“You don’t know how to knit European?” The flight attendant peered into my lap. Fortunately we were cruising smoothly at thirty five thousand feet. I don’t like rough air.
She asked what I was knitting. I explained that I was making ballet leg warmers for my eight-year-old granddaughter using circular needles. I loved the multi-colored yarn and the rhythmic pleasure of simply going around and around. She told me I’d go much faster if I knit European style.
My sister had tried to teach me this method a few years before. I am an “on and off again” knitter and at the time I was happy with the regular American knitting – sort of needle into the loop on the left, yarn over, needle down under the stitch and off. I found the European method awkward and was comfortable with what I was used to.
The flight attendant abandoned her trolley of drinks, leaned across my husband, and before I could object, had my knitting in her hands. She demonstrated the stitch. I tried. She showed me again. I tried again. “Keep at it,” she advised, “I’ll be back to check on you.”
To say I was a captive audience was an understatement. Drinks were served, cups collected, additional trash collected and each time she passed by Seat 7A, she stopped to assess my progress. How could I not try? The yarn now stayed on the left side and the stitch was done in one swift movement. It was strange at first. My hands fumbled, my brows furrowed, I bit my lower lip in concentration. By the time we began our descent into LaGuardia I could do it. Not fast, not smoothly, but I could knit like a European.
To be a knitter is to enter into a community – a community of kindness, where even hard-working strangers will offer to lend a helping hand. Go into any yarn store and you will leave not only with some soft delightful yarn in your hands, but likely some new friends. And all of you readers, knitters or not, would love Ann Hood’s novel, The Knitting Circle, and my particular favorite, Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting.
I now knit “European style” all the time, quickly and without thinking. It’s easy and it’s faster. My grandmother used to say it’s the little things that make the difference. In knitting and in life, I would have to agree.