I can't believe Esme has talked me into this, I thought. Knitting? Like some little old dried out lady? My god, what has my life come to? I sat there clutching my yarn as Esme went on and one about why she'd selected it.
"It's a merino/silk blend," she said, like I knew what the fuck she was talking about. "It's nice and sturdy, but soft. You want to start out with something that feels good in your hands, or you'll be miserable."
Miserable. You mean like sitting here bored shitless while your mother teaches you to fucking knit??? Maybe she'll teach me to make doilies. I fought back a snicker.
"Look, I know you have your doubts, but could you please wipe that smirk off your face? It's really beginning to piss me off a bit. I enjoy this. Does that make me some simple-minded old maid? And really, Rose, what do you do all day but gaze at your own reflection? At least I have something to show at the end of the day."
She did look pissed. I'd never seen that look on her face before.
Esme took a deep breath and tried to calm herself. "Look, I just think if you had something to do instead of sitting around moping about how miserable your existence is, maybe you'd be a little more pleasant for the rest of us to be around, okay?"
"Fine," I said. "But I'm really fine with being considered a bitch."
"I know that, dear. But the rest of us get a little tired of the constant streams of snark that come from your mouth, okay? Now, here's your choice: learn to knit or I knit you a ball gag." Esme really looked pretty serious.
"Okay," I said. I didn't want to piss her off any more. I probably shouldn't have called Carlisle beige and bland that morning. That was probably the why she was so pissed at me. I probably should've apologized, but I didn't want to bring it up.
"I know you don't like clothes as much as Alice, but this is a good way to make some clothes that you really like that fit you really well, too. You might like this. Please, just please, give this a chance, Rosalie. Psychoactive drugs don't work on our systems, so Valium is out. And if your relationship with Emmett hasn't mellowed you by now, I think maybe physical outlets don't work as well for you as they do the rest of us. Not that Emmett hasn't tried…"
"Ewwwww, Esme. Really? You're going to suggest maybe I need to get laid?"
"Actually, I just said that clearly that didn't work for you, Rose. Please listen."
"And what are you suggesting about my clothes? You don't think they fit me well enough?"
"Oh. My. God. I'm not suggesting anything other than that when you make your clothes, you can make them fit your body, Rosalie. This is actually a good example of the kind of behavior we want to avoid, okay?" Esme's voice sounded pinched. She was starting to rub her temples.
"Fine." The temple thing was a sure sign that Esme was about to crack. And if Esme cracked, then here would come Carlisle and Edward, and God, did I not feel like talking to either of them. Their whining really got on my last nerve. Just because they both picked sweetsie little girls doesn't mean we have to ALL be that way. I loved Esme a great deal, but Bella fucking killed me. You'd think Edward shit gold and pissed chocolate the way she fawned and panted. He had her begging for it. Damned if I'd ever beg for anything from anybody. Unless you're talking that game that Emmett and I play sometimes, where he's the cowboy and I'm the helpless little woman what done inherited a farm. By the time we get to the bit with the lasso, I'm usually begging pretty good.
I became aware that Esme had moved on in the lesson, and I was still thinking about Emmett naked except for chaps. Shit, I thought.
"Um, sorry, could you say that again?" I asked, trying to sound…timid, I guess. She glared at me, eyebrows drawn in tight over angry eyes. "I was thinking about something else, sorry."
"I said, make your fingers into a gun." Esme was snapping. I didn't know she could do that.
"A gun? Why?"
"Because I'm freaking showing you how to do a freaking long-tail cast on, and if you don't start listening, I swear I'll knit a garrote and choke the life out of you."
"Geez, Esme, okay." Wow, I was really bringing out the violence in her today. Kind of like when Emmett and I play that game where he's the dugeonmaster…shit, focus!
I made my fingers into a gun. "Like this?" I asked.
"Yep, just right. Now, take the end of your yarn and pull out about 12 inches or so. You're going to make a slip knot. Like this." Her hands moved in a blur, and suddenly the yarn was tied to her needle.
"What the hell did you just do?" I was seriously confused.
"Sorry…been doing this a long time. Let me slow it down for you." She looped the yarn and then pulled another loop up in the middle with her needle. "Why don't you try?"
I picked up the long, sharp needle, pulled a bit of yarn from the ball and attempted the same motion I'd just seen Esme do. I wondered for a moment if she'd picked beige to make me feel a little bad about what I'd said about Carlisle, then realized she probably picked beige for everything. I bet her do-me underwear is beige.
I imitated Esme's motions, once, twice, three times. I was getting seriously pissed off when I heard a screech, and looked at the needle in my hand. It was bent nearly double.
"Okay, I figured that might happen. I have a couple dozen sets for you, mostly metal, but some wood for later, when you're less likely to snap it. Just get out another needle from the bag. And watch me make the knot again." I pulled out another needle from Esme's knitting bag. She made another knot, so slowly this time I thought she might be suggesting that I was retarded.
Fifteen minutes later, my needle was still straight(ish) and I still didn't have a freaking knot on the damn thing.
"Okayyouknowwhat? Just let me do that bit." Esme didn't sound very patient. I handed the needle over to her and she handed it back almost immediately with a knot on it. "We can just focus on that later. Let's move on. Make the gun hand again."
I put my forefinger and thumb into a gun shape. It reminded me of when I played the bank robber and Emmett played the local sheriff. Dammit, focus! I thought to myself.
"Left hand, Rosalie." She sighed. Well, damn, she hadn't said what hand to use. I switched them, but couldn't resist rolling my eyes. Damn, did she just growl at me?
"Okay, now you have two ends of the yarn, right?" I looked to check.
"Yep, two ends."
"One's attached to the ball and one's free, right?"
"Yep, one attached, one free."
"Now take your thumb and forefinger…no, you have to be holding the needle with the yarn on it in your right hand. AreyouevenwatchingwhatI'mdoing?"
Actually, I was just mentally giggling because she said ball. I wasn't going to mention it.
"Sorry." I picked up the needle.
"Now, take your thumb and forefinger and part the little curtain." Great, now I'm a retarded six-year old. Condescend much, Esme? But I didn't say any of it out loud. Figured I didn't have any ground to talk when I couldn't even make that slipknot thingie. I parted the widdle curtain wif my fingers.
"Now, tilt your hand so that thumb and forefinger are pointing at the ceiling." She demonstrated. I copied her actions. "Now, put the needle through this loop, and catch your short end and pull it through. You won't get it on the first try, and that's okay, just do your best." She took a deep breath, probably steeling herself for the fucking mess she knew was coming. I figured I'd make a total fucking rat's nest out of it, but I actually did it right. There was a little loop right next to the frustrating knot. I stared at it for a moment, thinking I might be hallucinating, but I was still there even after I blinked for a time or two…Emmett naked but for chaps, little loop, Emmett naked but for chaps, little loop. What the fuck! I actually did something right.
"Good!" Esme sounded surprised. A little too surprised. I mean, it was one thing for me to be surprised, but damn, she didn't have to sound that way. She was my mother, for the love of Pete: she was supposed to think I could do it.
"Thanks for the tone of surprise," I said.
"Um, no offense, Rose, but you couldn't do the slipknot. I think the surprise is warranted." Okay, fine, so she had a point. "Next, you're just going to do the same motion again and again until you have on the number of stitches you need. I think for this, we'll do about 25, okay? Now, watch." She rocked her hand back and forth a few times, and suddenly she had about seven little loops all lined up neat. "You don't want them too tight, so don't pull them snug, okay? You try."
I copied the rocking motion a few times, and looked closely. I had four little loops, all different sizes. "Should it look like that?"
"Not really, but for a first time, I wouldn't worry about it. A little practice, and that will clear up. Just keep going until you have 25 stitches on, okay?"
"Okay." One, two, three, four. Five, Emmett naked in the jeep, six, Emmett doing that bit with his tongue…shit, where was I? One, two, three, four, five, six. Six. Okay, seven, Emmett in the shower, eight, Emmett in a tux, nine, Emmett's hands on my…Dammit! Okay, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. Maybe I should think about something else, something not all that pleasant. Bella! She's the opposite of Emmett. Okay, ten, Bella's sappy face when she looked at Edward, eleven, Bella's whiny voice, twelve, Bella's smell when she'd been around that Jacob punk. God, I hate Jacob. He stinks, and I don't know why we let him into the house. And we feed him. Damn! I mean, Edward's not my favorite, either, but Jacob was making a play for Bella, and you'd totally think that Esme or Carlisle wouldn't want him in the house…
"Um, Rose? You're not diffusing a bomb. Let up a little."
I held up the needle in front of my hands. Great. Indentations where my fingers had been. Clearly, Jacob Black was not what I needed to be thinking of.
"That's okay," Esme said. "Everyone's a little tense when they start. I'll just transfer these stitches over to another needle." Her hands blurred, and then handed me my work back, all transferred over to another needle. "Your stitches are getting a little tight. Just concentrate on relaxing." Yeah, cause that'll work. Work hard at this being easy.
Okay, how many did I have again? 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, 11, 12…Okay. Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, I mean damn, we let that asshole in the house, and look what happens with Renesmee…he's like a freakin' child molester. I mean, sniffing around an infant? That's just sick, and if either Bella or Edward had half a brain, they'd have ripped him snout to asshole…great, more screeching. Yep, bent another needle.
Esme sighed some more. "Okay, I'll transfer those stitches over." She pulled out another needle. "These last three stitches are on there so tight I can barely move them. What are you thinking about?" She sounded frustrated again. "You know what, let's put on some music. Maybe that will help." She went over to the stereo and pressed play. Immediately, loud rap music spilled out. "WHAT? MY NAME IS WHAT? MY NAME IS…." Ah, my monkey man did like the classics. "Oh, good lord," Esme said. "Emmett!"
I heard Emmett laughing upstairs. "Come on, mom, you know you like it!"
Esme laughed. She just couldn't help herself where Emmett was concerned. I could hear Edward bitching upstairs, "Honestly, Emmett, there's a child in this house. Please tell me you aren't listening to that filth when she's around."
"Stop your whining, pusswhack. You've got your own damn house. Why you always hanging around here, huh? Can't quite cut the apron strings?"
I tried to stifle the snicker, but Esme caught it. "Honestly, I swear you two just encourage each other. I don't know if you're a perfect match or a freaking nightmare." She cycled through the CDs until she found one she thought was suitable. Great. One of Edward's. Debussy. God, he wore this shit out. I'm sure it was related to Bella somehow. Damn, I bet they have the biggest white bread sex life EVER! Let me bang you in the missionary position while we listen to Claire de Lune. Puke.
"Why don't you try to relax for a moment?" Great, there she goes tugging at her temples again.
I tried to look repentant, but my face seemed to reject the expression at a biological level. I took a moment to try to clear my brain. Okay, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15…Okay, just ten more. 16, 17, 18, 19, 20…You just know that there's some serious cleansing ritual that goes on before Edward was willing to fuck his beloved Bella. It probably involved rubbing alcohol, Comet, and a toothbrush. Fifteen brushstrokes clockwise, fifteen counterclockwise… 21, 22, 23, 24, 25. There. 25 freakin' stitches. Boy, I'm relaxed.
"Okay, we're done with the cast on. I usually knit continental style, but since you need to take your time, I'm teaching you English. That means you're going to hold your working yarn in your right hand…no, no the end going to the ball. That's right. Now, all you do is stick in your right needle into the stitch from front to back, like this. See?"
I tried it. "Like this?"
"Right…in through the front door…now around the back," she continued, wrapping the yarn around the needle. "And peek through the window." She pulled the yarn forward somehow…why they want you to hook something with a freakin' straight stick is beyond me.
"How the hell do you bring that forward without it slipping off the needle?" I asked as the yarn slipped off the needle.
"Sometimes it helps to press your finger against the tip of the needle while you're bringing it forward. And if you hold your working thread with some good tension, then it's less likely to slip off."
I put the needle in the front, wrapped the yarn around again, placed my finger on the end and pulled the yarn forward, only to find that the needle would no longer go through the loop.
"What the fuck?" I looked down at my work and realized that the sharp point had disappeared completely. I'd pressed it flat, back into the needle, making a little mushroom shape where there used to have been a sharp point. "Great."
Esme took the needle from me, looking at the tip with alarm, then sighed deeply. She wiggled the end of the needle back and forth a few times, until it snapped. Then she transferred the stitches over to yet another new needle. "Okay, let me rephrase. Place your finger gently against the tip. Don't press."
"Fine." I took it back. Okay, so I snatched it a little. But this shit was really frustrating.
"In through the front door…"
"Esme, I got it, okay?"
"All right, all right…"
In through the front door, around the back, peek through the window…I actually got the loop to come through. "Hey! I got it!"
"Good, job, Rose. Now the final step is off jumps jack." She slipped the old stitch off the left needle.
"Now it looks like in the pictures," I said. "All connected."
"Yes. And to keep going, you just do those steps over and over. Let's see if you can make it to the end of the row."
"Okay." In through the front door, around the back…yes! Peek through the window, off jumps Jack! "I did it again!" I was really proud, but I couldn't help but notice that Esme had, like, 10 rows of knitting on her needles.
"Now, don't compare yourself to mom," I heard from behind the couch. I turned. Great. An audience. Edward. "She's been doing this for a long time." He bent to kiss her cheek. Suck up.
"Don't you have some scrapbooking to do?" I hissed at him. He'd been into arts and crafts as long as I'd known him, at least up until he started getting his knob polished. Yeah, who am I kidding? You know he'd never let Bella do that.
His little smirk let me know that he'd heard me. "Weren't you going to teach Bella how to knit? I could run to the cottage and bring her back for the lesson, that way you wouldn't have to do it twice." He smirked at me from behind Esme. He knew that the only thing worse than having my brothers see me be bad at something would be to let Bella be better at me than something. And I was sure she would be…she was all warm and soft…knitting would be right up her alley.
"Look down, Rosalie. You've been knitting without even knowing what you were doing. You're are the end of the row."
And she was right. I'd been knitting the whole time Edward was annoying me.
"What do I do now?" I asked.
"Well, you take hold of the needle with the knitting on it in your left hand and you start all over again. Just keep knitting, and it will make what's called garter stitch."
I heard Emmett snicker, and I smiled. He was laughing at the word "garter." It probably reminded him of that little outfit I wore when we were in…
"I think I'll be going now," Edward said. He looked a little grossed out. I smirked and thought, I wonder if he knows that I helped Alice pick out the honeymoon lingerie…I put a little black number in there just like one Emmett and I had left hanging from a ceiling fan in New Orleans. He turned a little pale. Oh, look, he knows now.
He rushed out of the room. Thank God, I thought. Now maybe he'd be gone for the rest of the day, hunkered down with his little family.
"Do you think we could change the music? Debussy's not really my thing."
Esme frowned a little. "That's fine, just something relaxing please. Nothing like that M and M that was on earlier."
"Um, I think you mean Eminem."
"Whatever," she said.
I flipped through a stack of my CDs beside the stereo. I doubted that Esme would find the same things relaxing as I did. I liked to veg out to old riot grrrls albums…Bikini Kill, L7, Seven Year Bitch, that was more my thing. Shit, I thought. Maybe Edward has something freakin' tolerable in here. Mmmm, Iron and Wine. That might do. I put it in the player and fired it up.
I picked up my knitting, thinking, God, I can't believe I just picked up my knitting, and got back to it. It was kinda relaxing, and if Bella was going to start, I damn well wanted to be better at it than she was. She's always better than me: nicer, able to bear a child…even Carlisle and Esme, my parents, seem to like her better. She even got all this freaking credit for being such a calm newborn. What the fuck? I managed to murder six guys without spilling their blood and without feeding on them when I was a vampire for, what was it? Less than a month? But do I get credit for being all controlled and shit? No, because I wasn't syrupy sweet when I did it, all Madonna and child sitting by the window.
Shit, I was getting worked up again. I was knitting much faster; I'd had to switch hands eight or nine times already. I took a deep breath. Why did I let her bother me so much? Because she's everything you're not, a little voice screamed at me. Yes, that's true, but I'm everything she's not, too, dammit. Why doesn't anybody value that shit?
"Rose? I think you're heading for some trouble." Esme was looking curiously at my knitting.
"Fuck, what's wrong?" I asked, looking down at it. "Why's it all fuzzy like that? Why can't you see the stitches anymore?"
"I…I think you've felted it. You're going too fast."
"What the fuck does that mean?"
"Well, animal fibers will felt…it means that the little fibers cling together and make a mat. Sometimes that's nice, but you usually do it after you're finished. Human knitters do, anyway." She was clearly trying very hard not to laugh.
"I think you're probably going to have to start over." She reached over with her scissors and cut the end of my knitting away from the ball. "I'll keep this, though. It'll make a good coaster. Just pull that off of there."
It took a lot of effort, but I pulled the knitting off and handed the little rectangle to her. She tucked it in her knitting bag. I sighed. "Would you do the slip knot for me again? I don't think I even want to try right now."
"Sure," she said, and quickly tied a loop onto my needle. "You know, the good news is that if you went fast enough to felt it that means that you're getting the hang of it."
"I guess," I mumbled. I worked the cast on again, this time getting less distracted, although I did think that after the end of this day, I was going to need some serious Emmett time to relax from my oh-so-relaxing hobby. I worked for a while in silence. I'd made a decent sized square by the time Esme and I felt the need to talk.
"Can I see?" Esme said quietly.
"Sure…here." I handed it over. I had to admit, it was coming a little more easily to me now.
"You're doing very well. I thought you'd do well at this. That's why I started teaching you, and not Bella."
"I thought it was to keep me from being so bitchy," I said, happier at the thought that she'd chosen to spend time with me instead of Bella.
"Well, that was part of it, and I think it will probably have that effect eventually. I did just want to spend some time with you. Here's your work back. That's good. Your tension is a little uneven, but with practice it will get better. And I'll teach you how to block. It cures a multitude of sins."
"You wash it out and pin it down till it dries. We'll do that later."
I knit a few more rows, waiting to find the courage to ask what I wanted to. "Did you think I would be better at this than Bella?"
"I thought you probably would," she said, nodding.
"Why?" I wasn't used to anyone thinking at be good at anything remotely feminine, in spite of my looks. Hell, maybe because of my looks.
"Well, I thought Bella would get it, and would do pretty well, but I didn't think she'd be interested in really mastering it. She'd be able to do the basics, but I didn't think she'd ever be interested in something really complex, a scarf or two, a blanket for Renesmee, maybe. I knew that you probably would be interested in something more difficult, that you'd want to master and challenge yourself and go onto the next thing. I thought that if you started knitting, you and I would have something to share, that we could maybe even learn from each other. Bella and I don't need that." She shrugged. "You're just…more complex, I guess."
Wow, she'd never told me that. I didn't really do a lot of deep thinking unless I was out by myself, so Edward's image of me was that I didn't really do a lot of thinking about anything important. I once heard him describe my mind as a "shallow pool." Asswipe. I just hated thinking around him because nothing was ever private. It was nice to torment him, of course, but it was really annoying outside of that.
"Thanks, Esme." I was really touched by that.
"I am going to teach Bella to knit, though, because she really did ask me to."
"I think I'll just give you a couple of weeks' head start," she said, winking at me. I smirked a little.
"Thanks, Esme," I said again, and went back to my knitting.