22 June 2007

Yesterday once more

The long hot summers of my childhood coupled with my drive to always be doing something coupled with my interest in how things are done coupled with my interest in learning something new...

Did you get all that?

Cut to the chase, that's how I got interested in handicrafts. As well as cooking and telling novel-length epics starring Barbie. And running around the backyard and building dams in tree wells when I was doing my chores and digging to China to the near ruination of the enormous tree we had. And writing and illustrating my own books. I can't claim my interest in kickball generated from the same set of circumstances. That was more pure pleasure in my own brute strength, and wanting to kick the ball over all the guys' heads. And biking into the mountains...that had more to do with running away from boredom.


The summer of 9 or 10, I decided I wanted to learn to knit. And to embroider. And to crochet. And to sew. Preferably all at once.

I am a voracious reader, and have been since about the age of 3, when words suddenly made sense. Growing up in a place where the populace is relatively one-dimensional tends to have certain advantages if there is a good public library, and we were fortunate enough to have one a mile or so away. When I was old enough to have my own library card, I proceeded to check out about half the children's section in one go. The person at the circulation desk admonished that I was only allowed to check out what I could read in 3 weeks, and overhearing this, my mother responded grimly, "Oh, she'll read them."

I was endlessly fascinated by the other worlds that the library offered up to me: travel back into history where little girls embroidered samplers, or helped knit clothing for their families, or collected eggs, or beat up a cake by hand. And there were girls more my contemporaries who were fortunate enough to have attics and basements where old trunks yielded ghosts and web-laden treasures. (But no mouse poop. You notice that? There were never any Hanta-virus infected rats in the basement or rabid bats in the attic. I've never been bothered by the animals themselves, but thoroughly disgusted by the diseases they might carry).


The girls in books knew how to knit, so I wanted to knit. I wanted to know what it was like. I wanted to know how it felt to bake a cake from scratch, and I'll never forget the look on my mother's face when she found me beating cake batter with a wooden spoon with the electric hand mixer sitting idly by. I admit I had to stop short of the wood-burning oven, but having to deal with the pilot light on our cranky 30-year-old gas oven was probably more dangerous anyway.

Recently, the daughter decided she wanted to learn more about knitting and sewing and crocheting. This came about in part because her best friend A. knows how to do some of these things, and in part because the Joes are lacking many of the amenities that makes life livable for a Joe. Mainly, pillows and blankets.

One evening, I found the daughter, who was mightily displeased, fiddling with trying to sew a pillow. A year or so earlier, we'd made a sleeping bag for Ken-as-Legolas-who-is-not-Orlando-Bloom, and she was trading on that knowledge to try to put the pillow together. I sat with her for a bit and helped her to get back on track, and she finished the pillow on her own, quite pleased.

But she mentioned, a little shyly, that she'd like to learn to knit because Jake and Jake and Jake and Tim and Kendrick (Kendrick? When was one of them baptized Kendrick? We realized belatedly that he must have been named for Howie Kendrick, one of our current favorite Angels) lacked blankets. The Barbie Dream House could be a little drafty for a blanketless Joe. So I dragged out a set of knitting needles that looked like it would fit her hands and showed her how to knit.

She hasn't gotten too far on the blanket yet, and now that it is summer, the Joes can sleep somewhat more comfortably in the open air. But I can't help but be amused that a girl who has never been interested in dolls per se, wants to knit things to comfort her Joes.

Go listen to some good music: "Yesterday Once More" from the album Now and Then by The Carpenters.