For those of you bloggers who have yet to catch the crafting background of Craft Wisely: The Past, Present, and Future of Handcrafting, we, as in students, were each required to learn knitting and/or crocheting over the summer. I personally had never attempted either. So as soon as I had physically recovered from the rigors of finals week (a couple weeks into summer) I approached the assignment with a bit of enthusiasm. I set out on KnitPicks.com and ordered a groovy pair of multicolored wooden needles and a few skeins of yarn.
After receiving all the necessary supplies I soon found the instructional book to be much harder to follow than anticipated. I felt as if I was looking into an eye teaser color blotch that left more questions than it answered! Fraught with frustration I was forced to look towards alternative methods of instruction. Just as I was fixing to lose all hope, my parents strolled up upon a bit of luck. They work at my hometown’s Regional Hospital which just so happens to have a large volunteer community. My parents discovered that one of the hospital volunteers belonged to a knitting organization that held local weekly meetings. I had hit the jackpot! So a week and a half later, dressed up in my Sunday finest, I gather up my knitting supplies (still mostly in the KnitPick box) and head to the First Episcopal Church on Bolt St.
A bit apprehensive that I might stick out as the only male and individual under the age of 60, I was nervous as I approached the church. I entered and kindly asked where the knitting group generally met. With a warm smile, a lady working the front desk sensed my confusion and jovially escorted me to the meeting location. To my surprise, as soon as I entered the main room I was instantly greeted as if they were all expecting a visit from their grandson! Elated by the response, I made my way towards the likes of Mrs. Emily Hamley. Apparently she was the best at teaching so I became her newest pupil, although at times I felt more like a group project. While I was being taught the garter stitch, I talked to Mrs. Hamley about her past and of course, her precious grandchildren. Who, by default, all knew how to knit, even the males! She continued to explain how her mother was the one who taught her how to knit and how she was excited that she could continue the tradition on to me. It was at this point that I felt honored as if I was a beneficiary of some great lineage, a surprising emotion. By this time the hour was gone and I was on my way. I returned to meet with the group two more times over the summer, advancing my knitting (through baby steps) and finding out more about these fine ladies. I would always make sure to remember specific topics of personal interest from the previous session so that I could instigate additional conversation the next time I visited.
It intrigued me how all of these women, most of whom were highly educated and successful, were brought together in celebration knitting. For those of you readers not in the class, we have covered material that interrelates along this line of thought- feminism in handcrafting, the culture and tradition behind knitting as well as many more. Now, I only hope that I have the chance to return to their group at some point bringing the knowledge I will have gleaned from this course.