Saturday, 10 March 2007

Green wool and how the dinner went

Show and Tell

Before I report on knitting at dinner, let me show you something marvellous.

The lovely Duchess sent me this.

Thank you so much, Duchess. I just love it to bits. It feels as soft and mossey as it looks!

I am so desperate to start a pair of green socks, it's all I can do to just restrict myself to keeping it by me and stroking it with the deepest affection. Actually there are two other things stopping me from casting on a pair of green socks immediately.

1. I have a deadline on my sister's Grape Juice Socks (ie want to finish them this weekend); and

2. I want to find the perfect pattern for these socks.

In fact, I'm up for suggestions. Tell me what you think I should make out of these socks. This may well save me hours of trawling the net looking for the perfect pattern. I'm considering the Monkey socks from Knitty but I'm just not sure.

Knitting At Dinner

Alright. I need to get my just brewed cup of tea before I launch into this story. No, it won't be that long, I promise. But hopefully interesting.

So most of these people were in some way connected with unions. My husband used to work for one and the host of the dinner was his ex-boss, and also a dear friend of mine. The rest of the people there I'd met briefly at some union event in the past, or a women activists kind of function or something like that.

So, all familiar faces, just not a lot of names I could remember at first. There were a couple of other blokes there but for the most part, leftie, academic, politically active women, one of whom, as an aside, is heading off to Canada next year to spend a year trying to get work as an extra in sci-fi films. So, you get the picture - not your average group of women!

I first took out the knitting at cocktails. I was comfy on this little soft round stool and thought what the hell. No one commented at first. Good. I actually prefer it that way. I'm not doing it to get attention. I'm doing it to get work done and keep my hands busy. I'm less likely to duck outside for a smoke that way, too!

Soon the comments started rolling in though. Much fuss was made of the completed sock I had with me; there was talk of the wonder of working with more than two needles, the time it took to make one and of course, why would you bother? That came from bloke, that last question. Trust a man to be purely function focussed! Why make one when you can buy socks! But once he had it thrust into his hand by his partner who insisted he'd think differently once he touched it, he was sold and in fact asked more about knitting after that than almost anyone else.

Conversation eventually moved on but one woman came back to me with a persistent line of questioning.

The Politics of Knitting

I could possibly have found this annoying if it had gone on too long and if I felt much more like I was having to justify my craft. But she seemed genuinely interested to know how I felt it was possible to justify all that time spent sitting around knitting when I could be out in the world doing something instead.

Hmmmm....well I'm probably preaching to the choir here to tell you what I said, but I'll recap anyway.

1. Knitting is about community. We all know the drill on that one. I don't have to tell you what I said.

2. Knitters give back to the community. I detailed some of the stuff I've been involved in. Although when I told her about donating wool and needles to a rehab facility (Interim House) in the States, I got the impression she wasn't sure why women who were recovering from addictions and abuse needed knitting, but the conversation moved on quickly and I missed my chance.

3. And this is where hubby jumped in and explained that women mostly knit for other women and children so it's far removed from the patriarchy (yes, it was that kind of function - we discussed patriarchy and matriarchy).He spoke in a way that made me so proud because he obviously pays attention to what I do and he reads a few of your blogs, too).

, when he was giving a little talk on the blogosphere, you featured, actually. I think his words were something along the line of, 'frankly, when you've got a knitter who has a cat called Sekhmet that has become a character in her blog with post titles like Sekhmet you fucker then I think you're not really dealing with the most conservative bunch of women.' This was met with nods of approval!

I did also, before I forget, talk about the idea that saying what we do is old lady's or granny's work is actually deeply insulting. If it wasn't for what our grandmothers and their grandmothers before them did, we wouldn't be doing this now and why belittle the crafts that they used not only for artistic expression but also to clothe and keep warm their families as if it meant nothing?

So anyway, this woman said she's going to go away and read up on the politics of craft in the modern world. Good for her.

Meanwhile, I'm going to go and finish some socks. Yes, I know I can buy them but as I showed them all last night, they can't buy socks that look like the ones we make, can they? And no shop bought sock will have an ounce of the love I'm pouring into the ones I'm making for my sister.

I did leave with at least one request for a pair of red socks for my friend though, which I am going to happily make. She didn't ask me to justify the process. She just lusted. I liked that.