Thursday, January 28, 2010

Knitting is it Dying or Thriving?

I just recently moved and was pleasantly surprised to come across a scarf I started knitting, which I believed I started knitting almost two years ago now. I would not say I am skilled in the art that is knitting, but as my Grandmother would say "You have very good tension." Although I am unable to create anything other then a simple scarf with my purple number 11 knitting needles, I quite enjoy the relaxing past time that knitting creates.

I have few peers that are able to knit and the ones who do are as advanced as I appear to be. I like so many others, have learned to knit through my matrilineal heritage. My Mother who possesses the ability to knit, claims that any skill I have to create anything with wool comes from the expert hands of my Grandmother. My Grandmother can create anything with any type of string. It is something that I quite admire about her.

Fortunately for you, my ability to knit is not the subject of this post. While knitting I came to a sad thought that had me wondering if knitting is dying or thriving? For my Grandmother and her mother and her mother before that... knitting was a way of life. These women would create clothing for their entire family. Clothes that would help both women and man get through the long cold Canadian winters. My Grandma once recalled a story to me of the extreme cold temperatures of the North and having to walk for miles to get to school because they did not have cars yet. She said she owned knitted stockings that she wore under her clothing (like long underwear), to keep her little legs from freezing.

Today knitting is more of a hobby to pass the time. It is not a necessity of survival. I can jump into my car and go and purchase thermals to keep me warm. And for that matter if it is extremely cold I can jump into my preheated vehicle and drive to wherever it is I need to go. The point is... I wonder if the art of knitting is becoming a thing of the past? Will my children grow up and ask me "what is knitting?"

We will always have knitted products that one can buy for what is becoming a hefty price... but will my children know that it can be made by hand, with two needles? Or will they only hear the roar of the large knitting machinery and the visualize the technician at work when they see that beautiful sweater folded perfectly on the store shelf?

As stated previously, knitting is a skill that has been passed down through the generations. What is going to happen if this generational cycle is broken? Is it already broken? I myself would be so bold as to say that knitting is on its way out. As my Grandmother is aging, I have become quite sad that I did not make more of my opportunity to learn to create more than a scarf. I would love to knit socks and/or mitts. But I am running out of time to learn from my favorite teacher.

Whether it will be in my life time or not, I feel that I can confidently predict that knitting will become a thing of the past. Where one day there will only be a select few individuals who will possess the ability and children will watch in amazement and marvel in the archaic ability to create clothing with three simple pieces of equipment: wool, needles, and ones own two hands.

Looking at this dilemma on a larger scale... I think of many different skills that ones grandparents of my generation hold, trapping for example. Will they all eventually be lost? And does anyone really care? I myself am saddened at the thought of our historical traditions being lost. I would reach out to everyone to take the time to ask any and every question of your grandparents life, specifically the skills needed to get through daily life when everything was not so conveniently obtained as of recent times. Because it will not just be the skills that will be lost... it will be our heritage, our traditions, the things that keeps us rooted to something bigger then ourselves.

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