I have a list of skills I’d like to learn. I don’t know if a bucket list is the greatest term to use but I can’t think of a more appropriate one at the moment. I’ve always had a curiosity of how things were done before the Walmarts and Targets of the world came to be with their bright shiny packages and wrappings. How did people do things before manufacturing came along, before clothes were mass produced by machines and soap came in a plastic bottle with pretty colors and fake smells? It wasn’t so long ago that people created basic things like soap, clothes, and beverages for themselves. There weren’t shopping malls and grocery stores. Sometimes I believe I was born in the wrong century or reborn maybe, the old skills, now almost lost, intrigue me in a way I can’t describe.
I do plenty for myself. I sew, make soap, lotion and cosmetics. I can, both boil water and pressure canning. I garden and cook most of our food from scratch including basic soft cheeses, bread and pasta. One thing that has been on list of things I’d like to do is knit. I signed up for a class. It was cancelled. The alternative class offered was a time that was impossible for me to make. I acquired a video, I bought a book, I tried to teach myself. No luck. Our friend Jocelyn tried to teach me during one Saturday night potluck but that was after two beers and I couldn’t follow along. I’d take the yarn out every now and then and try and try again. I just couldn’t get it.
Recently for some reason Katie kept bugging me to teach her to knit. She’s 5. I had to teach myself first. It really bugged me that I couldn’t do it. I wish I had taken time to learn from my grandmother when she was still alive. One day when we went to library I checked out a book, Idiot’s Guide to Knitting or something along that idea. I don’t know what finally clicked but I sat down (again!) with the needles and ball of yarn and tried. I finally got it! I was able to knit a row and then another and then another! I can not explain the feeling of finally being able to do it. It took more than a year but I can finally cross knitting off my list of things to learn. So far I’ve knitted just some little squares to practice that I gave to Katie for her babies as blankets. I knitted her and myself scarves, and I’m working on a scarf for my niece. Slowly I’m getting better. Maybe I can eventually get good enough to knit a sweater.
I still want to learn to spin fiber into yarn, grow mushrooms and make hard cheese. Spinning for some reason fascinates me. When I took Katie to Flanders Nature Center for a farm festival recently there was a woman spinning. She offered to let me try a drop spindle. If Katie had any patience to wait for me, I would have taken the woman up on her offer but I knew it wouldn’t work out just then. My Uncle Lou has a spinning wheel in his barn of antiques. I want one. Someday I hope to have a few sheep and be able to spin their fleece to yarn. I might be 98 years old, but that gives me about 50 years to work on it. Until then I’ll keep working on my bucket list and knitting scarves for now.
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