I sat at my Gran’s feet and watched as her knitting needles clicked and clacked. It was always a singlet for a new baby. I would watch in awe as the little garment would grow and be added to the pile in her bag. It never grew larger but it was always being added to. When someone was in need, Gran would reach into her bag with kindly hands and the toppling tall pile would become slightly smaller. We all wore them – those blessings of love – children, grandchildren, friend’s children and grandchildren.

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Image: Knitting by EmilyClaireCasey, DeviantArt

But no one seemed to hear me when I asked to learn. “Your hands are too small yet” they gently explained. I refused to accept it and made them give me yarn and knitting needles, but it was hard and I put them away. Seven, and I tried again, this time with more success. Still no-one seemed to understand the urgency I felt to learn. I taught myself without knowing how and one sunny afternoon, my dolls were soon adorned with red tank-tops and skirts. Then Mum came home…

“Well,” she said. “I guess you aren’t too small!” and gave me a beginner’s lesson in knitting. In the years following, my Gran taught me to pick up stitches and my Aunty Helen (one of those safe family friends that every child needs) helped me with the challenges of pattern reading and my first jumpers.

Since I first picked up yarn and needles, they have never been far from reach. They have seen me through loneliness, abuse, unemployment, romance, heartbreak, a failed marriage, domestic violence, health problems, getting evicted and being so poor that I don’t know how my children would have shoes and coats for winter. Yarn and needles have brought me joy – a way to give and share delight and love. My children have been invited to parties on the strength of my one-of-a-kind handknitted creations. Today, I am the President of the Handknitters Guild of South Australia.

How did I know I could survive as long as I had knitting in hand? I don’t know. It just proved to be true. Brian Weiss says that if you have truly leaned something in a previous life then you just can’t not do it in this life. Once learned, it is intrinsic to who you are. And so it is.

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