was able to just start knitting. But as we were knitting, I realized I had spent my entire childhood watching her knit. Her knitting was relaxing to me. I could zone out and stare at her hands. I think I learned to knit by watching her. I just didn't realize I could do it until I actually had the needles in my hands."
Today, Skloot knits as often as she can. "It's meditative," she says, noting that because her book took a decade to write, knitting became a refuge. "It was a way for me to stop thinking intensely and turn everything off." She favors scarves ("My boyfriend now has a wide array of scarves," she says) and, lately, baby blankets, which she makes as gifts.
Skoot doesn't do socks, but like her mom, she can knit while talking, walking, watching TV, or sitting in a dark movie theater. Neither woman needs to watch what her hands are doing, but since both are often on the move, they do need to knit travel-friendly items. (Surprisingly, knitting needles haven't caused a problem at airport security.) Skloot is knitting placemats during her national book and speaking tour. "They don't take up a lot of space in my suitcase," she says.
When talking about her daughter's innate abilities as a knitter, McCarthy recalls a similar experience when she and her then-13-year-old grandson were awaiting the birth of his brother, the younger of her two grandchildren. "I was knitting, and he asked if he could, too," recalls McCarthy, who had taught the boy to knit when he was small. "I'm thinking, this isn't a good time to be teaching him how to knit again, but he insisted. I handed him the socks I was knitting, and he remembered how to do it."
Perhaps Rebecca Skloot's next science book could explore the existence of a knitting gene?