Until I stood in front of twenty girls jonesing to learn to knit, three writhing, squalling babies, and three three-year-olds with more hands than the Hindu Goddess Kali, everything in my life appeared to have run with ease by comparison. Sure marriages failed, even a husband or two died, I experienced more than my fair share of issues raising children but in comparison with this first knitting class, all that came before seemed a breeze.
Holy moly, the cacophony of baby shrieks, coupled with the incessant demand of, “Aunt!” threatened to push my frail mind already perched on the edge of a precipice into the abyss. Add to the aforesaid chaos, children teetering about carrying needles point up. The fear the sight engendered comes as a product of the fifties with instructions emblazed on my psyche that sharp things were off limits to anyone unable to carry them point down.
The day before Moreen gathered the girls together before summoning me to discuss the new class I was to teach. Before my eyes, these worldly mothers turned into middle school students. Some acted out while others waited attention fixed for aunty to speak. It was clear to me, this diminutive firebrand next to me knew how to teach. The moment she opened her mouth she held the classes rapt attention.
As I sat next to Aunt Moreen and listened to her instruct the girls my high hopes for the burgeoning knitting class began to sag. “Attendance,” she stated, “was mandatory. Aunt Mary will keep attendance.” Oh dear, I thought, me the record keeper. No one ever said that Mary Morony is one recorder keeper extraordinary, not never! Never noted for my organizational skills the key for the knitting room recently bestowed upon me, defied my ability to locate. As far as keeping keys, my husband and I rekey houses after we sell them since whereabouts of the keys eluded us. As useful as stretching can be I verged on overstretching. Perched in front of t the girls, mulling my newest set of responsibilities I perceived the sound of an extraordinary pronouncement emanating from beside me, “…and I expect all of you to knit a sweater by the end of the class.”
At this point in the proceedings, with my mind reduced to the consistency of cold matoke, I managed to stammer. “Uh, I don’t think it will be possible …uh… for me to teach anyone how to knit uh… sweater in a …uh … uh… mon… month.” Blithering, while good at it, is not my favorite pastime especially in front of an audience. In an attempt to maintain some dignity, I pointed out the dangers associated with babies and young children playing with all aspects of knitting from needles to the plastic project bags. Since Moreen had assigned punishments for certain transgressions, I applied a few of my own toothless ones to her list.
Looking out of my bedroom door twenty minutes before the appointed time for class to start I saw girls were lined up at the door. True to form, the location of the key after finding it yesterday remained a mystery. Rather than allow myself to freak out about the eagerness of my new students, Did, I know how to teach people to knit? I looked for the key. Skidding up to the appointed classroom with the key in hand my hands shook as I attempted to unlock the door.
The enthusiasm; heady, the swarm of infants and small children; dreadful but most of all, the task ahead; daunted me. How, in Gods’ name, can I make order out this mayhem? I wondered. The only thing to do was to start and so I did.
Three weeks later I realize I was wrong, if I had had the courage of Moreen’s convictions, I’m pretty sure several sweaters would be well on their way to completion.