My Knitty Teenage Nights
When I was a teenager I volunteered to take part in a service project organized by my local church which involved knitting slippers for some of the less fortunate. I didn’t know how to knit but instructional help was promised for those with no skills like me. That instructional assistance came in the form of Gretha, an elderly Norwegian lady that lived in the neighborhood who had been knitting pretty much her whole life. She was a very patient teacher and when I didn’t finish my slippers in the allotted time at our church she offered to give me some one-on-one assistance later at her house. That one evening spent knitting and chatting in her tiny home was the beginning of a great friendship between us and many more such nights.
It may seem strange that a 14 year old would enjoy the company of a lady 60 years her senior but it’s not so strange when you consider that Gretha was kind, energetic, and nonjudgmental. I always felt welcome in her home and eager for her company. She had lived through the Nazi occupation of Norway and the tales of her life’s adventures were perpetually engrossing plus I had no difficulty relating to her tenacious stubbornness.
She taught me to not only knit like a pro but to cook some fantastic Norwegian cuisine. Unfortunately, in my adolescent stupidity, I didn’t write down any of the recipes we made together so I can only vaguely recall how to prepare them now. Why are teenagers such idiots?
Many pairs of slippers, a sweater, oodles of woven Christmas tree decorations, and countless pounds of marzipan later my family moved making it more difficult for me to see Gretha. But we kept in touch and I traveled to her house periodically for knitting sleepovers until she passed away just a year or so later.
I hadn’t knitted since Gretha’s death until a few months ago when I decided I really needed to pick it up again. After nearly two decades of no knitting the whole procedure was pretty hazy in my head but thanks to a couple classes and some muscle memory I am now on my way to being a knitter again. So far my knitting renaissance has only resulted in a couple simple scarves and a beanie but I look forward to further needle fruition.
I will always look back on my youthful nights of knitting with warmth and fondness. Thanks Gretha for changing my perspectives, improving my skills, and proving that there are no generation gaps where kindred spirits are concerned.
So many of life’s great lessons are learned just by being in the presence of great people.