The women walked inside the metro capsule and opened a small bag and when those trained fingers started creating this network of loops and knots it was like magic in front of us. The co passengers turned into an audience as everyone admired what she was doing, how dexterously her fingers seem to direct the needles to the right loop and shift the yarn to the right place. I turned and saw the look on the faces of young girls starting at the women in awe, it got me thinking ‘why don’t I see women knitting anymore?’
For sometime I presumed that women were still knitting, I just was not looking but then I tried to notice if people wore hand knitted sweaters and that confirmed the sorry fact that the art of knitting was missing from our daily lives. I have warm memories of grandmothers, mother and aunts (the ones who really loved u) knitting sweaters and socks and caps and if you were their favorite, you could have a pick for the colour or additional pompoms. The presence of branded, factory made woolen makes the act seem ridiculously time consuming but nothing coming out of a bag will ever be half as warm as the sweater that was custom made me for when I was seven and whose length was increased as I grew taller. The dark blue one with a rabbit, the green one with a duck, the black one with a smile face (that was hiding the a burn mark) and the red one which itched a bit much…
One day in office I told someone that I will go home and knit, his expression changed as if I spoke of an unnatural act “you knit?” I said yes, “You do know that people knit?” He said yes, his grandmother did and after her then no one thought of knitting for him. For the next few minutes he spoke of his grandmother and wondered if his kids (future kids, yet to be born) would feel that kind of a connection to his mother. Knitting was perhaps the simplest way to let someone know how much they meant to you, you put in your effort, time and mind in creating something unique from scratch.
I spent few hours with an elderly couple and I saw an octogenarian turn into a kid, insisting that he could roll the yarn in the ball in no time because his mother trained him to do so ever since he was a kid. His wife corrected his style and his grandkids giggled as he placed the yarn on his knees and rolled the yarn telling them, “I did this six- seven decades ago and I still remember it! In those times mother and grandmothers used to knit, we did not have the concept of ready made woolens.”
Despite my limited knowledge of the art (all I can make is a scarf) for me, the act of knitting is a strange combination of relaxation and activism, of protest and tradition. Over the years, I have thrown away many old clothes except the ones that were knitted for me. Knowing that the same scarf can be bought easily for very little money does not affect the decision because when I knit the scarf after selecting the yarn and the pattern and spend time on it, it becomes a special act of affection.