While many people learn to knit from a relative, normally a mother or grandmother, I am one of the many people who taught myself after a series of coincidences got my curiosity piqued. (I worked with another girl who knit, and then I moved across the street from a fabulous yarn store.) My own mother did not knit, and while she sewed lots of our clothes over the years, I never had the urge to learn that skill. (Until now, but that's another story.)
So it was welcome news when my mother announced a year or two ago that she planned to learn how to knit. My brother and I were supportive and offered our help, but like many people who make pronouncements about their intentions and then let them slide, nothing much came of it. Oh, she rustled up some ancient aluminum straights and some old acrylic yarn from the bowels of the house. She also visited the knitting group at the local college hoping, I think, that someone there would teach her the basics (they didn't). And last spring when my sister's friend was having a baby, she used it as an opportunity to teach herself how to knit a giant, acrylic garter-stitch blanket.
It was not until I was home over the holidays that she really revved up her engines and became serious about knitting. She wanted to make a sweater. A pullover, to be precise. We scoured the pattern listings on Ravelry: page after page of worsted-weight pullovers, but she saw one she liked on the first page and that was the one she was determined to make. The sweater that called to her was Wisteria, by Kate Gilbert. Our next stop was the LYS so she could pick out some yarn (I recommended Cascade 220 for her first sweater: sturdy, big on yardage, short on cost, and lots of colors to choose from). After sending the poor shop worker up and down the stairs to check on the quantities of her chosen colors, we were invited down to the store rooms ourselves so we could see which colors had sweater quantities, and of those, which color she liked best. We left the shop with a nice, dark green (which will help hide wonky bits), a new Addi circular, and a cable needle.
Now, by regular standards, this sweater isn't too complicated: knit in the round from the top down in one piece, and mostly stockinette except for the top and bottom cables. But it has been a huge learning curve for my mother. I don't think my brother or I were aware of just how much she didn't know. She didn't know how to purl, and was wrapping the stitches backwards. She didn't know how to do m1 increases. She didn't know how to cable. She didn't know how to knit in the round. She didn't even know how to check her own gauge! My brother and I each helped her as much as we could before we moved back to our respective states after vacation was over. The last I heard, she had ripped out her collar for the third time after various mishaps, but she is still determined to get through it somehow. I'm sure she will, but I'm sending her a Lucy Neatby DVD for her birthday next week just in case. ;-)