was from France, her father was from Belgium, and she grew up in southern Saskatchewan. In Forget, in Saint Hubert. At four she went to live with the sisters, she and her sister Julienne. She stayed with them for more than twenty years, visiting her family on some vacations as they moved about trying to strike a living from the land.

She became a mother one day, marrying a man who came in on a threshing team. But how do you mother when you have never seen it done?

So laugh at my unschooled ways. My hurt is your hurt, too. But I love you still and like you eventually did, in the glamour of senility, I have let go of my anger at such acts of insensitivity.

Remember when you looked up at the flowers on the wallpaper and said how beautiful they were? When you heard children play outside and watched with vague curiosity? Remember me sitting next to you? Those were lovely days. Sweet moments and sad ones as you gradually went away. I had those. Who cares if I never learned to knit?

Theresia & Marie Louise, Priest's House, Forget, Saskatchewan