REMEMBER THE TIME WHEN KNITTING WAS A PLEASURABLE winter pastime for most women. They would bask in the sun and knit away till the next domestic chore claimed attention, snatching r time to produce at least one warm garment with each passing year. All that is over. In the last ten years things have changed completely. Children refuse to be wear hand-knitted sweaters. No office goer sports those chunky pullovers which were ubiquitous till the other day. Computer designed ready-mades, and sequined skivvies are the “in” things. Meanwhile strange as it may seem, in America — the land of off-the-shelf merchandise, old world knitting is being rediscovered.
So what has made knitting so cool? Glamour girls like Julia Roberts and Monica Lewinsky have been spotted knitting away. Knitting was the only way to Lewinsky stayed sane during the grand jury hearings reports say. Americans have also found a therapeutic connection between yoga and knitting both being given equal status as stress relievers. Counting the stitches to follow intricate patterns has been compared to reciting mantras— the most popular form of meditation.
And that’s not all. Two doctors at the Brown School of Medicine observed, “Knitting can be effective with patients who suffer from irregular heartbeats, chronic pain, anxiety, mild depression and even migraine”. The number of women less than 45 years who now know how to knit, is reported to have doubled in the United States, in the last 6 years.
Whatever be the health benefits and American fads, Indian women are not likely to start knitting all over again. That era las gone for good and that is precisely why my sentimental side wallows in nostalgia as I remember the treasures that were handcrafted for me as a child. I vividly remember a scarlet jumper which my mother knit for me when we first come to Delhi — a red half-sleeved wonder with two white owls sitting on my six year old chest. More than half a century has gone by. But the memory of that garment still lives with me.
When the grand children came my mother knit an array of woolens for them each winter. Each knit and purl pattern was lovingly woven into an Aran jacket, a fishermen’s knit pullover or a Fair Isle jumper, every cable, every braid created with the same tenderness and patience only a grandmother could give. Her small hands would gently tug at the yarn winding it effortlessly around the needles till the garment was ready to be sewn up and shown off. To this day, I have preserved a few precious creations to give me an occasion to reminiscence about those happy childhood days. If I show those treasures to my children now I can predict their reaction – “Chuck it mother. It’s crap”. One day no doubt, they will be ruthlessly discarded and recycled into multi-coloured durries to be kicked around like door mats in a stranger’s house.
My mother, like countless others had already discovered the amazing mental peace and tranquility that comes from knitting. Americans are now searching for that same sense of calmness. I find peace by simply caressing the creations knitted for my children by a doting grandmother.