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Grandmother's Needles

I show you the knitting above because of those dear, crooked needles – they were my grandmother’s. She knit with them and now, I do. This means a lot to me.
I love knitting. I love its repetitive nature and its soothing and meditative hand movement. I love that you can create something amazing with only a ball of yarn. A morning of knitting is indulgent and lovely–but knitting on these red needles is something else. They have a history, a past, and it has me thinking about family, about my grandmother. I think about the things she made on these needles and wonder what was going on in her life as she made them. What did she make? What were her worries, her concerns, her dreams, her passions? Was she happy? Was she sad? Did she love it the way I love it?
My mother gave me the collection of my grandmother’s needles, including the handmade case that holds them. The needles are old, bent, loved. The case is torn, ragged and virtually useless, but I love them all. There are lots of three needle sets and single needles, also needles with dried and disintegrated rubber bands still half stuck to their shiny surface. I can’t bring myself to throw out a single one.
I wish I had known my grandmother better. If you are lucky, you may know your grandparent past your childhood. If you are fortunate, you spend a lot of time with your grandparent. But if those things don’t occur for you, that relationship is limited to the time when you are young and forming. When grandparents live far away, that relationship is flickering and tender. This is how my relationship with my grandmother was – periodic and slow-growing. She was gone before I knew it, before I knew her.
Now I wonder, what would my grandmother say if she saw the things I’ve made with her needles? Would she like my blog? I think of her independent and practical nature. She may have said, what a waste of time. She may have wondered how I find the time. She may have wished she could have done something similar. I look at her collection of needles, and the cherished charm bracelet of hers that I have, the one with the thimble and scissors charms. I think she must have loved to make things, she must have. In an odd way, I feel I am communing with that part of her when I use her needles.
I witness the formation of that grandparent-grandchild relationship with my own children. My kids are to the age where they ask questions, have conversations, and can form opinions. This is all good. Grandparents can be inspiring, funny, exciting, or even intimidating. They are looked up to and seem very large in every sense of the word. But, I can’t help but think, what will happen to the memory of that relationship later? What will they remember? Will their view morph, be romanticized, altered dramatically from the reality? Was mine? What will they wish they had asked? shared? I watch them and I want to urge them to remember, to write it down, to capture it in their hearts because it will be gone before they know it.

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