05/09/2013 05:51 pm ET Updated Jul 09, 2013

What My Mother Failed to Teach Me

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My mother was a first-class knitter. She'd see someone wearing something beautiful and head home to recreate it. No pattern was necessary; her fingers knew what to do.

Periodically, for the better part of a decade, Mom would try to teach me to knit. She'd help me cast on 25 stitches and soon, with seemingly little effort on my part, I'd have 11 stitches, or 40! I'd be frustrated, Mom would be flabbergasted. After all, if she could knit like a pro, why couldn't she teach a willing amateur?

By the time I'd reached my teens, we both agreed that I was just not destined to knit. And that was OK, because I had my mother to make me beautiful clothes, then blankets and throws for my home, and, delightedly, to knit gorgeous baby items when my daughter came along. Her craftsmanship was both masterful and heartfelt; I marveled at what Mom could do.

My mother passed away at age 56, and the hole in my life couldn't be covered up by a thousand hand-knit sweaters. As the years went by, I thought I might try knitting again. Each time, I'd laugh the thought away, remembering how inept I was back when Mom handed me her needles and some yarn. Then one day, during an especially stressful period of my life, our local school district's Adult Education brochure arrived, offering craft classes. I thought that I needed a relaxing hobby, so after contemplating taking up pottery (don't ask me why, as I really don't know), I decided that I would give knitting one last try.

That was in 2005, 17 years after my mother's passing. The teacher of the Adult Ed class (about the age my mother would have been) is now a beloved friend and role model, some of her students are still my good friends and knitting buddies all these years later, and best of all, I am an enthusiastic and proficient knitter! Each and every that time I finish up a project, I hold it close for a second and say, "See, Mom? I can knit!"

Mom couldn't teach me to knit because she wasn't a teacher. However, she did instill in me an appreciation for creation, and a sense of satisfaction upon completion. Needles were useless in my hands back then, but now, they are a connection to my mother that will never unravel. I don't need a special day to remember my mother. I just touch yarn and it's as if she is there by my side.