More than a Ball of Yarn
There’s a mall with a small Zellers Department Store not far from my house.Â Because I’ve frequented it often over the years, I’m quite familiar with the layout of the store and roughly what’s contained in each aisle. Several months ago, I ran into Zellers to buy a few things for the house. I rounded the corner from the aisle containingÂ pillows and blankets into the next aisle, where I expected toÂ findÂ candles, vases, and home decor. But what I saw stopped me dead in my tracks. The aisle had been transformed. From top to bottom, beginning to end, it was stockedÂ full ofÂ colorful balls of yarn.Â I stood there gawking in amazement.
Now you may not think that there’s anything particularly unusual about a yarn aisle in a department store. But I was stunned. The reason I was stunned was that the womanly art of knitting and crochetingÂ fell by the wayside a long time ago – along with the idea that the best place for a young wife and mom was in the home.
When I was a little girl, my Oma (granny) had taken me to the yarn aisle to pick out beautiful skeins for my next crochetting project.Â And although it was still possible to find yarn in craft stores, I hadn’t seen a shelfÂ Â – let alone a whole aisle full – in a department store forÂ what seemed like eons.
The feminist women-centered analysis (err… brainwashing)Â of the seventies and eighties had convincedÂ women like me that womanly crafts like knitting and crochetting were trivial, if not borderlineÂ demeaning. WeÂ were taught that women should stop doing menial things for the home and devote our attentionÂ to things of serious importance – like developing a careerÂ andÂ earning a lot of money. Â I hadn’t picked up a crochet hook in decades.
I was soÂ overwhelmed byÂ my thoughtsÂ that that I stayed there in the yarn aisle for a while, pondering the cultural significance of it all.Â I ran my fingers over the skeins, feeling the thickness and texture of the strings.Â I studied the sizes and types of hooks and needles. I thought back toÂ sitting at Oma’s feet, having her guide my clumsyÂ young hands in basic crochet stitches.Â IÂ thought of the pretty doilies she taught me toÂ crochet and the sense of pride and accomplishment whenÂ my mom displayedÂ myÂ workÂ on the living room coffee table.
I thought about theÂ relaxedÂ womanly commraderie… a grandmother sittingÂ for hours mentoring and training her young granddaughterÂ in womanly arts. Things that she had learned from her grandmother. And she, from her grandmother before her.Â I thoughtÂ about the whole concept of an older woman training a younger woman how to be a woman and how to pour herself into making a house a home.Â I thought about the admonition of Titus 2:3 for older women to teach younger women good and beautiful things.Â The sense of nostalgia that swept over me at that moment was profound. We womenÂ have lost so much.
IÂ think that many women are beginning to feel the vacuum. They’re yearning forÂ womanly things. That’s why a whole aisle of yarn has, after aÂ 25 year absence,Â suddenlyÂ re-appeared atÂ my local departmentÂ store.
Inspired, I bought a ballÂ of crochet thread and some hooks. I pulled out some old patterns I had kept stored in a box in my basement, and sat on the couch refreshing my memory on how to crochet.Â The next time I stayed with my sister-in-lawÂ and brother-in-law inÂ Houston, IÂ bought some bright pink, blue, and green skeins and large plastic hooks to teach my young niece how to crochet.Â We sat on the floor for a couple of hours as I guided herÂ inexperienced hands in how toÂ hook chains andÂ do singleÂ crochets. We laughedÂ together and worked together. When she was finished, she decorated her bed frame with bright, pretty crochetted flowers. I don’t know who was more proud.
WhatÂ took place that day was a whole lot more valuable thanÂ a day at the office. It makes me think that our foremothers were a lotÂ wiser than we gave them credit for. It is us – and notÂ them – that have been deceivedÂ by an elaborate yarn.
Â© Mary A. Kassian
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