My maternal grandparents lived downstairs in our three-story house when I was growing up. Grandpa was an Italian immigrant who came to America in his teens. He eventually made enough money to bring his mother and sister over from Italy. He was a professional tailor who ended up owning his own shop. My grandmother, also an immigrant from Italy, met him in New York when she was working as a seamstress.
One might think that having access to their genes and living in such close proximity would have made me a whiz when it comes to activities such as sewing, knitting, crocheting etc. Once I learned about genetics, I figured that I must have been “blessed” with the recessive genes in these categories, because no obvious talent ever manifested itself. As hard as they tried to teach me, my grandparents used to shake their heads in dismay when it came to my handiwork.
When I was in high school, my grandfather agreed to help me with a pair of culottes. By this time, both my mother and grandmother had passed away and he was happy that I was taking an interest in sewing. Every day after school I would spend some time with him and we worked on weekends. Before too long, my bright orange culottes were finished and I told Grandpa I was ready to tackle another project. Much to my disappointment, he told me in his rather pronounced accent,
“Andrea, I love a you very much. But I willa not sew awith you ever again. You make a me break every rule of a sewing. If a you wanta something, justa ask and I willa make ita for you. Don’ta ever aska me to sew awith you again!”
Not only was I not gifted in this area, I managed to sabotage professionals, undoing years of training and experience!
Recently, when the church bulletin announced the formation of a “learn how to knit” group, I thought twice about even considering it. But, having a daughter who always wanted to learn to knit, and feeling that I couldn’t do worse than 35 years before, I decided to give it a try.
Guess what!!! I can knit!!! Not only can I knit, but all those sessions with my grandmother decades before all started coming back to me. I’ve managed to whip out little squares faster than my coordinated 16-year-old daughter who sounds remarkably like me in my youth as I was attempting to learn. And, I’m jumping ahead of the class, looking up various stitches and variations on the internet where people demonstrate proper techniques.
What has changed? I attribute much of it to the years I’ve spent teaching my children. Homeschooling has helped me finally learn how to knit by allowing me to understand that the learning process involves periods of advancing two steps forward, one step back, three steps forward, and two steps back. And, because I am more mature, teachable, motivated, and have developed a long-term perspective, I’m having a great time finally being able to seek wool and flax, and work willingly with my hands! (Prov. 31:13).
The most tender aspect of this is that as I knit, I’m able to think and pray and recall my ancestors who loved me and took time to teach me things that were important to them. They sowed, and the ladies at church have reaped. It encourages me that those things which I’ve sowed in my children (and now grandchildren) will bear Kingdom fruit in the decades to come.
- Andrea G. Schwartz
Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family, The Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your Household, Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service, Woman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, the Chalcedon podcast, and has an active teaching schedule with women and high schooled students.. She can be reached at [email protected].