Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Satan's Knitting Needles

          I was going through my knitting needles the other day and I ran across this pair:

The family heirloom knitting needles. There is a hint of…brimstone…about them.

          My grandpa made this pair of needles for my grandma. When she died, I inherited them.

          Grandma was a smart, resourceful, strong woman. She also had bipolar disorder that was undiagnosed until she was in her 80s. Any interaction with her was…fraught, but I have a few happy childhood memories of knitting with her as she talked incessantly*.

           Knitting was about the only thing she and I had in common, and her mental illness made it very difficult to have a general conversation with her, so when I visited her, I tried to keep the topic to our shared interest, with mixed results. Once, when my mother and I were visiting her, I asked what she was knitting. She showed me, explained the pattern in minute detail—including how she color-coded and annotated the instructions for maximum understandability (to her only; all the colors and the arrows going every which way rendered them incomprehensible to me**), showed me where she stored the project when she wasn't working on it, gave a very long shout-out to ziplok bags for storing small knitting projects, complained at length about how the one drawback was that the needles poked holes in them (who knew), showed me all the solutions she'd come up with to work around this problem (including an extensive paean to duct tape, which she'd just discovered), and then explained that she was knitting the current project because she was unable to knit the project she actually wanted to knit because, and this is a direct quote: "Satan hides my knitting needles."

          Mom snorted, because this wasn't the first time she'd heard about Satan's penchant for hiding things from Grandma. Apparently, though, he was especially fond of hiding her knitting needles, necessitating, on her part, complicated maneuvers, decoy projects, and the occasional stern lecture directed at the old devil. Which Grandma explained to us in rather more than full detail. With color coding and arrowed annotations.
          So every time I see these charming, emotionally resonant knitting needles, my first thought is, "Oh look; Satan's knitting needles."

Satan considers where to hide the knitting needles.

*Logorrhea is one of the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
**This is a pretty accurate visual of how it felt to have a conversation with her. 


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