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The Knitter

Posted: 10/10/07 11:16 AM ET

I don't know how it happened, but my daughter has decided to delve into some old fashioned pursuits that I never thought would hold her interest. When I was growing up, I was a tomboy. I loved to climb trees, build fortes, play soccer, baseball and tennis; if my brother was leading a brigade through the woods where they planned to set fire to a pile of leaves, I was right there, front and center, holding the bucket of water to extinguish the flames. As a result, cooking and crocheting weren't two very popular activities in my household. But somehow, right under my nose, while I confess that I'm an awful cook and can't knit to save my life, my daughter has taken it upon herself to tackle those skills instead.

She first enrolled in an afterschool cooking class and proceeded to tell her instructor that I once set fire to our oven. The teacher smiled at me, laughed and responded, "What's shared in class, stays in class." Besides, I haven't set fire to the oven once -- it's actually happened about five times -- not including the one time I created a steak inferno inside my barbecue. And this year, she's decided to give crochet class a try.

As for knitting, I never had the patience for crochet. My grandmother, however, could knit like an athlete and made dozens of blankets, gloves, sweaters -- whenever she was sitting down, Grandma was knitting. She also made hook rugs, was proficient at needlepoint and I'm sure there were other knitting projects she was into, I just didn't pay attention because I was too busy catching frogs and salamanders in our backyard. When I got older, I do remember buying a needlepoint that I planned to tackle once my cousin was born. Unfortunately, the project still hasn't been completed and now that my cousin is approaching her 17th birthday, and I don't think she's into Winnie the Pooh anymore.

Rebecca on the other hand, is a knitting machine. Her friend turned her onto it and now she's counting the days before her crochet class starts this week. Okay... that's too weird. My daughter cooks and knits like my grandma. Strange, considering she's named after her -- maybe there's actually a part of my grandmother in Becca. People have always told me she's an old soul, so you never know.

Meanwhile, at my last job, my boss used to call me "the knitter." Not because I knew anything about mastering the art of macramé, but because I was the person in our department who knit together various divisions of our company to make our publicity campaigns larger than life. If I were a man, I'd be a synergist, but instead, like Grandma Moses, I was the resident knitter. Maybe that's why I'm so averse to the whole knitting and cooking thing. While I'm taken aback by these old-fashioned references, my daughter, meanwhile, is completely jazzed about crocheting a sweater or cooking up a soufflé.

Even odder are the legions of moms that I've encountered in my neighborhood who have become obsessed with mah jong. Mah jong! I thought that game was only reserved for retirees in Boynton Beach, but my friends are starting early and joining leagues where they scream at the top of their lungs, "bam," "crack," "dragon" and finally "mah jong!" I can remember my other Grandma feverishly flipping tiles in Ft. Lauderdale and she even used my dad as a fill in so she could finish making her vegetarian chopped liver. Now, some 50 years later, there are resident Sadies and Mildreds playing their own version of the game right here in Westchester. Sure, they're enjoying their newfound passion with wine instead of prune juice, but still, mah jong to me is a retiree skill I thought I'd need to pick up in another 30 years.

Despite the explosion of technology that has kids playing for hours with Nintendo DS's, Webkinz and Club Penguin, there are still girls like my daughter and moms who are more into socializing than texting, and have embraced the things that our Grandmas used to do so well. Kibbitzing, cooking and crocheting. I guess it's not such a bad thing after all. Looks like it's time for me to shut down the computer, pull up a chair, grab some knitting needles and embrace my inner old lady.