My Origin Story

Knitting & Storytelling

knitting and storytelling

In my ear, knitting has always rhymed with storytelling. One scarf, one story. This is a recounting of how yarn became my muse many, many years ago.

“Nanna, tell me a story.”
“Sure, bniyti [little daughter], but aren’t you forgetting something?”

The same dialogue always preceded the didactic story passed on through oral tradition for generations. These tales belonged to Moroccan folklore, and my goal in life was to enjoy them again and again. 

Nanna, my great-aunt, was a fervent admirer of multi-tasking. For her, knitting never represented a lonely or head-bent-down experience. Her hands moved to create masterpieces while watching television, talking with friends, or reading a book. Once I witnessed her knitting with her eyes closed.

My hero, I’ll be just as skilled when I grow up, I thought (spoiler alert: I’ll never be, she was a master knitter, while I am but a decent one).

Each time, I ran to fetch my storytelling material. Ever impatient to listen to the quick stories she had in store for me, I made it back to her side as fast as my short legs allowed me, clutching my needles and my own white self-made ball of yarn against my chest.

My task while listening to the story was straightforward and didn’t change for the longest of time, for I never finished it. Making that squared table-mat remained beyond my abilities for a while, and at the end of each story I undid my broken, full of holes, and poorly shaped work. If Penelope had been as skilled a weaver as I used to be a knitter, she wouldn’t have worried about getting done before Odysseus found his way back to her. Her wait would have lasted at least a hundred years.

Sadly, our tradition -and table-mat- that I thought never-ending came to a full stop when Nanna passed. Incapable of handling the situation at first, I hid the needles like any heartbroken little girl would do, to send the hurt away. Nevertheless, the darkness stayed and stuck to my heart like its unfading shadow.

If the more I tried to forget, the sadder I was, what if I remembered? By doing that, I found peace in the beautiful memories. Which forced me to keep the beauty of creation alive.

Nanna’s legacy lives on until today. My first accomplishment was to finish the white table-mat. Building on that success, I found out that since Nanna taught me the basics, I could (re)produce as many designs as I wanted.

White knitted table-mat
My Once Upon a Time Table-Mat

Now, to call my muse, I weave my yarn, and vice versa. If I am knitting, stories fill my mind, as in a dream. For the longest time, I kept them to myself (AKA my journal). As a teen, I sometimes shared my poems or fairy-tales with my sister, but then I grew up, and went back to hiding my writings again.

Later I started teaching languages and cultures and just like this knowledge, I understood that stories must be shared and looked at from unique perspectives. I can -and should- learn from the ones who meant to learn from me. When I did, my worldview changed from two to three dimensional. Reaching behind the picture that way allowed me to admire some of the world’s hidden beauty.

Perhaps when experiencing some of the Moroccan Folktales I translated, another listener (or reader) would deduct and come to conclusions opposite to mine. So, I will post them here, in my virtual Journal, for you to read, and I hope you’ll enjoy them.

What about you? What is your muse in life?

Drop a comment and let me know, I’m always excited to hear new thoughts.

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