Thursday, March 10, 2011

Crazy Knitting Aunt (That's Me)

Is this child cute enough and delicious enough for you? He's also supremely chilled out.

I'm on the East coast today, wrapping up a week of business/pleasure/chaos. On Tuesday night I gave a talk at the Korea Society in Manhattan about my latest quilting book. (Don't panic if you missed it-- KS posted a video of my entire one-hour discussion. Kind of like a TED talk, only different.)

Since my mom and 7 of my 8 siblings and their many, many children all live in South Jersey-- just a couple of hours from NYC-- I divided my time, spending most of my visit holding court at my mom's house, but dedicating one day to tromping miles and miles (and miles) around Manhattan. While my day in the big city was fun, and I did make a quick stop at PURL SOHO (where curiously I bought quilting fabric instead of yarn), hanging out with my family allows me to play a role I am most delighted playing. I am the Crazy Knitting Aunt. I love teaching as many of my 25 (or is it 26? I can't remember) nieces and nephews to knit as are interested. My most eager student is my niece, Geena, who's been knitting for several years now. Geena really gets it-- the structure, the math, the architecture of knitting and I love watching her skills improve and expand.

Baby Daniel wearing his Umbilical Cord hat in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino
Aunt Spike sporting her favorite sweater: a top-down in Manos de Uruguay

On this trip, I brought a couple of skeins of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino with me. My plan was to either knit a baby hat one of my sisters had requested or, better yet, teach that sister how to knit it herself. Let me back up and say that, since my pal Debbie Stoller first came out with Stitch 'n Bitch, I have made about 2,000 of the umbilical cord baby hats featured in that book. The hats are super simple and they knit up in a day and everyone loves them. Last fall, when my youngest sister was about to have what most likely will be the last grandbaby/nephew, I made this imminent baby an umbilical cord hat in a nice bright green Cashmerino with yellow stripes. (I like making baby stuff in anything-but-blue-or-pink.)

That hat was such a hit that one of my older sisters, Mare, asked me to make two more for her to give to friends. I got one done but not the other. I decided that teaching Mare to make these herself would've been a very cool thing to do since it was Mare who, way back in 1986, first taught me to knit. She long ago put down the needles but I figured it would all come back to her pretty quick. Instead, Geena got to me first. I showed her the yarn, explained the simple pattern, asked her if she wanted to try it-- yes, I was being a bit like Tom Sawyer and the fence painting, though I stopped short of asking Geena to pay me for the "lesson."

Well Geena's been happily working on the hat and she'll likely finish today-- finishing means she'll get her first lesson from me on I-cords. I got her a copy of Stitch 'n Bitch while I was at PURL so she can do some self-learning when I'm not around. I hope she'll keep up with the knitting for the rest of her life. I meet so many people who tell me that they learned from their grandmother or aunt. I like to imagine Geena telling her friends that her crazy Aunt Spike is responsible for creating a cheerful knitting monster.

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