A Tale of Two Women

Where is Auntie when I need her? My great aunt was a crafter before the shorthand existed. A home economics teacher in rural Tennessee, she taught me how to crochet as a child (I seemed constitutionally unable to learn to knit) and going to her tiny house out on the highway meant diving into closets full of fabric. She had a big field of green beans in front, a kitchen counter where we would eat buttery corn on the cob, a litter of kittens under the porch. Now that I’ve finally learned to love knitting, but lack the know-how to do much with it, I could really use her patient hands, deftly lifting the yarn and looping it back on the needle to help me out of whatever spot I’ve gotten myself in now.

After I gave a talk today at Ossining Library I began thinking about what has always made me want to write about strong women. Blandine van Couvering, Margaret Hardenbroeck, and the rest of the ladies I’ve treated in my nonfiction. Growing up with Auntie is one reason. Another is my father’s mother, also a force of nature, but in a different style. She did things her way, always. With a Polish-Jewish family only recently come to America, she ate lobster. When Joyce’s Ulysses was still banned in the U.S., she got her hands on a rare copy. She was a certifiable intellectual, a Manhattanite, with New York windows that overlooked the craggy grey outcroppings of Central Park.

They were two of my earliest heroines. What they would make of me as an adult I can’t say for sure, but I hope I’d do them proud.


Filed under Cooking, Fiction, History, Jean Zimmerman

3 responses to “A Tale of Two Women

  1. Lori

    The fault may be in your yarn, not your stitches. What is the fiber content of your yarn, as in, is it wool, rayon, cotton, what? What size of needles are you using, and what size of yarn? Are you working with wool? Wool yarn is notorious for being difficult to work with because of it’s tendency to cling to itself.
    Perhaps what you need to do is work a practice swatch of knit and purl stitches in order to get comfortable with knitting into a purled stitch. If you need a quick and easy pattern to give you the needed experience I can email one to you. You can use it to make a potholder.
    One trick I learned from my grandmother is to knit a sample of the pattern of the intended piece. If the pattern repeats after, say, 8 stitches and 12 rows I will knit up a swatch that is 24 stitches wide and 24 rows long. It’s big enough to give my fingers experience so that when I start knitting the actual piece I have no problems with the pattern.
    Let me know if any of this works for you. — Lori

  2. That’s a nice offer. Perhaps next time I hit a wall? For now I’m trying to figure out why it’s so difficult sometimes to knit into a purl stitch. I purl as loose as I can but still I struggle.

  3. Lori

    If you need help with your knitting, I would be able to help you. Do you Skype? That would be the easiest way, since I could see what problems you’re having and be able to give you tips or show you how with my own knitting needles. I have been teaching people how to knit, crochet and tat since 1978. Doesn’t matter if you are female, male, left handed or right, or what style of knitting you’d like to do.
    It has always been my policy to teach for free. However, if you want me to do something for you, that will cost you. But if you want to learn, I’ll teach you. I can also correct dropped stitches, help you remember which direction you were knitting in, help you hide ends and change yarns and all sorts of common knitting errors and issues.
    Remember, knitting is supposed to be fun!
    Good luck! — Lori

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