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Recently, my daughter came back home with her long list of items to be bought for her next craft class. I glanced through the list and was relaxed that wool was the only thing which had to be purchased and all other things were available at home. Hence began my weekend hunt of buying wool and soon I realized that “wool” was no longer commonly available in the market. After the initial few disappointments, I ended up asking the shopkeeper “Why don’t you sell wool?” And promptly came his reply, “Who knits these days?”
His reply instantly transported me to my childhood days. My most vivid winter memory was basking in the sun having oranges and watching my grandmother knit. We had a lot of guests visiting us during winters from Darjeeling and the gifts they would bring included Kaalo dal(Black dal), chhurpi (traditional variety of cheese), gundruk (fermented leafy greens ), oranges and if they wished to get a little lavish they would bring along colourful, fluffy and warm balls of wool. These would find a special place at the top shelf of our wardrobe. Each time I would open it a few balls would come tumbling down as if inviting me to turn them into a handcrafted creation. Though I would decline their challenge and remain content with pretend playing with them as a football.
I wonder even though I fancied the art of knitting why didn’t I ever learn knitting? Perhaps what I fancied more about the art of knitting was the emotions attached to it. I was fascinated with how people could connect with each other over knitting. Knitting was an excuse for the winter afternoon chit chats among the neighbourhood aunties. I noticed how easy it was for fellow knitters on a bus to strike up a conversation. I found my grandmother resorting to knitting whenever she was sad or just happy or maybe had some time to herself or just wanted to run away from the worldly thoughts. What a beautiful companion it made – friendly and completely non-judgemental. Knitters found solace in the art.
What could make an expecting mother happier than knitting a pair of mittens through her wait for the child to arrive? What would make a more appropriate gift for a lover than a hand knitted sweater to keep him warm throughout the winter? Wouldn’t a much reluctant father make it a point not to forget the hand knitted muffler by his daughter each day before leaving for work?
With the lost art of knitting, the thoughtfulness and warmth in relationships are lost. Winter chit chats are replaced by Netflix and the need for companionship has been replaced by smartphones.
Suddenly, my smartphone buzzed with a message from a fellow mommy, “Did you manage to find yellow and orange coloured wool for the craft classes?” I wished I could extend my arms and reach out to the fluffy ball of wool stored at the top shelf of my wardrobe. I replied back to her, “They say who knits these days?”
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