I joined the Happy Knitters Club quite by accident. I’d gone to visit my boyfriend (now husband) for a few days in the small town where he worked and found myself bored out of my mind while tending to our extremely fussy eight-month-old son. I knew no one and just sat around most of the time, counting the hours till he got home.
Suddenly he called to tell me a female work colleague heard I was visiting and invited me to go knitting that evening. My immediate reaction was, “No way!” I had no clue how to knit, and even less desire to learn. In fact, it had never occurred to me to want to learn how to knit. My associations with it were limited to my frail, white-haired grandmother and her elderly sister – not the look I was going for. But when I assessed my options – stay in for another evening or get out for a change – I agreed to go, somewhat reluctantly.
The Happy Knitters Club just happened to be having its inaugural meeting that night. A group of young women, ranging in age from twenty-three (yours truly – it was actually my birthday that night) to thirty, gathered in the basement of an old church – not at all the mental image I’d had! I was the only beginner, but within minutes, the group’s organizer had me knitting a green scarf, very slowly and extremely carefully. Needles and yarn are slippery characters, and knitting is downright stressful business; a single misplaced yank or slip, and all the fruits of your labours can disintegrate in front of your eyes! That is, if you don’t know what you’re doing.
While I felt fiercely proud of my half-inch-long creation by the end of the evening, I was more pleased with the conversations I’d had. Most of my fellow knitters were young mothers, which was a novel encounter for me. Living downtown Toronto, I was used to meeting mothers who were at least ten years older than me and at a much further advanced stage in life. These women, instead, were a breath of fresh air, devoid of any urban snobbishness. We talked about real stuff!
When I got home, I knitted and knitted for another couple of hours before going to sleep. Then I knitted in the car all the way to Toronto, until it got dark and I had to turn out the light. I knitted for days without stopping. It was a terrible time of year to start knitting, since my final exams were just beginning; I’m sure my marks suffered as a result of using study time for knitting! Finally I finished the year, and, as luck would have it, moved to the small town where my husband worked.
The Happy Knitters continue to meet on a weekly basis and I’m proud to say I’ve been a member since the very beginning. My knitting skills have only improved somewhat (I’ve made a few hats, one pair of mitts, mostly scarves) and the novelty has worn off, but I still enjoy the group of women.
The Club serves a greater purpose than simply teaching and encouraging people how to knit. It’s an important social outlet. We head to the local café every Thursday night and recline in the big armchairs, sipping tea and catching up on the week’s events while clicking our needles. It’s a forum for comparing child-raising experiences with fellow young mothers, because God knows we need enough support in knowing what to do! It’s a safe place to share personal difficulties, such as losing loved ones, struggling with pregnancy, dealing with work stress, airing relationship problems, and even talking about faith. Different people show up each week, but there’s a core group that’s almost always there. We’ve had old women and young women, even one man, join us over the months. Sometimes there’s only a couple of people, other times we run out of chairs and drown out the rest of the café with our laughter.
That first green scarf never reached its full potential and will continue to live out its life as a big green rectangle. It functions as an oddly-shaped potholder, since I can’t bring myself to throw it out. It acts as a reminder that you never know what sort of experiences will fall into your lap and open new doors of opportunity, if you just let them.