When I was a child, our closest neighbors were mostly retirees. Since there were no children for me to play with, I made the rounds during the summer visiting one older couple after another. Back then, so many of the women did handiwork of some sort or another.
I would sit and talk with these women as they created lovely items. There were no women in my house, including my older sister, crocheting or knitting or doing any of those activities. Most girls I knew were taught such skills by their grandmothers and mothers. I saw handiwork as a decidedly female activity that felt as foreign to me as hunting whales.
When Mrs. C taught me to knit, I felt as though I had joined a special club from which I’d been excluded for my first 12 years of life. It was, in essence, an initiation to womanhood. Or, that’s how it felt to that motherless girl.