Grits and Purls

Spinning yarns about the grit of life

In October of last year, I sat down with two pointy sticks, a ball of yarn and experienced the terms knit and purl for the first time in my life. By Christmas I had managed to knit two hats for Christmas gifts, and now I’m hooked. Our house now contains a respectable knitting stash that would terrorize any feline. I’ve knitted back and forth, knitted in the round, and even knitted while pedaling a stationary bike in the gym.

I’ve begun to notice knitting in everything I do—from watching cartoons with my daughter to my own leisure reading. For instance there is an episode of the cartoon Little Bear that takes place on a rainy day. In it, Emily’s grandmother tells a story to entertain all of the friends while she knits a very long yellow and green scarf.

Knitting, has even made an appearance in the bedtime story routine at our house. In Good Night Moon, the “quiet old lady whispering hush”, also knits, and my daughter has pointed that out to me. “She knits like you, momma.”

Even if you grow up a little in your reading you will find knitting. Knitting is a big part of the Harry Potter series, with Harry absolutely loving the hand-knit sweater he receives from Mrs. Weasley his first Christmas at Hogwarts.

Adults who enjoy reading can savor the appearance of knitting as well. Two Dickens novels have knitting characters: A Tale of Two Cities’ Madame Defarge and her followers “knitted incessantly to still the pangs of hunger” and in Great Expectations, Estella knits as Pip declares his love for her. The main character, Mrs. Ramsay, in To the Lighthouse is a knitter, and in Wuthering Heights, the narrator knits as the tale is spun. On a more modern note, the Pulizer-Prize winning novel, The Shipping News, by Annie Proulx has at least three knitting characters.

It’s fun to find a knitting reference or gem where you least expect it. Sometimes it’s discovering someone you know is a fellow knitwit. Sometimes it’s and obscure reference to “k2tog” in a piece of fiction or mystery novel.

My husband is not as intrigued by knitting as I am, but he is a movie buff, which I am not. So when I chanced across a list of movies that had knitting references in it, I told him about it. “Really? What movies?” I skipped the references to the “chick flicks” but some of the others intrigued him.

It turns out Bette Davis knits a sock in Phone Call from a Stranger. Audrey Hepburn knits an out-of-control sweater in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Cary Grant even knits in Mister Lucky in an attempt to get the girl. In the Agatha Christie mystery Murder Ahoy, Miss Marple knits as she solves the murder. In the 2002 movie Chicago, the character Roxie Hart knits during her trial to make herself look innocent. I didn’t remember that, but my husband did. And Gromit, Wallace’s canine companion, is a knitter as well. My husband was surprised to learn that we owned the Wallace and Gromit triology.

So now as I k2p2 while we watch our Alfred Hitchcock Presents or whatever movie is playing, I know that both my husband and I will be looking for those little gems—making a game of seeing who will be first to spot the knitter on screen. Ah, the knitting life.

© 2010 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “The Knitting Life

  1. Isobel says:

    I’m going to be watching movies much more closely now. I had missed some of these knitting references. I have to see the one where Bette Davis knits a sock!

  2. Michele Arduengo says:

    Hi Isobel,

    Apparently Bette Davis knitted in several of her movies. Perhaps a “Bette Davis knits film festival” some snowy weekend is required—we could put the guys in charge of the kids.


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