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05/01/19 • 42 min

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Do you remember the first time you became a grandparent, or are you looking forward to the moment? Listen in as Emily Morgan hears from two new members of the club. This episode's theme is knitting, a metaphor for how we come close as parents, and then step away into our new role when that first grandchild arrives. Also:

--The Stretch It Takes: Knitting Together
--Passing Along Your Passions: Four Generations of Knitters (at The Black Sheep Yarn and Fiber Arts in Noblesville, Indiana)
--Grandchild Books about Knitting:
"Freddie's Blanket" by Joanna Johnson
"Phoebe's Sweater" by Joanna Johnson
"A Hat For Mrs. Goldman" by Michelle Edwards and G. Brian Karas
"Ned the Knitting Pirate" by by Diana Murray and Leslie Lammle


Meet our four generations of knitters--thanks to (clockwise from L.) Marina (Gran), Marina, Karen (Mimi), and Eleanor.

Emily mentions "Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting," by CBS-TV correspondent Lesley Stahl:

The Stretch It Takes (essay):

Knit Together

Let me just say to start that I know practically nothing about knitting. I admire it when I see it, I recognize it when I hear it happening, and I love the end result. But I am very un-crafty. Watching crafts in process often makes me think in metaphors. And so as we are discussing the beauty and wonder of grandparents and their offspring, and THEIR offspring, I can’t help but look at knitting as a new way of thinking about the whole process.

Bear with me as I try to make this work. First of all, did you know that the egg that you came from was created in your grandmother’s womb? If you want to calculate the vintage of the egg you came from, just take your mother’s date of birth and subtract about 20 weeks. Around the 20th week of gestation, a female fetus has developed a reproductive system, including 6 to 7 million eggs in her ovaries. That’s right: scientists have concluded that female babies are born with the eggs they’ll need to create not only their own children, but their children’s children.

This is significant if my knitting metaphor is going to work. Yarn is defined as “a continuous thread of twisted fiber.” Let’s ignore the twisted part for now (let’s face it, every family has its quirks). For now, let’s think about how yarn consists of strands of wool, cotton, cashmere, silk, whatever material, and these strands are inextricably bound together. Kind of like our strands of DNA...our family “string.” Each family is different just like yarn is... different weights, different textures, different thicknesses. You see where I’m going.

Introduce the needles. For my purposes and from my own experience of having daughters who are having children, the knitting needles represent for me two things: me (the empty nester) and my daughters (who are in the midst of bearing children). Each time this process happens, I stand alongside my daughter and pledge my complete support. I am there for her. She can use me in any way that works for her, but I will be there for each stitch of beautiful yarn. So, she casts on with a slip knot, leaving a long-tail for making the stitches. And the work of the needles begins.

This first row of stitching is the foundation for what is to come. There is a well-known bible verse that says “I have knit you together in your mother’s womb.” So I’m not the first to think of this metaphor. And I’m not suggesting I have anything to do with the actual creation of the family string, other than providing the egg.

But as the needles work together, crossing above and below each other, there is a wonderous rhythm that forms. For nine months, my daughter and I will be checking in with each other to monitor the progress. “How are you feeling today?” “What kind of fruit is the baby this week?” “How was your appointment?” so many questions as the knitting and inquiries continue. “Did you feel like this when you were pregnant with me?” “Should I worry about this?” she asks. We are knitting together. Over and under. Bonded in a way that is new and exciting. And all along there is a project before us. It starts with so much not knowing, but as...

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