textiles · exploration · misadventure


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pretty young woman wearing her hand-knitted alpaca cowl

A few years ago I taught my niece Lizzie to knit. She’s not obsessed to the point of absurdity like me, but she is a natural.

Her first project was a plain, knitted scarf. No potholders for Lizzie. Her second project was a cabled scarf. She used a pencil for a cable needle, and once, in desperation, toenail clippers. Her tension? Perfect. Next was a lace scarf. I showed her yarn overs, increases, and decreases, and she was off.

Then, after I’d shown her how to do a gauge swatch and described how to do Fair Isle, possibly over the phone, she figured her gauge, adjusted the math in the pattern so she’d knit the proper size, taught herself Fair Isle, and knit herself a bloody hat. Natural.

This isn't Lizzie's hat, but her's has similar colors. I found this one at

This isn’t Lizzie’s hat, but this is the pattern she used and hers has similar colors. I found this one at

She recently finished her latest project, the cowl shown here, the pictures of which made her auntie squeeeeeee out loud. So proud.

pretty young woman wearing her hand-knitted alpaca cowl

My favorite picture of Liz in the cowl. Her hair’s up, and you can really see the cowl!

And a long-strived-for pair of socks:

feet and purple merino socks!

Almost done!


I honor the tradition of passing on textile skills—knitting, crocheting, sewing, embroidery & etc.—within a family. I used to lament that I didn’t learn knitting from my grandmother, who was accomplished, so it could be a family skill, a bond. But it recently occurred to me how truly I am on the other end of that transmission of skills, the teacher instead of the taught.

One thought on “Lizzie!

  1. Love love this story, Passing on something that you enjoy to someone you love is one of the best feelings you can have.

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