Moms, Knitting, and the Childless Woman

My first work on the knitting board.

My mom had this recliner that she called her “nest” in front of the TV. It was her sewing spot, and beside her, she had an antique trunk full of sewing projects – quilting squares, crocheted baby sweaters, a cross-stitch pattern or two.  On the afternoons when I was there as an adult, we would settle into our seats – her in her nest and me on the loveseat nearby – and watch HGTV for an hour or two, both of us sewing away.  Mom’s favorite designer was Candice Olson, a lean, elegant woman whose designs were always lovely, soft, and functional, and I can still see Mom’s long, slender fingers working through double-crochets on a baby hat while she appreciated the layout of a new Olson kitchen.  I loved those afternoons.

Yesterday, when my friend Sue and her friend Pat came to the farm to teach a loom knitting workshop, I was excited.  Sewing is what I have – taking a cue from Mom – done to relax, to settle my mind, to sooth my spirit.  And now, I was going to be able to add another sewing option to my repertoire – knitting.

I have tried several times to knit, and dear friends – including my dearest Heather – have successfully taught me to cast on and knit (I haven’t mastered purling) on needles, but because I don’t keep it up, I lose the lessons almost as fast as I gain them.  So the chance to knit on something other than needles sounded ideal.

It was.  Pat is the creator of the Knitting Board, the first modern knitting loom on which Martha Stewart and others have modeled their designs, and she gave me a one-on-one lesson in my own barn.  Talk about a treat.  Pat was an excellent teacher, and at the end of our workshop, I had knitted the stockinette and ribbed stitch for several inches of a scarf. I think Mom would have liked a knitting board, being a failed knitter learner like me.  She could have easily set it on the trunk to pick up when the next episode of Olson’s show came on. It would have fit into her nest easily.

So this morning, a quiet one like any other Sunday here, I will sit with my knitting board and let myself grieve a little for Mom and for the child we do not (yet?) have.  For me, sewing – crochet, cross-stitch, and now knitting – is a bit like prayer, each stitch  a breath lifting my soul up. I can sit and let my mind wander as I trust that the groans beneath my ribs will find their way out my fingers and into the air like incense.  Gifts of grief and hope and memory.

Sometimes, when I think we may not have children, I imagine myself an older woman. I’m always by a fireplace, and I have a nest of my own (which I’ve already begun to build, incidentally).  I’m sitting, my long, gray curls tugged up into a bun, and I’m making baby sweaters for other people’s children and  grandchildren.  It’s not my ideal vision, but it’s not a bad one. I’m sure I’ll find comfort in the stitches even then.

Happy Mother’s Day to All the Women Out There. All of you.


If you’d like to know more about the Knitting Board, please check out their website.  I truly am enthralled with the tool, and they have the greatest kits, videos, and looms to help you get started.  Plus, there’s a huge bonus from my point of view – they are headquartered in my home county, so when we make purchases, we give jobs and assets back into my hometown.  I love that.