Then again, maybe not
Friday March 20th 2009, 8:27 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

Someone I was talking to sparked the memory of a would-be recipient of my knitting, a good while ago.

This was not long after I’d started spinning my own yarn but well before I figured out how to knit lace. I splurged on a closeout and spun up some angora, little bunny fibers flying all around me as the wheel turned.  Achoo!  (A side note: I was curious, having been taught that adding twist to create yarn means adding friction to the fiber to hold it together–and the answer is yes, you can spin enough twist into angora to make it feel as harsh as burlap.  Don’t.)

Other than the burlap bit, I spun it into a fine two-ply, enough to fill an Ashford bobbin to the max; then I knit it  into a simple triangle shawl.  Or rather, more a large scarf, done thus: cast on three, knit (or purl, as the case may be) into the front and back of the last stitch of each row till the thing is the size you want.  Use small yarn and big needles for a faux-lace look.  Tadaah.  Take a small hair elastic, crochet tightly all around it in the same yarn to completely cover the elastic, and run it up the long ends of the triangle to hold the thing on and in place in the front.

So. I was wearing it while we were out and about.  Fluffy, soft, simple, not fancy; I was quite proud of it.

And an old woman I barely knew saw it.  She announced I was going to make her one too. She was going to pay me. Twenty-five dollars. That was a lot of money, you know! When could I have it done by?

I managed to recover from my astonishment without bursting out laughing.  *I* knew it was handspun and the time involved, and knowing that pure angora at retail cost a dollar per GRAM in store-bought yarn…

She was adamant and would not be dissuaded. I offered to teach her how to knit.  She already knew how; didn’t want to.  Twenty-five dollars. That was a lot of money, you know.  When could I have it done by?

Waiiiit, waiiiiiiiiit, whoa…

We managed to progress to her offering me the (I could just picture old scratchy acrylic from the 60’s) aged gold yarn in her closet to knit it with. I reiterated my offer to help her knit it herself.

She did finally give up after she made it clear that I was impoverishing myself and really missing out. Twenty-five dollars. That was a lot of money, you know!

Part of me kind of wished–still wishes–that I had it in me to be generous enough to surprise her with her own scarf, and in angora, too; that was one person who I knew would like the thing if I did.  If only.  If only she’d shown the least humility. But she just didn’t have it in her.

And neither did I.

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$25 is still a fair amount of money. For a while this evening I thought the site was down again.

Fun time: (I must be good for something!)


Q: Should I have a baby after 35?
A: No, 35 children are enough.

Q: I’m two months pregnant now. When will my baby move?
A: With any luck, right after he finishes college.

Q: What is the most reliable method to determine a baby’s sex?
A: Childbirth.

Q: My wife is five months pregnant and so moody that sometimes she’s borderline irrational.
A: So what’s your question?

Q: My childbirth instructor says it’s not pain I’ll feel during labor, but pressure. Is she right?
A: Yes, in the same way that a tornado might be called an air current.

Q: When is the best time to get an epidural?
A: Right after you find out you’re pregnant.

Q: Is there any reason I have to be in the delivery room while my wife is in labor?
A: Not unless the word “alimony” means anything to you.

Q: Is there anything I should avoid while recovering from childbirth?
A: Yes, pregnancy.

Q: Do I have to have a baby shower?
A: Not if you change the baby’s diaper very quickly.

Q: Our baby was born last week. When will my wife begin to feel and act normal again?
A: When the kids are in college.

Comment by Don Meyer 03.20.09 @ 9:00 pm

That was a good yarn! Save it up for a Knit Lit to come!

Comment by Ruth 03.20.09 @ 9:40 pm

Some people are a real trip.

And I’m falling over myself at Don! I know a surprisingly large number of pregnant people now, so it’s VERY well timed. *walks off giggling*

Comment by Amy 03.21.09 @ 4:18 am

I had a similar experience maybe 20 years ago when I was doing a spinning demonstration. I had a finished sweater (not handspun) available for sale, marked $325. [I had $125 worth of yarn in it.] A very nice older woman woman said I was crazy to charge less than $5 for a sweater like that. She thought I was even crazier when I said that I wasn’t.

Comment by Lynn 03.21.09 @ 4:29 am

How often life would be furthered if we could always access that which is within us. And sometimes the pull of young life is more pressing than anything else. It is right and good to nurture the young when you have them, and treat the rest when you can. I, too, offer lessons when people request my knitting for free or nearly so. I’m rarely taken up on it. Their time and effort is no more valuable than my time and effort. Sometimes seems others are willing to use my time instead of their own…so what is the lesson when people insist I should knit for them when they can jolly well knit for themselves…and even admit to knowing how?

Comment by Judy 03.21.09 @ 5:58 am

Some people really will not take no for answer. I believe that in those situations you do not need to be polite. I am very glad to know you were not bullied into knitting for that lady.

Comment by Sonya 03.21.09 @ 8:39 am

Your story touched my heart. I have to think this woman didn’t realize the value of your handspun yarn but, regardless of her tenacity and less-than-diplomatic approach, she paid you an extreme compliment regarding your taste and skill. Or, maybe she did realize the value of your yarn…which would make it extremely sad that she’d try to take advantage of you. In any event, hindsight – I’ve learned the saying is true now that I’m older – is 20/20 and you’re a better, more caring person because of this incident – and hopefully, she was too. One thing about it though – it certainly is an interesting story and…am glad you shared it with the rest of us. 🙂 And, I’m sure your shawl was lovely – and you were too…and maybe, she wanted to be just like you!
Wishing you a happy day today,

Comment by Abby 03.21.09 @ 10:35 am

Wow, I sometimes get the same request and they have no idea how long it takes to spin and knit up the item. It gave me a chuckle.

Comment by Joansie 03.21.09 @ 11:50 am

Hey Don, as per yesterday’s joke, I managed to get a friend with: “Did you hear, the leader of the Iroquois Nation died… ”

Had some fun with today’s jokes, too. Can’t wait ’til my baby starts college!

Comment by LynnM 03.21.09 @ 12:34 pm

Like you, I’d have been tempted to gift her with it (assuming I could ever even spin and knit such a garment), but also, like you, her lack of humility would have outweighed my generous nature in the end.

Comment by Renna 03.21.09 @ 1:32 pm

This story reminds me of a mom I knew. Our daughters were in 1st grade together. When she found out that I was a fulltime parent, she informed me that she would put me down as the emergency contact for her daughter, since I had nothing much to do anyway. Had she ASKED me, I might have agreed. Maybe not, though, since her daughter was a rather unpleasant child, given to taunting my daughter with all of the things her family’s additional income enabled them to do and have. I WAS the emergency contact for another child, whose single mom was working and taking classes, and politely asked me if I could help her out if an emergency arose. No problem!

Comment by Shirley 03.21.09 @ 4:34 pm

Wow, I had the same experience in the last year. I was wearing a stole I knit from 5 different yarns, none discount. This lady insisted that she would pay me $25 for one just like that. I evern HAD a second one, because of knitting samples for the pattern.

I tried to tell her that the yarn cost at least $50, and then I had to spend the time to knit it.

She was just sure $25 was enough. I explained that I taught knitting not far away. No go.

There must be an echo somewhere…

Comment by LynnH 03.21.09 @ 8:42 pm

I once was asked to knit a shawl by a knitter she said she would even send me the acrylic yarn to knit it for her but I wasn’t offered a dime;)((((Hugs))) Darcy

Comment by Darcy 03.21.09 @ 11:22 pm

Sheesh! She must have been of my grandma’s generation.

By the time she was well into her 80s, Gram had outlived her husband and all her siblings, so she had inherited quite a bit of money. Certainly, enough to keep her very comfortable while she was still with us. My mom and Gram were shopping for a blouse for Gram to wear to a wedding, at a local thrift shop — Mom’s favorite place to shop! Gram saw a beautiful, colorful, silk blouse in her size, that looked perfect on her — price? — $3.00. Gram refused to buy it, because she would only wear it the once, and couldn’t see spending that kind of money on something for only one wear! Mom could NOT convince Gram, even when Mom offered to buy it for her as a gift!

We put it down to the Depression mentality that shaped Gram’s every economic move through her whole life. Or, it could have been her Irish stubbornness! Not out of the realm of possibility… :-))

Comment by Pegi 03.22.09 @ 5:57 am

OH, I have so totally been there. Weird thing is that people do it with all sorts of precious items–not just handspun/handknits! I have had people offer me $100 each for my bird dogs! (Hah, like I’d give them away.) I offered to trade them for this man’s children. He didn’t get it. I’ve put in just about that much training into them, and they ARE my children, for now… 🙂

Comment by Joanne 03.22.09 @ 8:05 am

Some friends and I were holding a charity yard sale to donate any $ to a local no-kill animal shelter that was possibly closing.

I donated several king sized afghans to the auction portion of the sale. Several women passed by and commented positively on my work and then said that they wouldn’t pay the minimum bid of $25 for any one of them because they could have knitted it themselves.

It pains me to see how many people just don’t realize the value of the yarn in the project, much less the time and effort put into it – even for a good cause.

Nowadays, I too offer to give a couple of beginner’s lessons on how to knit or crochet rather than doing it for a person – especially a person with an attitude. I figure the lessons would be more valuable to them not only in learning a skill but also in appreciating what goes into a craft. Rarely is the offer accepted. 😛

Comment by prajantr 03.24.09 @ 7:13 am

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