T.... wants to know. He is looking at the knitting needles my brother made. He has picked them up and pretended to knit with them.
"That's really hard to do."
I go to hand over two smaller needles. He is not interested. He takes the two big needles to his mother,
"Look Cat has two ginormous ones for doing knitting."
His mother has already seen them but she dutifully looks at them again.
"Cat's brother made those."
I explain as best I can without the machinery there to show him. His father is not a "hammer and nails" man. He nods and then asks,
"Have you got any really, really little ones?"
I show him a pair of 1.5mm needles.
"No, they aren't the same."
"They do the same thing. They are still knitting needles," I tell him.
"No. Those are different."
"Yes. They are smaller."
"No, not different like that."
"What do you mean?"
He frowns. Eventually after a long silence he says,
"They are made from different stuff. The big ones feel nicer."
He's right. There is a difference. Wood does feel nicer than metal here.
"You are absolutely right," I tell him, "They do feel different. I like the way the wooden needles feel too."
"They should always be wood ones then."
Do I try to explain why some knitting needles need to be metal?
In the end I didn't but I thought how wise T...'s mother has been. He has almost no plastic toys. His parents have bought wooden toys and asked his close relatives to do the same. His father may not be a "hammer and nails" man but T... is still growing up to appreciate the feel of timber and the pleasure of holding it.
I might even teach him about the pleasure of knitting real wool on real timber needles one day.