College Knitting

 Wikimedia Commons, Courtesy: Pearson Scott Foresman

Wikimedia Commons, Courtesy: Pearson Scott Foresman


Feeling like immigrants, we moved from New York City to Maine. After high school, I hopped a railroad train south to Smith, a women’s college. Back in the fifties most professors allowed in-class knitting. Argyle socks for boyfriends, vests for our fathers, sweaters too.

We knit in class. We knit in the dorms, we knit in the movies, in the car, and on the train. Since many of us also smoked, back when it was considered healthy—“Light up a Lucky”—knitting was another way to fiddle with our fingers.

Freshman year my father told me, “Take Chemistry. It’s the key to the future.” I hadn’t taken it in high school, but decided I could try out my first pair of argyle socks in Chemistry class,

I managed the first lab. Memorized the periodic table of elements. The classes began to move faster.

I failed the first midterm. I had to tell my father, already smarting over Smith’s tuition, that I would not be holding the key to the future. I told the professor I had better drop the course.

“It seems that Chemistry is not your subject,” she said. ‘But don’t feel too badly. I could never knit those argyle socks.”

I switched to simpler knitting patterns and graduated with a B.A. in English.


6 responses

  1. Also in my youth we had to make a lot of things our selves. In our country the shops had mostly clothes for older people. If you wanted something more modern you had to knit it or sow it yourself. Today the materials for creating clothes are more expensive than the ready made from shops and Internet. But all this can change and it is good to have skills.

    • You are right. Handwork is now more expensive than ready made. But I still find it relaxing and creative to make a few things myself. I also used to sew when younger, and made some clothes, curtains, etc. We evolve. as they say, “Different strokes for different folks.”

      • Some TV comedian, I forget who, made the comment, “Different strokes for different folks,” years ago. It means that different people have different interests.

  2. I could never really get myself into knitting Paula! I tried it after my son was born – long time ago – but I never really got past the basics! It is a shame! 😉 My hobby is painting!

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