Monday, July 9, 2012

Knitting and Biscuits and Skills

The 'k' word is getting bandied about in my house as of late.

KIDS.

Let it be known, I cannot wait to be a father. I think I will make a wonderful father, partly because I cannot wait to be a father. 

During my little vacation from all things Riot, I went to West Virginia to see my family. Being there, with the 'k' word in mind, was a different kind of experience. I am becoming acutely aware of things that I want my future children to know, traditions and skills that I want to be able to hand off to the next generation. 

It's weird what becomes important when you put it in the scope of 'skills that will die out unless I save them'. Things like biscuits. I know... It's easy to buy biscuit dough or biscuit mix or even flour and other raw ingredients, but my family it's own recipe for biscuits...and I've never perfected it. I own a handwritten copy of my great grandmother's biscuit recipe, and I've never made it. I'll buy premade biscuit mix and call it a morning. I know I'm supposed to throw flour on the countertop and roll the dough onto it. I know I'm supposed to cut the dough with a wet water glass. But...I've never perfected the dough. 


And apple butter. My Granny's apple butter recipe is all but religion in my family. I have it. I've never made it. I know it takes an obscene amount of a particular kind of candy...but still...never made it. 

My mother's mother is a painter and a gardener...I'm trying to do those. At least to keep the spirit and love for those alive so that my children will be exposed to them. 

Knitting, though, is going to be my next task. My great grandmother knitted. I actually own the knitting needles she was using to start the very last thing she would ever knit before she died. She'd barely made a few rows, and the tiny corner of stitches is still attached to one of the needles, ostensibly because she thought it would just be a quick doctor's visit and not the last 6 months of her life in a hospital. I originally learned on those same needles, but they will not be used. They will retain the final yarn of my Granny and sit in honor on my shelf. I'll get new needles. 

But, it's a skill I'd like to learn...or...re-learn as it were. There aren't a lot of kids in my generation. Counting me, there are 4 blood children of my parents' generation. None of them learned any of these skills. My brother wasn't interested, and my two cousins don't see much of my grandparents. 

In some ways, learning these skills is a very selfish thing. I want to be the one to preserve this knowledge and to be able to pass it on. It makes me feel good, feel needed to my family. A family, ironically, that I never wanted much to do with growing up. It's amazing how years and life have a way of putting perspective and need and urgency and desire on things like a love of one's family. 

What special skills are prevalent in your family? What traditions do you want to take up before it's too late? Are there any skills you wished you'd learned but that family member is no longer able to teach them?

Share your answers in the comments below.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

11 comments:

  1. It's wonderful that you want to learn these skills, both for your own memories and enjoyment, and to pass the skills on to your children. I'm currently teaching my six year old twin granddaughters both to knit and to spin. It's a joy to share these skills with them and to know that we're building memories.

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  2. I think it's brilliant that you want to pass these things on to your own children. I think you'd make an excellent father, too. I have songs my mom has taught me, recipes my dad and aunt gave me, and my own skills and talents that I would love to teach my children. But first, my partner and I need to get through college. :]

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  3. I have a few skills Ive always wanted to learn from my family but life always seems to get in the way. The biggest and always on my mind is to learn enough Lithuanian to converse with my older family members and preserve the language for my children when the time comes to pass it down. Sadly when my grandparents came to this country they did everything they could to fit in, including give up speaking their native tongue. My grandmother doesnt speak it much at all but a few others in my family do. Id like to be one of them before all who speak it in my family pass.

    Great post! Enjoy your linages gifts. As you only get one.
    -SS

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  4. I think that's so sweet you are thinking about what you want to pass on to your kids!!

    I feel bad sometimes for not passing on our "family recipes" from the last few generations - because most of them involve some packaged ingredient of some sort and I am a make it from scratch girl. Green beans from a can???! Witch, please. I am taking over Thanksgiving and starting new traditions. I do want to teach my daughter to cook though, she is always in the kitchen with me. And I will say one of the most sweet and touching things ever was when my sweet, wonderful, amazing grandmother passed, my aunt gathered up all her recipes and got books printed for all of us.

    My mom did teach me how to knit, and my grandmother taught me how to meditate. That seems worth passing on.

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  5. Wow this post touched my heart right in the soft spot. I am the holder of the famed 7 Day Sauce for my family. Yes it does take 7 days to make and you only make 7 days worth so it lasts as long ag it takes to cook.
    Our family pasta recipe is a great one, it got me through college as a currency. If I needed a ride or favor a bag o homemade pasta was the usual price.

    The one tradition our family purposefully did not carry on is the speaking of Italian. We were told not to learn the language because with an accent we would never have a job. While that was true for my Nona in the 60s, I wish we had spoken more Italian in our house.

    Luckily, from my Mum I inherited a spiffy British accent and the ability to set tea for ten in wink.

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  6. Sadly, my family hasn't really carried on one of the biggest traditions we have. My late grandmother used to make the best strawberry jelly from strawberries she and my late grandfather used to grow in the strawberry patch behind their house. When they both passed, we found a stock of the jelly in their freezer; it was divided among the kids (my dad, aunts, and uncle). If they found the recipe, no one's said.

    Of course, you could just go to the store and buy a jar of Smucker's, and be done with the jelly search. But Smucker's is horrible compared to this homemade recipe.

    Maybe I should start asking about it next time my dad's side gets together.

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  7. A really great idea! My grandmother's Crab Apple Jelly recipe was lost when she died and I really am sad that I missed getting that one. I have her recipes for honey cake and raisin bread. The bread is getting more like her's was but the honey cake although it tastes the same the top isn't the same. Do keep trying once in awhile and before you know it you will have it. I think it is really important to get the stories, skills and talents at least recorded or practice it so it isn't lost.
    Alicia - formerly Witchy Godmother

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  8. My grand mother crocheted beautiful doilies and table covers. I crochet a little, nothing like she could. The other day I found a partially finished piece in a box: it's complete all but for one pineapple.I don't know if I want to size and frame it as is, or buy matching cotton and try to crochet the last segment.

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  9. I also wanted to learn to knit. I got my grandmothers knitting needles when she passed. I knew I had to learn. I joined Ravelry (an online knitting group) and watched quite a few videos on youtube. I love doing it and find it very relaxing

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  10. I can definitely relate on the having recipes that you've never tried front. A few years ago, I inherited my great-grandmother's recipe book. She couldn't cook well, but she was a phenomenal baker. So far, I've only tried one of the recipes: a peach kuchen. I *absolutely* need to try making her coffee cake recipe, which I hear is divine!

    I also had an aunt who used to crochet. She made my siblings and I blankets. Even though mine is old and falling apart, I still have it because it reminds me of her. Sadly, she died before I was old enough to learn from her, but I was fortunate that I had friends that both knit and crocheted and were willing to teach me. Now, I'm the knitter and crocheter of the family...and both of my sister's kids (as well as my sister and mother) have things that I have made for them. It's a good feeling.

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  11. My stepmother's family makes pickles! The blend of spices they use is super secret, and chances are I won't learn the recipe until I've "paid my dues" as a younger member of the family, but they are delicious and worth waiting for! One skill I wish had been passed down by my family is speaking French. My grandmother's parents were fluent, but they never taught their children so the language (and some of our family history) was lost. I only just learned this year that they even used to speak French in my family. I know I can learn French on my own, but it would have been an amazing experience to learn it from my family, and to share a piece of that culture with them.

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