Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Jews Don't Throw

I went to my real knitting circle tonight at Rosie's - where there wasn't an acrylic garter scarf in sight. Sigh. My friends shuddered at my poolside knitting, rightly thinking that I had been recruited for the sole purpose of giving free knitting lessons, not for the pleasure of my delightful company. I did start to feel badly about my snide comments about the garter scarf -- you have to start somewhere right? If it's only practice, and you're not really going to wear it, and it's certainly not going to be a gift, and no one is going to see it, well, then what the hell is wrong with acrylic anyway? (Hmm, there are those maybes again when you're rationalizing). You wouldn't want to waste wool on practice, right? Well, that lead to a discussion about how we learned to knit, and who throws their yarn, and one woman matter-of-factly said, "Jews don't throw." (Uch, I just thought of something really disgusting - another myth about what Jews don't do . . . another falsehood, by the way). Her theory was that since nice Jewish knitters are generally taught how to knit by their mother's who likewise were taught by their mothers, we all are taught a very Eastern European style of knitting, NO THROWING.

Well, unfortunately, my mom isn't quite the knitter. The best best Chicken Soup with Matzah Balls in the entire universe (hmm . . . future blog - Soup to Knit By, recipe to follow), but knitter? eh. My grandmother on my mother's side crocheted, but by the time I was old enough to learn, she had stopped, her hands no longer nimble. My other grandmother may have knit or crocheted at one point, but I all I remember is her hands mangled by arthritis. So, the task to teach me was left to my mother alone.

Here is my first knitting lesson:

There's a smile on my face, but I was throwing my yarn, dropping stitches, adding stitches. Frustration lead to fear which lead to hate, the force was not with me, I went to the dark side, and my knitting was quickly abandoned. (Uch! Did I just refer to SciF? Sorry West Wingers). Years later, when I picked it up again, this time with much more success, it was time for me to teach my mom. Now, I check her stitches, to make sure she hasn't dropped or added. I attempt to fix her deviations from her patterns (although sometimes they just become design elements). I've refreshed her memory of how to increase and decrease. She is queen of the Chemo Cap with her Hadassah group, and she proudly wears the shawls, scarves, sweaters I've made her to her Red Hat Luncheons, nodding and saying, "My daughter made it." Now, all I have to do is catch up to my brother and give her a grandchild for whom she can knit to her heart's content. Thank goodness for my brother!


DDancer said...

I don't know about Philly, but here in Pittsburgh, most of the Jews I know who knit, use the English (or Throw) method. Strange how only a few miles can make such a difference.

Happy knitting!


merrill said...

Wendy, You've inspired me! I'll try to start my photoblog this weekend. I need West Wing group-think to come up with a non-cringeworthy name for it. tried to leave you a found photo here, but no go. learning the boundaries.

Looking forward to reading the pool piece.

Blogger Wannbe

merrill said...

forgot to mention how much I love the photos with your mom. what a treasure!

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