I don’t quite remember if it was a small bedroom or a large closet, but it was in the eaves of my grandma’s old farmhouse. We called it the “dress-up closet,” and it was filled to the rafters with glamourous things: high heeled shoes, hats with veils, hoop skirts, and dresses with puff sleeves. I’m pretty sure they were real clothes, worn by real women, but that was a long time ago. I loved them, and I tried them all on.
I remember finding a stash of yarn tucked in that closet, too. My grandma pulled it out and tried to teach me how to knit, but I got bored—all that garter stitching was too much, especially when those hoop skirts were calling.
If I could have, I probably would have spent my entire life in that closet. But high school and college and boys and careers got in the way. And I sort of forgot about it.
Years later, I wanted to learn to knit so I signed up for a class at the local yarn shop. When the teacher showed us how to cast on, I looked down at my hands and was a little confused. They had gone into some kind of weird autopilot mode, casting on and garter stitching without any input from my brain. There was an ancient muscle memory buried beneath my skin and tendons. Apparently, my grandma had taught me how to knit way back in that dress-up closet.
Even though I never really get a chance to sit down and finish a knitting project with my grandma, it still feels like a thing that she and I did together. In fact, it’s almost more special, because I uncovered her education like an archeologist unearthing an ancient artifact. And now I have a new memory of a person who’s been gone for more than six years.
My grandma taught me how to knit, but she did it without my knowing. She was like a secret agent of yarn-related things.