Knitting for Dummies, by Pam Allen, Tracy Barr, and Shannon Okey, is my lifeline! It breaks down knitting to its simplest - keeping me out of trouble when that project has presented a new challenge. It is also the perfect accompaniment and teacher in learning new skills and tricks of the trade. What would I do without it? While not every problem in life or in parenting is as easily solved as the challenges we face in knitting, through this craft, I have managed to learn a lot about myself as a human being and as a parent. I hope I can share these experiences with you, and in turn, we can spend some time together learning from each other...

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Holding Hands

I am a tactile person. I thought you should know that about me before we begin today. 

I am a tactile person.  I always thought it was because I am Hispanic... when you look at us as a culture, we're all about the hello hugs and the touching on the shoulder, but more beautifully, men and women and family members always greet each other with kisses on the cheek.  It is such the perfect opening punctuation mark (yes, in Spanish, we do have opening punctuation marks:  ¿ or ¡ for the typical ? or !) to any conversation/meeting!  However, the more I have studied my upbringing, the more I have realized that yes, perhaps it is because I'm Hispanic that I'm a tactile person, but it is also the wonderful matriarchal community in which I was raised - and to which I am highly grateful - that explains why touching is so important to me.  Between my abuelita and her sisters, and their next generation: my mom and her sister, I was always surrounded by hugs, kisses, invitations to sit on their laps, and touch!  Believe it or not, my abuelita held me in her lap even through my teenage years.  It always made me feel so loved and special!  Even today, my mom's hugs are the longest, and my tía Carlota's multiple-kisses, the most repetitively loving you'll ever find.  (I miss my abuelita - R.I.P. - and her sisters, some of them who have passed and others whom I have not seen in decades.)

There is something to be said for spending time with your children and expressing through touch how much they mean to you. 

In raising my son...

From the day Pablo was born, I have purposefully channeled all of those women who influenced whom I have become.  Since P has two dads, I guess I wanted to make sure he never missed that (often believed to be) feminine touch.  (No hate mail, please; it's just a musing...)  I tend to hug P a lot.  I tend to touch his head or his shoulder.  I love to hold his feet which are getting big and not so boyish any more (!).  I love when he reaches out in the morning for that first hug which says "good morning" and "I love you!"  I love cuddling with him to watch TV or a movie, or sit next to him while he plays a game.  And I love to hold his hand, but I melt when he reaches for my hand and chooses to hold mine, at home while at the dinner table, or more surprisingly when we are in public walking somewhere. 

To this day, I often remember a special moment when P was only a few days old.  Some of our friends - all men, P, his dad, and I (P's papa) had gone out to a restaurant for dinner.  P was in his pumpkin seat sleeping as he SELDOM did.  Next to us were a man and a woman having dinner.  From a quick conversation, we gathered that he had three boys from a previous marriage.  And even though many new parents shy away from "getting advice" from others, I welcome the piece of advice he provided.  He said, "You may want to hug him and kiss him a lot while he's this small..." I smiled.  "...because later on, he won't be so open to it..." And I nodded in understanding.  "...and he won't smell as good!"  And I busted in laughter.  (Thank you for that one, kind man.  I am still thinking about it 11 years later!)

A parenthetical thought about dating and singleitis...

Life is funny.  After an 11-year-old relationship with P's dad, a few years back, I was single again.  This time, I had a son, and life had moved alongside me.  Things weren't the same, so I had to do a little work to rediscover the evolved me.  I wanted to grow to become a better person, a better partner, and a better parent.  In my singleitis (I'll explain the word further down), I found as I dated that touch is not for everyone.  I'm not sure if it is the culture in which I live or the different meanings that touching has on people.  Often, from those I was dating, I got the idea that touch was "a little too close, a little too much, and a little too soon - regardless of time".  But rather than changing who I was (and I am, today) for these men, I sat still with the love of my friends and my family, and then found someone whose hand I love to hold and who, in turn, holds my heart...

And so, in the beginning...

I heard once that hands are the most injured part of the body.  It makes sense... both kids and adults get our hands into everything!  For many of us, they often are the first thing to get cold.  And if you like to be outdoors in the winter - like my son and I like to do - covering them is important.

Many knitters suffer from a common disease known as singleitis - the inability to finish the pair (or second one) of a two-item garment such as socks, gloves/mittens/wristlets, ear-warmers... you get the idea.  I have heard many explanations as to why this happens:

  • Once you have worked so hard on the first piece, the second one seems like an unsurmountable amount of work...
  • Once you have made so many modifications to the first piece, you can't remember how to complete the second one...
  • The work for hands and feet are often too detail-oriented...
  • It gets boring...
During my first year as a knitter, I started a thrummed mittens project just to abandon it after the first one was completed.  :(  Since then, I have refused to knit socks, and I attempted a pair of fingerless gloves for my son which turned out disasterously.  Oy!  It goes without saying that since I wanted to explore Adam & Eve in knitwear, I would have to go where I had not gone before... or in a long time...  the hands.  If the hands are the most injured part of the body, I wanted to do something for them that was simple, warm, and just me.

These mittens were knitted in the round with a ribbed cuff and a simple, knitted front and back.  What I think makes it special is the quiet cable band that runs on the outside of each mitten and through the front of the fingers.  It was interesting to conceive and play out, and thanks to the many techniques explored, I am really eager to try on variations on this theme:  e.g., try the cable band on the thumb and run it all the way through in a seamless manner, texture the palm of the mitten for added grip.

I love mittens because: (a) they use your own body heat to keep your fingers warm, (b) they bring me back to childhood when we didn't have full isolating mobility of our hands, and (c) they are great for holding hands!

So, I'm cured from my singleitis in more than one way.  I found a partner in Jon who is as tactile as I am and for that (and many other reasons) I love him.  I can knit two of the same things so I can now go back to re-try my son's fingerless gloves in the funkiest colors of green (I love his adventurous side!), and I can start knitting mittens for myself in an effort to keep my hands warm this winter while skiing, or simply walking with Jon and P holding hands!  ;)e-

Thank you to my dear friend Dave G. (a.k.a., Don Dave) for modeling these for me.  Blue is his color, so it was a wonderful experience to further explore the color with these mittens.  More ironically is the fact that Dave is a hand therapist and this irony almost went dead on all of us after we had pinpointed the yarn color, and the article he'd be modeling.  Thank you, DD!


  1. Thank you, Eric. What a wonderful piece of writing and all the thought it contains.

  2. Love your blog. You are a great writer. Peaked my interest in knitting fingerless gloves for Vida. She requested them years ago. Titi Judith from my guy Victor's Laptop.


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