Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Describing the World

I found myself yesterday afternoon describing the knitting world to a brand new knitter. It went like this.

The 4:59pm bus home. I sat down near the front, as I always do, when a man carrying a suit in a dry cleaning bag sat beside me. At the moment, I'm knitting another Hemlock Ring Blanket (yes, really) and was worried the amount of space he and his dry cleaning were taking up was going to inhibit this. I pressed on regardless.

I switched on my ipod and commenced knitting when above the sounds of Anne of Green Gables, I heard him speak to me and had to remove the ear buds to hear it.


"That's nice knitting," he said and I thanked him, imagining that'd be pretty much the end of the conversation but at once he began to tell me how he had just learned to knit.

"Really!" I declared. "That's wonderful."

(I should hasten to add at this point, simply for the sake of descriptive purposes, that this man is probably about my age, at a guess, at least no older than forty.)

A converstation followed, beginning with him asking about the Hemlock Ring Blanket, which he assumed was a jumper, oddly enough. I answered his questions and told him a little about how lace works and he seemed satisfied and amazed with the information.

He told me his wife had taught him to knit. She's not much of a knitter, more of a crochet fan, but that he remembered his grandmother and aunt as great knitters and he felt more drawn to that than crochet.

He told me his first project is a blanket. He wasn't sure what yarn but it was from Lincraft, red and 'kind of feathery, kind of thick in some places, thin in others.' The mind boggles. He said he's very slow but quite enjoying it.

He told me that he wanted to learn to knit because he and his wife are trying to watch less TV in the evenings. I chuckled quietly about that. I was telling this to RoseRed earlier who said, 'He'll watch more TV now. He'll just see less of it!'

On and on this conversation went. We discussed the merits of smooth yarn over novelty and I tried, I honestly really tried not to display too much of my utter disdain for novelty yarn. It's really not nice to push one's biases onto a new knitter, opting instead to explore with him the idea that if he's finding it a bit fiddly to work with such thick and lumpy yarn, maybe smooth yarn ('like this!' I said, brandishing the Bendigo 12ply which is the Hemlock-in-progress - see below) would be something useful to try for learning. He seemed to take that on board with due consideration.

Before too long, we were talking about knitting on the internet and communities, both real and virtual. He seemed fascinated to learn that a)knitting was on the internet at all and b)that there were real world communities who knitted outside the home, especially right here in Canberra.

He pondered, "'I wonder if I'm pretty much alone, being a man and knitting."

Again, holding aloft Hemlock, I explained that it was designed by a man. I did not burden him with explaining that the Hemlock Ring Blanket is an interpretation of a doily pattern, not technically a design by a man. There's only so much information one needs to dump on a newbie!

By the time he got off the bus at the other end of my street, he declared he was off to Google knitting and check out knitting podcasts!

What I found most fun about this conversation was the realisation of just how much there is to say about our little knitting world, online and real. It's not so little, really. It's a vast, fabulous world for those of us who inhabit it but it seems to me that only when trying to describe the knitting world to someone who's never heard of it just how much there is to say. I love it all profoundly and can't imagine fully what was in the space before I filled it with all the yarn and needles and colour and friends.

It really made a nice change to be describing the knitting world to someone who seemed amazed by it, rather than sneering at it, because I'm sure we've all experienced that.

Here's the Hemlock-in-progress. I'm loving it just as much the second time around. It's much bigger than this now - probably won't be good for bus knitting for much longer.