Friday, January 20, 2012

More Bad Parenting

* The woollen patch:

For the longest time, my daughter's school had been asking for a 10*10 inch patch of wool, to make a blanket for the poor as a community service project. How noble, I thought and didn't do anything about it.

After a couple of months, we got a note saying that it was nearing the last date for the project and therefore, could we please kindly send the patch. Sure, sure, I thought and didn't do anything about it.

Two days before the last date, I panicked and told Vijay that we need to give them the patch of wool.

'Cut up some sweater?' he suggested. I scoffed - that was a ridiculous idea. If we were to do something for the poor, they would benefit from an old sweater in its original shape than as dismantled to form part of a blanket.

'I will knit it!' I said. I was due to take leave and thought this would be a cakewalk. I used to knit, back when I was a child. Okay, one time when I was about twelve, I knit a scarf for a Needlework class. With my mother's help.

'Hahahahaha' said Vijay.

I politely questioned his laughing at me and he proceeded to politely question my sanity. 'Do you know how long it takes to knit a 10*10 inch patch?'

'Ohh! A couple of hours, probably!' I said carelessly.

He looked like he was going to argue but then a look of strange calm settled on his features and he said demurely 'Sure honey. Go ahead'.

When we finally went shopping that evening, I found the knitting needles and wool- nice bright red wool- fairly quickly - from two different shops. The implements and raw material turned out somewhat incompatible with each other - and with my requirements. Basically, I bought really thin wool and thin needles which later on would cause me to want to tear my hair out, because it would end up taking so terribly long to complete even one row of stitches. For the time being, I just waved them cheerfully and triumphantly at Vijay.

Only later, when I had struggled enough with youtube videos trying to learn how to get started - (''How the hell do you tie a slip knot??'', playing the video over and over and frustrating Vijay enough to finally grab the wool from me and tie the knot himself ) did it occur to me that this would perhaps take longer than a couple of hours.

Over the next two days, I was bleary eyed - almost cross-eyed - with the effort of trying to create the 10 inch by 10 inch patch. The various problems were as follows -

* I was out of touch with knitting and had no rhythm whatsoever.
* The wool and knitting needles, as mentioned before, were just too thin. It was like working with needle and thread. Almost.
* Pickle and Papad kept unravelling it while Peanut kept asking when it was going to be ready - every 5 minutes.
* I misjudged everything while making the first row -and what I thought was a 10 inch row eventually turned out to be almost two feet long. Therefore, every subsequent row took as long. Longer, as I grew more bleary eyed and cranky.
* Let's be frank. I suck at knitting.

I was doing very intricate and beautiful work for about the first four rows. Then a feeling of despair set in as I realized this was taking way too long and I wouldn't be able to finish it, and all the other interruptions started to set in. The next four rows therefore were terribly patchy - I was distracted and started to drop stitches and then try and recover, leaving some gaping holes in the middle. Then, when I took a close look at the work so far, I felt really guilty about the patchy work and so the last four rows I did were also intricate and beautiful. All in all, I put in about six hours on the patch over two days, and that's all I could do - twelve rows.

I told myself - and Vijay and Peanut - that maybe it didn't really HAVE to be a square patch and a rectangular one would do just as well. I privately imagined that the teachers would be quite horrified but perhaps the community blanket could have my little pathetic patch sewn on in one corner - almost like a label or something on which they could say 'With love from Nursery E' or something sweet like that. I convinced myself that this would be fine and that it was really ALMOST square anyway. I closed the stitches. And sat back. In horror.

I had made a patch that was not just two feet wide, but also a mere 4 inches in height. I had thought once I remove the knitting needles I would be able to stretch the patch somehow to make it look square, but there is a slight difference between 10 inches by 10 inches and 24 inches by 4 inches. To top it all, it wasn't even consistently pretty. It had that four rows right in the middle which were sure to allow cold air in during harsh winters for the poor person who got to eventually use it. It was not good. It was just...weird.

I was depressed and guilty and Vijay swayed between mocking and sympathetic. But Peanut was quite happy about the whole thing - she cheerfully snatched the finished product from me and took it to school. I asked her anxiously later what her teacher had said and she said -

''She said it's ooookayyyy'.

From the tone I could gather - Peanut is a very good mimic - that her class teacher had been disgusted but recognized that since it was not Peanut's fault but her errant mother's, some amount of damage control was necessary and thus, she had basically used her most comforting and sympathetic tone while talking to my child. Fair enough.

My children can probably use all the comfort and sympathy they get.

In my defense, I must conclude by saying that all of this will probably teach them to be strong and self-reliant individuals in the future.


P.S - also, nothing much has changed since my childhood. I STILL HATE SCHOOL.


  1. You poor darling:(
    Why are schools the way they are?
    I had nightmares about Biology practicals long after I was far far removed from school and college.
    And my needlework teacher never ever liked what I did, in school. But I did grow up to do some fairly decent tailoring. All par for the course!

  2. I can totally hear you. And believe me, you are a brave woman to get the wool and knit so much, I would have seriously cut the sweater or sent the entire thing. I mean I have also done some knitting as an 11 yo but have absolutely no idea how to begin or close the knots. What kind of generation are we turning into, who is going to do the needle work for my child when she turns 11?? I hope schools will have the good sense to scrap the course by then.

  3. Hi
    This is a new reader. I also went through the motions of buying a ball of wool and the needles and did not even start. I met the teachers and smiled and said 'i do not how to knit' and they were embarrassed! They said please do not bother. I wonder what kind of a treatment my daughter must be getting at school!

  4. I hear you! That woollen patch gave me a fair bit of grief's so much longer when it's ready! And I had to knit for my kid and another for my friend's kid...because at least I know a *little* knitting!

  5. Ha ha sorry but your sad story had me laughing! And also scared of impending parenthood, someday(yea I'm years away)! Coz I do NOT know knitting! You are really brave you even attempted to knit. hats off

  6. Hey, I went through the same thing, Is your child in Heritage, Gurgaon by any chance. My daughter studies there and also needed this 10X10 patch, I got all the needed equipment too. After seeing a few Youtube videos on how to slip the knots, I gave up and instead went down and rounded up some maids and promised some small gifts for anyone who could do it. A couple of them volunteered and voila ! I had my patch next day, and paid for it in biscuits & shampoos !!!


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