February 13, 2018

The year was 1978. I was 10 years old, and my sister Lynn, then in her sophomore year of high school, was assigned to create and complete a rug design using a 2’x3’ burlap grid and yarn, latch hook style. In class she had used an overhead projector to trace a pattern onto the grid in order to work on it at home.

Being the bratty youngest kid, hung up about being left out and forgotten, I despised anything around me that took the attention from me. I remember my folks complementing her endlessly about her stamina and perseverance, while I sulked in the shadows, despising that dumb rug. Lynn had chosen a rose motif and she worked painstakingly to ensure all her latches were hooked in the right direction, and that all the colors lined up perfectly with the guide she had created. She attended to every unfolding petal and curling leaf on that rose, all the while being oohed and ahhed by our parents.

Then came the day she ran out of red yarn. Our mom, who worked full time, picked up some red yarn quickly for her on the way home from the local Woolworth’s on Fullerton so the assignment, whose deadline was approaching, could be completed and turned in. To my sister’s chagrin, the red shades did not match. She finished it anyway, and the discrepancy was hard to ignore. She was terribly disappointed by it, and quietly, I grew remorseful watching her eyes scan the once lovely work, flawed by a hasty but well meaning mother’s purchase. 

The year is now 2018. One of my Christmas presents to my daughter was a latch hook kit of her own with a fox motif on it. While she is still mastering her own technique and building up her dexterity,  I have been stepping in and taking over to add some push to the progress. What began as tedious and tiresome evolved quickly as I was transported to a meditative, and what I can only describe as an ancient state of mind. Not being a very girly one to begin with, the thought of knitting or weaving or embroidery has always repelled me. But on our recent drive to and from Mammoth, seeing the little fox face emerge brought me to a surprising, arachnoid state of quiet stillness, reminding me of Lynn and that hateful rose, and I was 10 years old again—except this time, very sorry that her red yarns didn’t match. 

It may be too late, but I will ooh and ahh for her, staring at this terribly imperfect fox rug, wondering how many other opportunities for fulfillment and simplicity I had turned my nose up at over the decades.