The Teeny Tiny Hat
This is a story about knitting, determination and human nature.
Last week I spent a day in bed sick. So I binge watched Grey’s Anatomy and knitted a Santa hat for my 1 year old Nugget.
As I effortlessly wove the yarn into form, often not looking at my hands for long stretches of time, I found myself wandering down memory lane.
Once upon a time (in 2005) I moved from Orlando to Cincinnati. It was my first time living away from my hometown, first time in a place with seasons, first time I quite a job without having another one, first time living somewhere where I knew no one.
I got a job at Michael’s Craft Store for a bit until I found my bearings.
I worked in the framing department with Kitty who was a few generations older than me. Kitty was a little rough around the edges, most of the employees avoided her and the framing department all together. But I liked her.
One day Kitty confided in me that she had tried and given up on knitting. Said she wasn’t ‘soft enough’ for it. Somehow, through the course of this conversation, I found myself essentially dared by Kitty to try my own hand at knitting.
At the time I didn’t think of myself as particularly artistic or really the sort of person who knits, definitely not ‘soft’.
It felt a little absurd and out of my nature for me to knit. But it was starting to get cold so a scarf would come in handy and (most importantly) Kitty was daring me.
So I used my store discount to buy yarn, needles and knitting for dummies.
And I did it!
I taught myself one stitch and I made lots of very beautiful scarves. I also made pot warmers, wash clothes, anything with straight lines that didn’t require a pattern.
Then I got crazy and decided to try a hat. But I couldn’t read a knitting pattern and neither, of course, could Kitty.
My first attempt at knitting a hat wound up being a doily.
I don’t know how so don’t ask.
Keep in mind this was in 2005, pre-YouTube or social media. I still had a MySpace account. So to figure out my error I’d have to learn to read and follow a pattern.
My next attempt actually looked like a hat, but it was HUGE and wouldn’t stay on a head, it just rolled up. Turns out I needed to learn a new stitch.
Luckily word of Kitty’s dare and my shenanigans in knitting had spread to other departments. My doily/not-hat was proudly in use in the break room. Another employee offered to use her lunch break to teach me a new stitch and how to ‘knit in the round’. She even gifted me with a beautiful skein of green yarn that she said would ‘stripe nicely’ (which I didn’t understand).
I followed my notes and low and behold, I made a hat!!!
The yarn DID stripe nicely, it was really fun to watch and see what design would magically show up next in the yarn and what it would do to my creation.
When it was done, it was teeny tiny. I’d made a baby hat. It seems I followed the wrong set of instructions in the pattern and being my first hat I didn’t realize.
It was so beautiful I couldn’t bring myself to pull it apart. Instead I doubled down and made a teeny tiny scarf to match. I lovingly added a pom-pom to the hat and fringe to the scarf.
These were seriously snazzy items! I showed them off (to much laughter about their size) at work.
I then made an adult sized hat followed by many many more.
Hats are now my favorite thing to make. Like I said earlier, when I’m sick I tend to pull out the knitting and make a hat.
Now I’m totally the sort of person who knits, it’s totally in my nature.
I kept the teeny hat and scarf telling myself that someday a dear friend will have a baby who will be just this size in the winter and I’ll have the BEST baby shower gift.
Years went by.
I didn’t make very many friends who were having babies. I moved. I downsized. I downsized a LOT — like everything I owned fit into a closet sort of downsizing.
Still, I couldn’t bring myself to part with the teeny tiny hat and scarf. In fact whenever I came across them in my belongings I’d marvel at how proud I was of them.
For most of my life, I didn’t see myself as a baby mom, it just wasn’t in my nature. I was more the sort of person who randomly decided to live out of my car for a year so I could see the country and make new friends. Travel and spontaneity, those were in my nature. Not parenting.
Then, in 2018 we felt a soul choose us. It was a year long process, deciding to open myself up to pregnancy, and then another 6 months to actually get pregnant.
Through the whole deliberation process, pregnancy, bringing baby Nugget home, it felt so…weird!
I just never invested time imagining life as a mom to a little kid.
Being a mom to a baby was so out of character for who I thought myself to be.
I remember the first time we took Nugget out in public and had to set up the stroller, I felt so out of my element, like I was playing house.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, our little Nugget was born at the right time of year to use the teeny tiny hat and scarf that I’ve been saving all these years.
The first time I put them on the baby I teared up. I’m still not sure exactly what emotion was behind the tears.
It feels very full circle.
I worked so hard to learn how to knit a hat. Had a few flops. It was a big deal for that past version of me to stick with, and eventually succeed at, knitting. And over time the thing that felt outside of my nature became like second nature.
Now I’m the sort of person who knits a Santa hat in a day.
It feels really comforting to have past Sunni taking care of both me and my kiddo in the present moment.
Like maybe if knitting became second nature, then motherhood can too.