Knitting Class

Do you remember Home Ec class? You know, sewing, cooking, domestic stuff. “Home Economics”. That’s what they called it in the early 80s. A year or two after I started high school, they started calling it “Family Studies” as if that made some kind of difference. Reminds me of how they changed the names of the Courts in Ontario the year I was called to the bar, changing it from the “Superior Court of Justice” to “Ontario Court (General Division)”. Some years later, they changed it back again. Heaven only knows how much all that cost.

I digress. I was talking about Home Ec Class.

It was Grade 9. Back then, classes were only 35 minutes long (a blessing, really, because it meant that if you were massively bored, as we often were, that you would mercifully be able to move on to the next subject in relatively short order).

In the sewing portion of the class, we were assigned a couple of different textiles projects. First, I sewed a really terrible pair of shorts out of a light blue cotton, a material that was wholly unsuited to the purpose. For my encore, I decided to knit a pair of slippers. Of course, there was the small problem that I didn’t actually know how to knit and knitting isn’t really an art that you can master in time enough to pull off an ‘A’.

My grandmother, on the other hand, was a masterful knitter and she saved my bacon by knitting that project for me. Well, she knitted the main piece. I did what I could, stitching it together into the shape of a bootie, braiding the laces and making the pom-poms. As someone with the reputation of having been a stellar student, I admit to some small shame in this act. Well, that’s a lie. I feel no shame whatsoever. Though I was a good student, I have long since cultivated a healthy suspicion of our educational institutions and the pablum they serve everyone.

And, there is this: that same Home Ec teacher was my home room supervisor. She gave me the dickens for trying to do too much. “Watch over-involvement” she wrote on my report card. I can still remember my mother rolling her eyes at this – she was used to seeing straight As and glowing comments. “Watch over-involvement” meant, I suppose, that I should have devoted myself more fully to my academic work and the art of knitting rather than being vice-president of the Keyettes, a basketball player and a member of the cross-country running team.

All these years later, I still overdo it, albeit in different ways, as a full-time mom, part-time lawyer and, inevitably, still trying to get As in, you know laundry and such. I am doing my best to recover from that. Is having a cleaning lady cheating, I wonder?

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