“What?” I said.
I’d never met my mother-in-law. She was born in India and lived there until her passing months before I was able to meet her.
“You never told me your mother could knit.” I was surprised…but not nearly as much as when my husband disclosed the next bit of information.
“So can I,” he smiled.
You think you know someone.
I have to admit, my first two thoughts were:
That’s amazing and Should I be worried.
Okay, so I’d held onto a common stereotype, that knitting is right up there with ballet dancing, hair dressing and fashion design –occupations associated with women and those whom Arnold Schwartzenegger infamously called, “girlie men.”
There is a great history of men who knit. Most historians agree that knitting probably began with men. The thinking goes that it grew out of the knitting of fishing nets and was, for centuries, a male-only occupation.
“Knitting for Britain,” it was called. It was an act of patriotism and helped liberate Europe in more ways than one.
And who could forget Rosey Grier of the Los Angeles Rams?
Thanks to him and many others, today there are books and websites that support a growing community of openly-knitting males, such as The Manly Art of Knitting, Real Men Knit and, my favorite, Men Who Run With Wools.
Of course, the knitting traditions of many non-Western societies have always included males. It wasn’t unusual at all that my mother-in-law would teach both her daughter and son the basics.
There are probably millions of men who learned the art from their mothers, sisters or English grandfathers, but who are not secure enough to admit it.
Thank God my husband doesn’t know any better. So he went ahead and showed me, using two makeshift needles fashioned from bamboo aromatherapy diffuser reeds.
He really began to create something. And suddenly it occured to me that there was real utility to this knitting thing. And potential. Scarves! Socks! Potholders!
I was on board all the way.
But my husband is a hopeless romantic and announced that his first, and perhaps only, project would become not a potholder nor a scarf but a pair of underwear.
Yes, for me. Sweet, huh?
The only problem is that he really only knows enough to knit in a straight line. Which means they’ll be more like adult diapers. But that’s okay!
Oh, and I can’t think of anything more uncomfortable than a knitted pair of underwear. Plus, we’re talking major, major panty lines. But still.
You better believe I’m gonna wear those babies with pride.
(Once. But not in public. Are you kidding?)
Anyway, I learned a couple of things.
That each of us is a repository of hidden gifts, having less to do with how others see us than with the stories and legacies we carry with us.
And that true love is given in a state of un-self-consciousness, resulting in the beautiful and sometimes…the unusual.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go change the oil in his car, and then sodder together an aluminum pair of boxer shorts, for him.