I originally posted this back in 2006, when I first got back into knitting seriously. These days I have more needles, more cases, more yarn. But this is where it all started.
The story of the knitting needles is this:
When I was 18 I was living in Vermont and working at an antique mall – about five hundred five foot by five foot booths filled with local antiques. Local dealers would buy out estate sales and such, and set up these booths, and then dealers from NYC and Boston would come up and buy out the local dealers, and by the time something got to the person who would actually own it, it ended up costing quadruple what the local dealer had bought it for in the first place.
There were two great perks of working at the antique mall – you got 10% off anything in the booths you bought, and you got first pick over anything that was not antique enough to make it to display before the dealers hauled it off to goodwill or the dumpsters. Which is how I got fifteen pairs of knitting needles, a full set of crochet hooks, two dozen stitch holders, two needle/stitch gauges and a very nice pair of little german scissors for five bucks. It was all packed up in this hideous orange flowered vinyl needle case, slightly ripped up and bulging from how much was crammed into it.
It wasn’t antique enough for the dealer to bother trying to display and sell, though the crochet lace tablecloths were going front and center. Thus, overnight, I went from own no knitting equipment at all, to being better supplied then my mother (who was at the time selling hand knit kids sweaters for pin money).
I don’t know who my mysterious benefactor was — someone who died or went into a nursing home in Vermont in 1993. She (I’ll assume it was a she) was a skilled crocheter – some of those lace tableclothes were astounding, and I think she must have knit afghans. There’s a size 13 circular set with a 25 inch cable, and a pair of size 19 needles. What else but afghans?
I like to think in some small way I’m carrying on a lineage when I use these tools – it pleases me to imagine other hands where mine are, other fabrics in other patterns growing under other fingers.
Knitting is, at is most essential, nothing more or less then an endless chain of loops, each loop supporting and being supported by the others. My mother’s sweaters, my grandmother’s patience, the needles of an unknown woman, my own fidgeting hands and love of wool – all part of the endless chain. I hope that some day my daughter, or grand-daughter, or even some stranger at an estate sale or a thrift shop find their own place in the chain with these tools that I so serendipitously inherited.