Knitting Memories

Another exercise from Steering the Craft. This time to write, then rewrite, the same basic scene, including transitions between the present and the past, but each time use a different Point of View and set of tenses. I find it fascinating how the voice changes, and different details become more important.

Version 1 – All past tense, third person

Rosemary settled into her favourite chair and reached for the knitting bag. She loved the start of a new project, the ideas, the choices, the anticipation.

Hauling the bulky bundle onto her lap, she dug through the balls of wool stuffed inside. Her bony, elegant fingers stroked over yarns until settling on a soft-as-a-cloud merino mix in deep, rich blue.

It was almost the exact shade of the dress she wore to Fiona’s wedding.

She’d hopped out of the shower, towelling off quickly to free up the bathroom for the others, then threw on her robe and scampered across the passage to her room. “Bathroom’s free!”

Two voices called back and a moment later, the door banged shut and the water whooshed on.

The dress was a night-time dream and she’d slipped it on before applying makeup, then preening in the mirror and imagining graciously accepting Tom’s invitation to dance. Except he’d asked Mandy instead hadn’t he. Just as well. He’d turned out to be as lazy as we was good-looking.

Rosemary glanced fondly at Michael, snoring in his chair. He may not have had Tom’s looks, but he was more than well enough and had proven to be a good husband, a good provider and, most precious of all, a good father.

She focused on the knitting, casting on. Only thirty five stitches, a scarf could only get so wide before it became awkward. She started the first row, knit-purl-knit, then three purl, three knit. Who knew why the grandkids all loved this pattern but there it was.

She’d started teaching her oldest, Kyla, how to knit when they came to visit last autumn.

They sat together on the sofa, each with needles and wool in hand. Rosemary had already cast on for both of them, no point in making life more difficult than necessary. She slowly guided Kyla through the motions until a row was done. Kyla had been scowling in concentration, fumbling her way through two more rows before making an excuse and running off.

Oh well, maybe she’d be more interested when she was older. The surprise came when young Peter plonked down beside her.

“Can I learn gramma?”

“If you like darling. Do you want to choose some wool?”

“Nah, I’ll use Kyla’s. It’s nice and she won’t use it. She only likes computer stuff.”

Peter had taken to it like a duck to water. His parents seemed amused more than anything. So different from her childhood. When her little brother had wanted to learn to sew, Dad had hauled him out to the workshop so fast his feet left the ground.

Knit three, purl three, knit-purl-knit, end the row and turn.

Version 2 – Changing tenses, first person

I ease down into my chair, old bones don’t do bouncing, and lean over to pull my yarn stash into my lap. The bag’s quite light for all its bulk and I rummage through the balls of this and that and snippets from old projects before finding the perfect yarn for Peter’s scarf.

How funny, it’s almost the exact shade of the dress I wore to Fiona’s wedding.

I’d hurried through my shower, then run across the draughty passage to my room.

“Bathroom’s free!”

I can’t remember who heard or answered, but the shower whooshed back on a couple of minutes later.

I pulled the dress from its hangar and slipped it on, nearly dislocating my shoulder trying to get the zip pulled all the way up. Then makeup and I had a little time to dream of the perfect night while I waited for the others.

“Why thank you Tom, I’d love to dance.” And I waltzed around my tiny bedroom like the romantic idiot I was. To see him walk straight to Mandy, without a glance right or left that night was crushing. At least I thought it at the time. Turned out for the best though, for me at least. Poor Mandy spent her best years working her fingers to the bone for that man.

I look across the coffee table at Michael, fast asleep in his chair, book resting on his chest. He may not have Tom’s looks, but he’s been a good husband, a good provider and, bless him, he’s the best father in the world.

I pull out my favourite needles and cast on without paying attention. When it feels about right, I pause and count stitches. Thirty five will do nicely for a warm but not too bulky scarf. I turn the needles to start the first row, knit-purl-knit, knit three, purl three. All the grandkids love this particular pattern for their scarves, call it ‘Gramma’s Special’.

I once tried to teach Kyla how to knit, I think she tried it more out of politeness than any real enthusiasm. We sat ourselves on the sofa and I walked her through the motions. She managed to get through three rows before finding an excuse to run off.

I’d been about to pack the wool and needles away when Peter had bounced down beside me, all smudges and curls and big bright eyes.

“Can I learn gramma?”

Well what grandma could say no to a question like that.

So I taught him and he turned out to be quite the master knitter. Took that wool I’d bought for Kyla and turned it into a very respectable scarf for Father’s Day. Only slightly wobbly at the edges and we managed to fix most of the dropped stitches. His parents found it adorable. So different from when I was a child. When my brother asked to learn to sew, Dad hauled him out to the workshop so fast his feet left the ground.

Knit three, purl three, knit-purl-knit, end the row and turn.

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