A DH joins the 2014 Vogue Knitting Tour to Australia and New Zealand—and learns much more than he bargained for.
By Mitch Javidi, Ph.D.
It seems like only yesterday when my mother-in-law held my wife’s and my hands the night we got married and said, “By holding your hands tonight, I knit you together for life.”
Although I was raised among a family of knitters that went back several generations, I did not understand what she really meant. The same was true for my spouse and her family. Over the years, my spouse has knitted some beautiful pieces, but quite honestly, I never knew what knitting really meant to her and other knitters worldwide—until recently.
Nearly twelve months ago, she asked me to join her on an upcoming Vogue Knitting Tour to Australia and New Zealand. I thought she was joking. I asked if any other husbands would be attending, and she replied with a smile, “Who knows?”
The idea of traveling with a group of women knitters from different countries did not excite me at all. Think about it: How many men would do what I had committed myself to do? Nearly 90% of my close friends thought I was “nuts,” while the rest empowered me with their words of wisdom. “Be patient, take lots of books and movies with you, drink lots of wine, and always keep a smile on your face. You will live through it.”
There was not much planning required for me; the two-week trip was well planned by the tour organizers. All I needed was my computer, camera, and a positive mental attitude. Despite all of my hesitations and worries, the journey proved to be one of the most beautiful trips I had ever taken.
The twenty-seven ladies who attended the tour were kind and had many stories to share. Although different in personality, all seemed to have a common connection: the “love to knit.”
I felt like a professional photographer who was trying to document their journey and experiences. I attended their seminars, workshops, visits to manufacturing facilities and farms, lunches, and dinners. Their excitement was addictive to me. I truly became a student. Learning about the wool and yarn supply chain was very interesting to me, since I had taught and practiced Supply Chain Management in multiple industries worldwide. I was finding ways to get the ladies, wool producers, yarn manufacturers, and even Vogue Knitting Executive Editor Carla Scott to break it down to a novice like me. Although I hadn’t anticipated to, I learned a lot, and through it all I visited some of the most amazing and breathtaking places I would have never seen if I had not taken the trip.
But my “aha” moment didn’t come until the fifth day of the trip. During dinner, I asked the ladies who were sharing a table with us to give me an adjective or a word that would describe knitting to them. The results were eye opening. Everyone around the table shared a word—and much more. The one who brought it home for me came from my own spouse, who said, “Knitting is my life, and I have loved it since I started when I was twelve years old. I love it so much and I can’t wait until I start each new project, through which I share my deepest love and that of my mother.”
I had lived among knitters for over fifty years without understanding and appreciating what knitting really meant to them. I had watched my spouse for thirty years knitting without having a clue what it had truly meant to her. Like anything in our daily lives, I had taken her knitting for granted without logic, understanding, and respect. And with that “aha” moment, I finally understood what her mom told us thirty years ago. Within seconds, I fully comprehended why certain knitted gloves, scarfs, sweaters, hats, and other items are handed from one generation to another. They are not just pieces of clothing someone gives you. They are extensions of the mind; of creativity, love, family values, compassion, and a whole lot more. They carry a secret.
I grabbed my cell phone and sent this text: “Boys, dad here. Just when I thought I knew all of our family secrets, I realized tonight that I had missed a big one for thirty years. Next time your mom hands you a knitted piece, think of where the wool came from, the process it went through to become yarn, the time your mom put into finding the right yarn, the smiles, the creativity, the love, the feelings, the time, and everything she put into knitting it. Only then you will truly understand the gift you were just given! And only then, you will understand the secret of family values she has coded into it for you to embrace and pass to your children for generations.”
From these ladies I learned that knitting is a meditative way to express their love, respect, creativity, passion, sense of family, and much more through the pieces they knit. It is their way to communicate their values through generations.
Amazing how secrets can be unfolded!
Want to join the next Vogue Knitting Tour? Click here to learn more about our workshop cruise to Alaska, happening August 29 – September 5, 2015.