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Throwback Thursday- How Kathleen Learned to Knit

Who taught you to knit?

This is a question knitters are often asked . The answers vary; some folks are self-taught, others learned from family members, and many others others come to knitting in a more circular manner. I am one of those others.

friends for over 20 years
friends for over 20 years

It was Easter weekend 2006. I had gone off to a weekend craft retreat in Wisconsin with my friend Karen and group of other women, some who I knew well, others I was just meeting. I hadn’t really wanted to go at first. I wasn’t a quilter, and most of the women there were quilters or scrapbookers (something else I don’t do).  But Karen persisted. “It will be fun!” So I agreed to go on the condition she teach me to knit. I wanted to learn, and she’s an excellent knitter.

So off we went to Wisconsin. We stopped at a cute little Amish furniture store. I bought a nightstand from their sale room. We bought cheese. We arrived at the retreat house and prepped the food we were going to serve to the ladies for our community meal.

Noro Lily Solid color 20
Noro Lily Solid color 20

That evening, Karen presented me with a pretty ball of blue yarn (it was Noro Lily, a cotton-silk blend now sadly discontinued) and a set of bamboo knitting needles. She showed me how to do a long-tail cast-on, talking through each of the steps.  I took the yarn and needles from her, and after a few false starts  I more-or-less executed a perfect long-tail cast-on, which earned me a funny look. Then she showed me the knit stitch, which I also was able to do very quickly.  As in instantly and with almost no hesitation. So she politely asked me “Who taught you to knit“?  and I answered, “I’m not sure. Maybe my grandma? But she was a crocheter.”

Karen walked into the house and told our friend Dawn “B***CH already knows how to knit”!!!! We laugh about it to this day.

My mother MaryAnne when she was 21
My mother MaryAnne when she was 21

I called my mother that evening to ask if my Grandma had taught me to knit. She told me she taught me how to knit when I was really little. I have no memory of it, but my hands and brain knew what to do.

I remember her sitting and knitting, making a big green sweater for my dad. And a ripple afghan (which I have here in Minnesota at my house).  When she found out I was knitting, she gave me all her mother’s metal needles in the original rolls. Aluminum Boye needles from the 1960’s. I love having them. They are a touchstone.  I never really knew her mother. She died when I was two years old.


My mother passed away in 2013 and I miss her so much. I think of her every day, especially when I knit. It’s one of the best gifts she ever gave me.


Tomorrow: That ripple afghan. And maybe those metal knitting needles.



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