Curse Knitting

by jkatejohnston

24 October 2013

Dear Max,

Curse knitting, or as Teresa calls it, the N-Word. When she called it that, I tactfully reminded her that knitting actually starts with a K and she tactfully told me that yes she knew that—that’s why it’s funny. (All witticisms directed at me must be clearly labeled JOKE.)

Anyway, Enzo’s going to flunk out of first grade because we already know he’s going to suck at knitting. (In kindergarten finger-knitting—making a yarn chain—was his worst subject.) Teresa volunteers in class on knitting days so she is learning, partly from the knitting teacher and partly from English ladies on You Tube. And she is teaching me so that I can help too. There’s some fucking rhyme that’s supposed to help. “In through the front door, dance around the back, peek through the window, out jumps jack.” I heard Teresa telling some of the other moms that when she does it, there are a few extra words in there that you can’t repeat on the playground.

Last night when she was showing me and Enzo how to cast on, she kept saying see my finger? Holding up her long skinny brown index finger and showing us how to wrap the yarn around it. And I was dying to say, “See my finger?” and hold up a different finger.

It’s not something we can blow off because the kids keep knitting all the way through 8th grade. In the younger grades I think it’s supposed to help them with fine motor skills and teach them patience. In later grades, maybe it’s just fun. Or, more likely, it’s about making something that lasts or connecting with nature or something.

But what I’m trying to get to is how completely amusing and rather endearing it is to see Teresa puzzling over her knitting. She hates doing things she’s not good at, and she’s good at some very, very difficult things. (See the three aquatint etchings at the top of this page. Those aren’t photographs and they aren’t pen-and-ink drawings. I’m not even going to go into how to make an aquatint, which I think I might be able to explain in about three typed pages if I tried very hard and got lots of help.) Anyway, her knitting is just messy and sort of irregular looking. Plus she doesn’t look the part, with her short black hair and tall lanky build and all-American-boy clothing style. (She dresses Enzo the same way.) Yesterday she and Enzo stayed after school so that he could play—their usual routine—and she worked on her knitting. And she told me that several people walking by commented on the fact that she, of all people, was knitting, and they seemed so amused.

Curse work, which is where I have to go now, so that I’m not going to get to how and why Teresa stuck a dollar bill in Enzo’s butt crack and all the talk and events leading up to that.