By CAROLYN MILAZZO MURPHY
Clarice Yasuhara has done the impossible.
In less than an hour and with an enormous amount of patience and restraint, Clarice taught me to knit. My kids made fun of my progress and I’m slower than dirt, but I’m on my way.
I can now knit, a skill that has eluded me for 50 years. And though I’m just starting, I think it will be relaxing once (if) I get the hang of it.
Clarice was one a handful of women who attended a “Learn to Knit” program Sunday sponsored by the Connecticut chapter of NOW. The goal is to teach women to knit so they can make a “With-You Wrap” for domestic violence victims across the state.
Chapter President Cindy Boynton launched the program to show domestic violence victims that someone cares. She hopes to collect and distribute about 1,200 handmade wraps to women in shelters across the state.
The Connecticut chapter is the only one doing this project, which has drawn donations from knitters from across the country. The parameters are pretty wide: a wrap in purple featuring some combination of three different yarns, colors or stitches.
We were lucky to have Clarice at Sunday’s event at my house. Clarice is an expert knitter who has taught knitting at area yarn shops for years. Just my luck, she knew how to teach a lefty and showed me the ropes.
At one point, she even suggested videotaping her knitting so I could watch it if I got stuck. There are also lots of great tutorials on YouTube.
Cindy, who is also a longtime knitter, worked with my 17-year-old daughter Maura. Neither of us are particularly dexterous. There were mistakes, lots of them. But apparently this is normal when knitting for the first time. It’s a lot harder than it looks, particularly when you’re watching someone who seems to do it effortlessly.
As a beginner, you want to be able to go fast, but you can’t. You must focus on the basics – behind, around, through and up – or you will mess up. It feels arduous at first, and then it finally clicks. By then, you need a little break because you’re exhausted from focusing so hard.
I am not a naturally crafty person. I think I was scared off after a home economics sewing class in 8th grade when I made a pantsuit out of green corduroy (it was the ’70s) and failed to realize that the material was not lined up correctly.
The finished product featured corduroy running in different directions. My mother tried not to laugh, but it was a disaster. I had no interest in sewing or anything crafty after that, focusing instead on easier things like tennis and golf.
But knowing how to knit has always been a secret wish. I find it fascinating and a little magical how a ball of yarn can be transformed into a blanket, sweater or wrap. I’ve always envied people who knit because it seems like such a satisfying hobby, particularly for someone with busy hands like me.
Like most things in life, knitting comes easier to some people than others. I happen to fall in the latter category, but I’m willing to accept it and forge ahead anyway. As they say, the expert was once a beginner.
Julie Bartley attended Sunday’s workshop with her daughter Avery Holzworth, a sophomore at the Norwich Free Academy. Both mother and daughter described themselves as basic knitters, though their progress on their wraps was impressive.
The next session is March 19th from 7-9 p.m. at 116 Brewster Road, West Hartford.
Carolyn Milazzo Murphy is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to this blog.