top of page

Unraveling is OK!

A distinct memory from childhood is my mother (entrepreneur) and aunt (lawyer) sitting in the garden under a large umbrella, basking in the winter sun.

The duo weren't whiling their time between responsibilities at home and work. They were women on a mission. Each was a knitter par excellence and they produced complex sweaters for the young and old in the extended family. On winter breaks from school, I'd sit by my mom with a yarn and knitting needles struggling to emulate her. I could not approach her speed and dexterity but hours of watching her belt out row after row of intrigue left me with rudimentary knowledge of knit and purl.

Truth be told, I was a flunky in needlework class who was regularly chastised by Sr. Monica for the utter lack of talent for knitting, sewing, and embroidery. Later in life, I saw my MIL knit whenever she had time on her hands. She made intricate sweaters for the kids and for Tarun and me - all without written instructions. She left me a half knitted hat that I will finish before this winter sets in.

With a granddaughter on the way, I channeled my talented mothers.

I ordered knitting supplies and found a spot in the California sun. Spurred by a YouTube video that provided row-by-row instructions, I embarked on a coat for a 12-18 month old. At first it was an adrenaline rush. Casting stitches and following the pattern were enthralling. Then I got used to it and became monotonous and fingers hurt. I have no idea where my mothers found the reserve to knit adult sweaters! I can only be trusted with a toddler sweater.

Knitting is an engineering marvel.

Knit and purl and then yarn over, cast off or slide one, knit two together. For rows on end. When the lady in the video said, "...and now you should have 159 stitches", I froze. Who knew I'd be tested?! I counted feverishly and found the right number. Phew! From there, finishing the coat wasn't too onerous.

With each row the admiration for my mothers increased exponentially.

Without fail, Ma would spend a few hours to pursue her passion between lunch and dinner. Her relentless dedication taught me that you are in knitting for the lonnnng haul. You make the back panel, the front panels, and the sleeves and then sew it together for the end result. Alternately, you can stitch the entire thing on a circular needle and avoid the seams. My toddler coat grew like an octopus on the circular needles. Pishi would say - just do what makes sense. That third eye of hers worked superbly well whereas I am missing it entirely!

Watching a YouTube video is one thing. The reality of knitting is quite another.

It is tedious business. I produced 1 cm every two rows. That's so much like life. Raising kids involved steadfastly stacking one year on top of another. Professionally, it is about layering one client project on top of another to write a story worth paying attention to. Cooking is the same way with hours of experimenting until muscle memory kicks in.

On those brilliant afternoons from my childhood, Ma taught me the most important lesson - it's just yarn you can unravel if it goes wrong. Pishi reinforced that intuition has a central role in life. Their voices rang in my head while I knitted the toddler coat and I thought: if it turns out askew, we'll chalk it up to "Granny tried and failed". No big deal.

Like a crossword, knitting the coat kept my brain engaged, creating awareness for something it does not regularly do. YouTube is such a source of inspiration. If there's a project you've been wanting to do, I'll bet my last buck that there is a step-by-step video that teaches you how to do it. Find it and transform into our mothers who produced brilliance in the midst of their responsibilities.

Thank you Ma and Pishi for teaching me that life is about intuition and that some things are worth pursuing even if you have to unravel it. This little coat is dedicated to both of you. The hat from Pishi will add unending blessings to the little girl on her way to us.

bottom of page