Not far from the tree

Shhh….approach closely, for here in the knitters wildlife reserve (um, my house) we have spotted a young knitter away from the pack demonstrating remarkable spontaneous knitting action.


Careful now, don’t startle her. In this rare photograph the adolescent knitter is exhibiting “swatching” behavior, and is actually doing “math” to figure out her “gauge”. It is worth noting that not more than 6 minutes before this footage was shot, the mother of the herd was observed with that big vein on her forehead pulsing again following a completely futile attempt to get this same youngling to perform mathematics for the purposes of a high school education.


Here the cub casts on…this is incredible Bob….just incredible, so rarely do we see knitting in the wild without the parents intervening. It could be that the mother is unusually distracted at the moment, we did hear the young one call out to her about how to use DPNs, but the mother replied “Are you kidding me Megan? I’m writing a book…use your head!” The young seldom enjoy this push out of the nest, but mama was right…the cub has seen DPNs used virtually every day of her 14 years on the earth, and despite her protestations, (and the fact that she’s wearing a tee shirt that reads “I dress this way because it bothers you”) it turns out that she did indeed know how to knit circularly.


When we returned to the scene this morning, the young was no longer knitting, and we assumed the moment had passed. Imagine how delighted the camera crew was when we spotted this….


in her coat pocket.

(We did not shatter the moment by asking her what she was making. If she thought we liked it….she would stop.)

105 thoughts on “Not far from the tree

  1. Hilarious. I bet she loves you “documenting” her this way. Oh and her T-shirt is great. Where can I get one? I want to wear it for my husband. πŸ˜‰
    ~ Christina

  2. Don’t worry, we eventually get over it… I was a teenager not that long ago, and yet now I knit in public and my mother thinks its weird.
    Although I’m amazed you managed to get a photo with what looks like flash without her noticing πŸ˜‰

  3. Every mother who reads this truly feels for you. This is one of those moments when you feel your mothering has some positive benefit. (Of course, that moment is almost immediately ruined when said previously-brilliant child pulls a Goober and you wonder if the aforementioned child will ever reach adulthood alive and/or in one piece.)

  4. i look forward to more episodes of “Mutual of Omaha’s Knitting Kingdom”
    by the way, i like her t-shirt — where can i get one

  5. Remarkable! And swatching??? Totally amazing, you must have a great training program going on in Chez Harlot. I would love to know how you got the pictures of the young knitter without her knowledge (if she did know the snear on her fact would have been obvious).

  6. I want to know how the youngling can wear a t-shirt and not be cold, in what is obviously sweater weather. It can’t be THAT warm inside. (Even though I suspect you’ve caved-and actually turned on the furnace.)

  7. I want to know how the youngling can wear a t-shirt and not be cold, in what is obviously sweater weather. It can’t be THAT warm inside. (Even though I suspect you’ve caved-and actually turned on the furnace.)

  8. Do you think this works in the reverse also? If the young knit around the elders enough, can it rub off on them, or is it a “you can’t teach old dogs how to knit” sort of thing? πŸ™‚
    The reason I ask is that my mother continually declares she is “unteachable” because a million years ago (more like 20) her best friend tried to teach her how to knit and it didn’t take, so she’s given up on it altogether.
    Is it a fruitless quest? Why am I rambling incessantly today?
    Happy hunting πŸ™‚

  9. Great Post! I love the documentary style. “…but the mother replied “Are you kidding me Megan? I’m writing a book…use your head!” *snort* Give or take a few words I said the same exact thing to my son this weekend. I hope there are more episodes of the “Knitted Kingdom” to come.

  10. Swatching is now officially my new favorite form of teenage rebellion. Stick with it, Megan–you have no idea how many nonswatching adults you have just thoroughly freaked out.

  11. I wonder if it is just a matter of time before the cub steals the mother’s precious stash. You’d better guard it well, or hide it where they’d never think of looking.

  12. Too funny! So, since you’ve been doing this parenting thing longer than I have, if I want the girl to want to knit should I just leave knitting stuff around the house and keep telling her not to touch it? Or would telling her that boys think knitting is cool be a better tactic?

  13. Um, I’m sorry but Swatching? At Your house? By a product of Your genetic code? Shouldn’t you be just the teeniest bit worried about a mix up at the hospital some 14 years ago?
    (Yay Meg, by the way. Can’t wait to see what she’s making)

  14. This is indeed One of Those Rare Moments That Make All That Parenting Worthwhile. May I have one soon, before that vein leaps right out of my head and runs laps around the kitchen.

  15. That right there is proof that children do actually learn from their parents. Rarely demonstrated, but true. Your comment on the dpn’s is classic – I laughed out loud.

  16. “…so rarely do we see knitting in the wild”
    See? This is a perfect example of why you have oddles of books coming out. I really hope your herd appreciates your wit. I could totally hear you doing the hushed faux-English accent voiceover thing πŸ˜‰

  17. What I love is the t-shirt slogan combined with the fact that no one could object to the way she’s dressed. “I’m So Bad! I’m Very Very Bad! I’m Such A Rebel, I’m Tidying Up My Room and Doing My Homework Just To Throw It In Your Face!”
    xox Kay

  18. That does it. I’m Googling the shirt. I don’t care if I’m 38 and should know better.
    I’m also going to start leaving DPNs around the house more than I usually do. (Circs run the risk of ankle strangulation accusations from the other parental animal…)

  19. Hmm, I guess this proves that learning by osmosis IS indeed possible.
    When can we start laying bets on what she’s making? I suspect it’s a wristband to match the one she’s already wearing.

  20. Whatever it is, it is a cool colour! Way to go Meg! Ps: Teenagers stop doing things because of the way the words are worded…. “You know if you did it this way…”, or “Well … it’s very interesting…” sort of thing. I know cause my mom still does it and I’m not a teen anymore! hahahahaha But I know now that parents don’t mean anything by these messages.

  21. Couldn’t you have tranquilized her with some Euclan?? Then you could have sent Jim Fowler in to wrestle her to the ground so she could be tagged in the ear with a huge stitch marker/row counter tracking device. That way you could monitor her knitting in the wild without danger to yourself. Don’t get too close…the DPN specimens are particularly unruly…

  22. Love it love it love it. Trying to figure out how to make all that happen with my son, college age, while he’s recovering from knee reconstruction (bike accident); he’ll be around the house the next four months before being released back into his natural habitat.

  23. My child (age 8) was berating me yesterday for knitting for myself instead of making a sock for her. So I snarled ‘Make it yourself’. She decided that this was a good idea. We even talked about stick-with-it-ness. It may be cast on imminently.

  24. I would suggest that you submit these photos and the story to National Geographic. This is on par with their infamous “photographer waiting for lions inside the zebra carcass” story. Equally dangerous circumstances, I would think!

  25. I come to your site for a laugh or two daily and this one takes the cake! She is concentrating so hard… I’ve never swatched in my life but surely must start. Trying to wait patiently for your newest book.

  26. Crikey! Tha’s a beau’y. Let’s… get… closah.
    (But aren’t there regulations about baiting with Koigu?)

  27. Love the t-shirt and love the “wildlife” caught in action. Wish that happened at my house, but with three boys, all I get is “mom, when are you going to knit a (pair of socks, gloves, beanie, sweater – fill in the blank) for ME??” I wouldn’t get very far with “do it yourself!” I have tried, but for some reason, my boys are knitting needle-phobic! I have noticed they display their goodies readily enough however. Like the day last month when my youngest wore his mom-knit beanie, socks AND sweater to school all on the same day! My boys also volunteer me to help their female friends “do it right.”

  28. …and note that the adult female of the species will spend most of her waking hours and energy in the hunt for fiber, which she then drags home at great personal peril for the nourishment of her young…

  29. The fiber gene does mutate as it passes down the generations. My family is living proof – I am an obsessive knitter and apparently have given birth to a weaver! She can’t be bothered to knit or crochet even though she can (she is 9) but set her in front of the loom and she is good to go for hours.
    And no, I don’t let her near my stash either, although she knows where it is, and I suspect it is just a matter of time…

  30. I just came home from a movie and a restaurant. In both places I chalked up reasons No. 1,189 and 1,190 why I detest children. And now you’ve just gone and shattered that. I had a really good blog entry all ready to write, too. Excuse me, I need to leave this positive zone and regain my ire. Damn.

  31. and may she always treasure that she taught herself how to knit with dpn’s because her mom was too busy. (were it me I’d hold onto that for a good, long time – no offense to you, the mom, who, I’m sure, gives a fantastic lesson on the wonders of dpn’s.)

  32. It looks really cool – maybe you could get a stealth picture of the yarn label?? Using a night scope, perhaps?? While the cub sleeps….

  33. Love watching the cub in action! Wonderful colors on the yarn, wish I had some. Ach, I have to run, this reminds me I need to felt!

  34. I am new to your BLOG…this entry is hilarious!
    Now I will go read MUCH, MUCH more.
    Great Stuff…

  35. I can’t think of anything clever to say. But I just want to let you know that I freaked out everyone around me (yet, again) by my outburst of laughter while reading your post. To which my daughter (12) replied, “Is that YarnHarlot?”. I guess it’s pretty obvious that I’m reading your blog. Heh.

  36. Absolutely hilarious. However, having been a teenager myself at one point, I do feel some sympathy for her–imagine if YOUR mother put you on a blog available to the WHOLE WORLD and MADE FUN of your serious pursuits!!!!! I hope your daughter a) understands or b) gets a BIG reward.

  37. Extremely funny… so funny I tried to share it with my husband–unfortunately he was distracted by a computer animated giant blowing fart bubbles so he didn’t get the poignancy or the nuances–however, having been a mother trying to teach a youngling both math and knitting, I was laughing hysterically…

  38. This post is hysterical! The comments are classic, too. I tried to read the last comment to my husband thinking he’d find it as funny as I did and all he asked, was, “Did she post the link to the giant blowing the fart bubbles?” Men!

  39. Libby – Be encouraged the young knitting in front of the old will absolutely make them want to knit!
    I’ve just spent two months on a residential course and there are now at least twelve more knitters in the world (five of whom are guys!!).
    Just being around someone knitting brought on yarn-envy (we all know how powerful that is) and most importantly skill-envy, even those who could already knit insisted on being taught to use DPNs once they saw the cute baby socks I was making.
    Several of the ladies were old enough to be my mum or even my Gran but they grabbed those needles and never looked back!
    The secret is use good yarn that they want to touch, knit things that are interesting but not too complicated. I made a habit of leaving a couple of pattern books or a work in progress unattended in the lounge to lore the non-knitters in.
    I also took non-knitters when I went to buy more yarn and low and behold they felt compelled to ‘just pick up something to have a go at a scarf’ – I knew then they were hooked! :0)

  40. Wow. What a great National Geographic Moment there. I felt like I was right alongside the action.
    I too was blessed with the presence of a young knitter yesterday. Not my daughter (she can’t knit because with her constant handstands and cartwheels she could poke her eye out) but her friend, who is 8 but has been knitting since age 4. Continental.

  41. Fantastic! Soon she’ll be knitting in class, like me…mwahahaha! Another one for the dark side!

  42. Wahhh! When will my teenage she-cub pick up her needles again!?!? She wants to dye wool…..hmmmm…..idea for stocking stuffer for her! I’ve tried the feigned indifference to what she knits, everytime jumping up and down inside, saying, “Yes! She finally wants to knit! Something we can do together!” Only to have my hopes dashed within hours as the knitting gets stuffed a drawer or bag for another six months. Love that you were able to track your quarry to her coat pocket–this implies knitting outside the pride’s territory! How cool is that!?!?!

  43. Too funny. I sometimes do a Wild Kingdom narrative about my son. “As my guide and watch from the bushes, we see the young cub putting dishes in the sink without herd intervention. Extraordinary.”

  44. Marlin Perkins et al. have nothing on you. Teenagers take fright and bolt far more easily than wildebeest.
    (Wildebeestes? Wildebeesties? Wildebeestii? Whatever.)
    You oughta come to the next rodeo with me and shoot bull riding. You got the knack, babe.

  45. Great stuff! By the way, in the Crafter’s Choice
    book club listing I got yesterday, was your 2nd
    book. But since I have already ordered the 3rd (as you furiously write it), I just thought it was cool!
    When my grown up daughter turned to me in a needlepoint shop and said, “Have I ever said thank you to you for teaching me to knit, and
    quilt and do needlepoint and all the other things you taught me to do while I snarled at you? Thank you Mom!” I stood in the yarn aisle and had tears streamming down my face. She knits
    very well, has taught all the libraians at work to knit, and says she meets the best friend at
    knitting groups. MY LIFE IS COMPLETE!

  46. My sister with 2 teenage daughters has a sign hanging in her kitchen.
    “I’m smiling because you are my child.
    I’m laughing because there is nothing you can do about it.”
    That said both of them have started knitting scarves like fiends. Their mom doesn’t knit, but she’s more than happy to keep them in needles and yarn.

  47. Oh my – that is priceless!!! I have knitting “cubs” of my own, who demonstrate the same “behavior!” Again, priceless!!! Thanks πŸ˜‰

  48. Please do not adjust your set. Stay tuned for scenes from our future episode: “When animals eat their young.”

  49. Amazing wildlife capture! How did you get so close, dare I ask? Were life and limb ever at risk? What kind of camouflage did you wear? I must know!

  50. “PUT THAT KNITTING AWAY AND GO TO BED!” Love it! Yeah, I’m there with you -have a teen with a shirt “I already forgot your name” Target has them! (to answer one of the thousands of comments you get πŸ˜‰

  51. LMFAO! I must have that t-shirt (I used to have one that I wore to work on Fridays, that said, “Will not work for anything”. Drove my boss UP THE WALL.) I am also a little embarrassed to note that *I* was that teenager. MANY years ago. I hope you hold out on asking what it is, because I want to see what young knitters make in their natural habitat. (And I have heard of the controversial math-teaching that uses word problems about cutting and bagging drugs to teach math to inner-city kids, but I have never heard of anyone trying to use knitting math.)

  52. Oh. Oh. OH!
    I get it.
    Of all the brazen, shameless…
    This is simply the domestic variant of the old “Look! A baby panda!” distraction.
    Distraction from what, you ask?
    What day of the week was this posted?
    And what are Tuesdays for?
    Uh huh.
    Suckered me in, too.

  53. Amazing how the cub stood still while you photographed her. πŸ˜‰
    And school math problems suck. Math problems for things you actually want to find out are totally different. Riveting, even.

  54. I hope Bob wasn’t badly injured while making this wildlife documentary.
    And I so want one of these moments at my house.

  55. Jeepers….I thought I regularly read a blog by someone with a daughter named Megan….I really didn’t mean to steal your daughter’s name, LOL! But maybe she’ll someone get a double whammy of knitting genes, LOL. And, she was indeed, born on a snowy day. I told you not to mention snow. Now it won’t stop. That’s what we get for wanting/needing to live just a little north of the GTA!
    And man, I wish I had had a cool mother like you. Hopefully my Megan will be as cool as yours someday πŸ™‚

  56. I’m sharing your joy! how fun! but yeah, don’t say anything to her about it for heaven’s sake. I still remember my annoyance when I did something “pleasing” to my mother. Please! My 6-yr-old daughter said to me last night “let’s sit on the couch and knit tonight mom” – I just taught her. It was joy to my ears! We even put in Sound of Music. She only did two row of a little pink square but who cares!!

  57. Love it! Awesome post! Thanks for bringing a much needed laugh to my day. πŸ™‚ And the comments here are awesome too! (Rams, my cubicle buddy thinks I’m nuts cause I cracked up when I read your comment!)

  58. Wow Rams, you must be a very good friend to pull out the big guns like that. Harlot is so bus-sted!
    I love all the comments. Especially the one about Jim going in for a closer look.
    Nice work on staying out of the scene too. I merely *hope* that one day my kids will discover that sort of opening for math skills to sneak past their early alert anti-math systems.

  59. I phoned my mum tonight (it was her birthday) and we reminisced about how she used to tiptoe round the house carefully not mentioning or even appearing to notice the fact that I was knitting lest I put down the needles for ever. Now she gets knitting books for her birthday and incitement to purchase expensive (and technically unnecessary)yarns. So it was obviously worth it (and these days I ask her advice).
    I never used DPNs in my teens though, and there were plenty in the house, so you’ve scored there.

  60. You’re lucky you got away with it this time. If it happens again, you should yell out “. . . use your head! (being careful not to twist stitches.)”

  61. (whispering) I’m admiring the wrist band, did cub or pack member make it? Funny too that I was a little bothered by the short-sleeves on otherwise cute top (and girl)… is she one of those who don’t feel the cold? No, don’t ask. Leave the cub to her own devices. They are so interesting in their natural state of being.

  62. Absolutely wonderful! And, except for the venture into needlework, she could be my daughter’s twin! So cute! Perhaps I will one day have photos of my daughter working on a project just like this one! πŸ™‚

  63. Reminds me of the Garrison Keillor monologue where he’s describing a disturbed father reading his teenaged daughter’s t-shirt which says “there’s nothing harmful about sex on TV unless you fall off the set”! I laughed outloud.

  64. This is too cute, Stephanie. What a delightful memory for your daughter to carry into her adulthood and mommyhood someday.

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