When I take a rest from my busy schedule, I tend to knit. Knitting is in my blood. I remember my mother’s mother knitting, and of course, my mother was a knitter too. Knitting sits solemnly and securely in my mitochondrial DNA. I’m sure that if anyone ever would have to investigate my DNA, they’ll find yarn embedded in the double helix.

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I still have my tiny red sweater, knitted by my mother, 53 years ago. After knitting minuscule sweaters my mother took up knitting cotton kitchen towels. I find those the most relaxing and satisfying projects ever, I’m sure she did too. One does not need a brain to knit these. I’m not indicating here that my mother was not intelligent, or that I am lacking in IQ, it is just that a simple pattern, knitted in a square or, slightly more challenging, in a rectangle is an utterly calming, meditative way of being in the present.

I now understand why I always found my mother knitting when I came home late at night, beyond our mutually agreed home-coming hour. I would sneak around the house, opening the kitchen door very quietly, then tip-toeing through the long hallway to reach the stairs. Before I could set a foot on the first step, my mother would call out my name from the living room. I would open the door and there she would be, in her night gown and bath robe, sitting under a lamp, cigarette at hand and knitting ferociously. Get the picture? A blood curdling scene. My mother stayed calm.

After my children were born, I started knitting kitchen towels too. I understood my mother even better then. My sisters all gave the towel-knitting a go and every now and then we surprised each other with the now so familiar soft square, lovingly wrapped in beautiful paper: Wow! What A Surprise! Another 100% Cotton Hand-Knitted Kitchen Towel!

We started making jokes about our knitting. We were sure that we were able to knit our own bras too, the under wire cleverly constructed by using old thin metal knitting needles, and what about a knitted cover for our most precious bicycle? (After all, I lived in The Netherlands). I even went on a course for pre-menopausal women: How to install your self knitted doorbell on your front door and How to repair your child’s’ tricycle with left-over yarn. That course came in handy, when my mother grew older, her walking became more difficult and she needed the support of a zimmer frame; we did use sea green left-over yarn to tie together the brake cables, preventing them sticking out dangerously to the sides. She loved it that we found an alternative use for her treasured yarn. By then, Parkinson’s disease had taken its toll on my mother’s fine motor skills; knitting had become impossible for her.

Knitting can also be a lovely community happening. I’m knitting frequently with dedicated knitters as much as I can. I may even be tempted to knit socks or something oval at one point in my life… Exciting!

– Karin Schluter Lonegren

www.karinschluter.nl