Now back to knitting. It is my belief that everyone has a secret passion: maybe it’s to be a master gardener, or a fine chef, or a pianist who can play Debussy’s “La fille aux cheveux de lin” (“The girl with the Flaxen Hair.”) I wish I could knit sweaters, dresses, fancy cables patterns, and all. I have the needles, the yarn, the patterns, and the will to knit. I get tangled up trying to interpret instructions. My sister could knit. I have friends who knit. They even watch television while they knit. My Uncle Clarence’ wife could knit. She turned out suits, sweaters, and dresses that won blue ribbons and top awards.
Using the king’s language may be a lot like knitting. Especially to a writer. One of my first story attempts was grammatically correct. I was aware of coma splices and the placement of prepositions. Subjects and verbs agreed, and I relied on no apostrophes or contractions. . But people don’t speak that way, so the story sounded awkward and stilted. To reflect more realism in a story, dialogue is important, and people don’t speak in declarative sentences. They use abbreviations, slang, and sometimes constructions my Uncle Clarence would not have approved of-- (of which my Uncle Clarence would not have approved.) But even he, while sitting on the porch discussing the crops growing on both sides of his country home, would talk in a casual, relaxed but correct manner.
A person who knows grammar knows when incorrect grammar is used. My Florida friend–a Pulitzer nominated fiction writer—alas, now deceased, used to tell me, “Those who know, know.” He learned English as an adult, having been born and reared in Hungary. He spoke English better than Americans do. Anyway,so it was recently at the YMCA as I was trekking my mile, I overheard two walkers animatedly discussing a family situation. Said the one to the other, “her and I went to her house.” I wanted to tell her, it’s “She and I,” but I didn’t. Instead, I wondered how people get the nominative and the objective cases so confused? Which led me to remember a minister who intoned in the most solemn way that, “Jesus did this for you and I.” Surely he must have been taught somewhere along his seminary days that the preposition “for” takes the objective case, i.e. “Jesus did this for you and me.” But ah, who am I to correct my fellow man? Or for whom Jesus died? It’s something of a consolation to remember my Florida friend’s saying,” Those who know, know.”
And so it is with knitting, those who know how to knit, know. Where did they learn to knit so correctly and so effortlessly? Much the same way people who speak grammatically correct and effortlessly do. They learned it early and within the confines of their homes, with their friends, or perhaps because of some teacher like my Uncle Clarence.