Beginner’s luck
Saturday March 08th 2014, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I was wrong: the first peach tree has not two or three like I thought but 46 peaches visible now. Fourteen months old. They weren’t kidding when they said that variety was precocious and prolific.

One more story on Stephanie’s visit.

A few days before I saw her, there was a comment on her blog that someone should bring a pair of needles they didn’t care if they never saw again and some wool and cast on at her talk and pass it on down and up the rows in the audience, everybody adding a bit for a scarf for Stephanie.

I thought that was a great idea! But now, you know the chances of an actual scarf being done in that hour that she would be speaking were, well, what they were. Still: why not have fun with the idea.

I had a pair of plastic circs, about 5.5 or 6mm, given me by someone who once unloaded her old everything-knitting to get rid of it.

And I had a ball of Malabrigo single-ply thickish yarn in a subdued apricot, not too thin like most of my stash, and hoped the color would do.

And so I cast on at Books Inc and started to launch into a short lace pattern–and immediately realized that not everybody knows what to do when last row’s yarnovers are coming at them and given the number of people there I didn’t want to hog the thing to do a multi-row repeat. So I backtracked and stuck with plain old stockinette and let others decide what they wanted to do on their own turns.

It went down our row, people getting into this idea with mostly grins, and then I tried to hand it to the people in the last row just behind us.

Now, I remember twenty-four years ago (my baby was two, and officially as of yesterday that made 26-2=24, so it’s easy to tell how long my return to knitting has been) I started knitting in public for the first time. I was very self-conscious about it, very sure that someone at some point was going to pounce and tell me no, no, you’re doing it all wrong, don’t you see you’re supposed to wrap it like this? Hold it this way!

Because I didn’t do it at all the way I was taught. My mom, I know now, knits Continental style and taught me thusly when I was ten. When I was sixteen, I wanted a sweater in one of her knitting magazines and she gave me the classic Mom’s line of, Go make it yourself. I wasn’t about to deliberately look incompetent by telling her I didn’t really quite remember how, though I did get her to refresh my memory re the cast-on part. Only because I had no choice but to admit to that. Mom was the only real knitter I knew.

Then I went into my room and hashed out how to work this. I remembered, as I looked at it, how the yarn was supposed to go around for a knit vs a purl. I knew you were supposed to run it between some (which?) fingers first. I grabbed the yarn for each stitch and got a feel for the thing at last and I was off and running: I made that cabled wool vest I wanted, then a wool Norwegian four-color intarsia sweater (Mom sewed in the inset front panel, bless her), all with my babysitting money, a vest in ribbing and stripes, an intarsia snowflake vest in the most gosh-awful acrylic in the horrifying shades of blue that were popular that year, a more sensible all-0ver cabled zippered white wool Vogue sweater. (Mom sewed in the zipper,  and again, bless her. I’m still grateful. And the zippers for the pockets. I was supposed to sew the fabric pockets in behind those afterwards. I still have the sweater. I still fit into that sweater. I still have never made those pockets, so those sideways zippers open to whatever I throw on that day.)

I drove some of my teachers crazy by knitting in their classrooms. My mom worked in the English department at my high school and if my teachers (Mme Whatzits in French I am looking at you) ever said anything to her she did not put a stop to it, though she did counsel me with a wry grin to sois sage.

So. I knitted, and I knitted at a good pace, but I knitted like nobody else I knew because it sure didn’t look like how Mom did it. And years later I still knew only a very few knitters and none of them lived near me now in California.

But when John was two was also when I was diagnosed with lupus and so I was in doctors’ offices a lot and I was knitting in public where there were a lot of people with nothing to do there but watch the one thing in the room that was moving (besides my kids). My fingers.

What changed everything was the woman with the British accent in the eye doctor’s waiting room who stared, and stared, and stared some more at my hands as I worked as I got more and more self-conscious in response, and finally she exclaimed, I wish I knit like that! That looks a lot easier on the hands!

That saved me then and forever after. She gave me a great gift and never knew it. Knit on!

So. Thursday night, there we were, adding rows to the apricot-scarf-wanna-be, and we handed it to the people in the back row behind us.

I had no idea we were going to be putting anyone on the spot. Several people there did not want their hands to be the ones to mess up that Malabrigo. They did not want to be seen struggling with it. There were all these people there wearing fancy handknits….

Everybody starts out a beginner and there could not have been a more encouraging place for a newbie. We said, it’s okay, this is only if you want to.

And I wished that that long-ago British woman–I was trying to *be* her–could step right up and tell them the beauty of the evening was way more than skein deep and adding on or not, they were there and that was the important thing.

I have no idea where that Malabrigo ended up after we left. We were near the end of the line when Stephanie was signing books but that still left a fair number of people. Did anyone cast it off? Did it join the squares she’s been collecting? Did she even see it?

Last I saw it at a distance someone had added maybe feather-and-fan, but whatever, a lace pattern that spread it out at the top like a tulip opening up in the spring.


P.S. Happy Birthdays John and Kim!

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

My knitting friends did something like that community knit for our mutual friend who was going for surgery. We each took leftovers of sock yarn and knitted an inch’s worth of sock in our yarns and when the socks were finished we gave her the craziest, “bestest” looking socks ever! She loved them! And we loved making them.

Comment by Jody 03.09.14 @ 6:55 pm

Oh, I wonder where the scarf-in-progress ended up? It came to me twice, and only about 6″ worth on it the second time, so hopefully it went all the way to the front. I knit a row of eyelets, just for fun. And yes, for me it was twisted purling. Self-taught from a magazine, I made several hats before someone watched me and pointed out I was twisting all my purl stitches. Well, that explained a few mysteries!

Comment by DebbieR 03.10.14 @ 8:46 am

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>