under my skein: a survival story

under my skein // movita beaucoup

July 1981

10:15 am: My mother parks our black Mercury Monarch on Main Street. I am nine years old and sitting up front alongside my mother. My seven-year-old sister and three-year-old brother are sitting in the back. Nova Scotia didn’t pass seatbelt laws until 1985, so we were free to bounce around like fleas on a barnyard animal.

10:16 am: My mother leaves us in the car and goes into the bank. In those days no one was concerned about kidnapping because most towns were over-populated with little children. You were far more likely to return to a few extra kids and a basket of zucchini in your vehicle if you left it unlocked during errands.

10:17 am: It is summer in the Annapolis Valley, so it’s already about 4.7 million degrees out. I’m wearing adorable yellow shorts and a Holly Hobbie t-shirt which is clinging to me in the heat. I am a scrawny child. My legs are each about the width of a plastic straw which I’d give anything to have nowadays except straws aren’t politically correct.

10:18 am: I push my mother’s knitting bag aside so I can chat with my brother and sister. I turn and lean against the back of the bench seat so I can see them. We discuss the upcoming nuptials of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, the Hillside Strangler case, and the politics surrounding the end of the Iranian hostage crisis.

10:25 am: After some lively discourse on rationalism in neoclassical art, I peel myself from the leather seat and turn to face forward. I see a knitting needle sticking out of my thigh, but that doesn’t register until I try to remove it and realize that there is actually a goddamned knitting needle sticking out of my thigh.

10:26 am: I tell my siblings that there is a knitting needle stuck in my thigh.

10:27 am: My mother returns to the car to find her three children white as sheets, staring forward. It is very quiet.

10:27:10 am: My mother enjoys the quiet for about ten seconds before asking why we are being so weird.

10:27:19 am: I point at the knitting needle sticking out of my leg.

10:27:24 am: My mother joins us in silence and immediately starts the car so we can seek out assistance from home.

10:29 am: I feel decidedly ill. I begin to worry that I will get in trouble for having a knitting needle stuck in my leg. My mother has never yelled at me for getting injured in the past, but I know how much she likes her knitting needles.

under my skein // movita beaucoup

10:31 am: We exit the car and carefully and make our way into the house. My mother leads me to the living room, directing me to rest on the couch with the knitting needle pointing skyward.

10:33 am: My mother calls the family physician and the receptionist puts her right through to the doctor, no matter that he’s with a patient. I guess things sticking out of legs gives you a pass.

10:34 am: The doctor knows my mother well. They worked together when she was a nurse, so he doesn’t feel she needs to bring me to the hospital. He tells her to DIY the situation and deal with my predicament from the comfort of home. He doesn’t say a word about how irresponsible it is for a nurse to let a child harpoon herself with a knitting needle.

10:36 am: The doctor tells my mother to place one of her hands firmly on my thigh so she can hold the muscle in place with the flat of her hand, while slowly pulling the knitting needle out with her other. (I guess he has forgotten that I don’t have any muscles.) They agree that it is most likely a puncture wound so there won’t be a violent unleashing of blood. My mother relays all of this information to me once she hangs up the phone.

10:41 am: I literally don’t care if any blood gets on the sofa, mother.

10:42 am: I am told there will be no anesthetic for the procedure. I will be conscious for the extraction. “Will you be able to save her leg?” my sister asks. “Yes,” my mother nods solemnly. “Yes, we can save it.”

10:43 am: I drink a 40-ouncer of whiskey and bite down on the dirty rag my mother has shoved into my mouth. My brother crouches by my head and tells me to squeeze his hand while my sister prepares to restrain my legs. Perspiration trickles down the bridge of my nose.

10:44 am: Using her hand like a tourniquet my mother begins the operation. “Don’t you die on me,” my sister beseeches from her post at the other end of the couch. “Don’t you die on me!”

10:45 am: I watch myself lying on the sofa from above, but can only see my legs. I am flooded with an overwhelming sensation of light and love. I see The Pope riding a miniature pony and a dead great-aunt that I’ve never met in person dancing with Julius Robert Oppenheimer. Then Jesus walks up to me and says, “Isn’t it just so sad about Buddy Holly?”

under my skein // movita beaucoup

10:46 am: I feel the aluminum shaft slide out of my leg. My family comes into focus. I am undead.

10:47 am: A small adhesive dressing is applied to the shallow wound. Despite limited access to medical resources, my mother has successfully extracted the knit-stick from my limb.

10:48 am: Exhausted and extremely drunk, I sleep.

11:23 am: I wake and call my sister to my bedside. “Tell the others my story,” I say. “Tell them what happened here today.”

11:29 am: My mother tells me she will be making my favourite meal for dinner and puts a cool facecloth on my forehead.

5:43 pm: My father is home from work. “How you doin’?” he asks. “I’m okay,” I say, putting on a brave face. “Listen,” he says, “your mother’s wondering if you’re done with her knitting needle. She’d like to finish the cuff on that sweater.” I roll over and wonder if Julius Robert Oppenheimer had to put up with this sort of crap from his family.


thanks for sharing this survival story, my little angel muffin


  1. cherrill on July 30, 2018 at 11:15 am

    Riveting! It had everything I look for in a story – drama, suspense, sarcastic quips. 10/10

    I once tripped and fell* on my mom’s knitting basket and got a knitting needle stuck my hand – in through the palm and you could see it trying to poke through other side. She pulled it out and then called the doctor, who told her, “whatever you do, don’t pull it out.” Incidentally, I was also living in the Annapolis Valley at the time – weird.

    *I have tripped many, MANY times, but only fell on the knitting basket once.

    • movita beaucoup on July 30, 2018 at 11:41 am

      This is equal parts horrifying and comforting. But mostly comforting because I don’t know many people who’ve stuck knitting needles in themselves.

  2. Eva on July 30, 2018 at 11:46 am

    This is truly like the twilight zone. I was born in 72…sister in 74 and brother in 78. My mom was a nurse and master seamstress, knitter, crochet, macrame, needle point…you name it. Never impaled myself with one of her needles but I did see her sew a thread through her thumb. Also remember playing with the hem marker in her closet…it was a little vial of powdered chalk stuck to a meter stick with a squishy thing that blew the chalk on your skirt as you twirled around.

    • movita beaucoup on July 31, 2018 at 8:00 am

      Alas, my sister was born in ’73 – we were 16 months apart. (But because of where our birthdays fall it can seem like we’re two years apart for a few months.)

      Our home economics teacher once sewed through a finger with a sewing machine during class. I wasn’t there, but apparently she just kept right on sewing. SHE WAS THAT GOOD.

      • Eva on July 31, 2018 at 1:54 pm

        Yeesh…I was born in Aug and she was born in March so16.5 months apart…
        Yes well…she cut the thread and pulled it out of her thumb…bandaged it to prevent blood from ruining what must have been one of our dresses and continued sewing
        It was gruesome…

  3. Joan on July 30, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    I will never look at a knitting needle the same again. Weapons!!!

    • movita beaucoup on July 31, 2018 at 7:53 am

      I should probably keep a set under my pillow. You know, in case of intruders.

  4. Rick on July 30, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    ??? too funny! You had me at Mercury Monarch!! (our car was a Studebaker station wagon, easily converted to ambulance configuration if necessary, thankfully never was).

    • movita beaucoup on July 31, 2018 at 7:53 am

      My uncle used to drive a hearse. A decommissioned hearse.

      He was obviously the coolest person in our family.

  5. Karen on July 30, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Cracked up throughout this entire story. Not that I enjoy that you had to go through that, honest!

    • movita beaucoup on July 31, 2018 at 7:52 am

      Mission accomplished!

  6. Nancy on July 31, 2018 at 11:01 am

    This is soooo funny! Thank you Lynne Knowlton for introducing me to this hilarious writer!

    • movita beaucoup on July 31, 2018 at 12:02 pm

      Nancy, I’m so glad you found me! We have a lotta fun around here…

  7. Stacy on August 20, 2018 at 3:19 am

    I need more details on how you managed to get out of the car and into the house while not dislodging the knitting needle. I’m imagining it hurt if you wiggled it. Also, was it that sharp and pointy that you didn’t even feel it go in??? Kudos to Rosie Beaucoup for 1. keeping calm under pressure and 2. single-handedly managing the removal of said needle.

    • movita beaucoup on August 20, 2018 at 6:25 am

      I didn’t feel a thing when it went it – I wonder if this is typical of puncture wounds? And I’m sad to say that I can’t remember how I got into the house. Actually, my sister and I thought the needle had been removed in the car until Rosie corrected us recently. So I’m assuming magic was at play? Or wiggling and shuffling?

  8. Christine on July 9, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    I loved that car. I also loved bench seats – where did they go??

    And I love that you can be at the Bank and back home within three minutes…the joys of small town living….main I miss living in a place where everything is situated on one main street about .5km long.

    You were incredibly scrawny – I’m thinking, all things being relative, it was likely a sewing needle.

    I have no memory of your sister being that sympathetic – sweet kid, though, so anything is possible….

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