Friday, August 1, 2008

The Doctor is In!

No matter what else I may have planned or scheduled for the rest of my week, every Friday morning from 10 til 12 I get to go play Knit Doctor at Kiwi Knitting Co. In the morning I pack up my knitting bag - which invariably spends all of Thursday afternoon and evening vomiting it's contents all over the house. My set of crochet hooks on top of the knitting machine in the yarn room (referred to, by non-believers, as the dining room). Which is where they were last evening when I was watching a movie in the next room and picking up stitches on the gusset sides of the second sock, wanting to do that tricky pick-up st in either corner that prevents holes. The yarn darning needles by the chair in the yarn room where I was working a contrasting blanket stitch border on a felted scarf yesterday morning. My socks-in-progress (SIPs) from the coffee table. Stuff it all in, put the bag on the table by the front door where even someone senile from birth such as myself is much less likely to walk out the front door without it. Grab my bottle of water and go.

Playing Knit Doctor is one of my favorite ways of teaching, for a reason that would make many knitting teachers dread it, shuddering in fear. I never know what's going to come through the door. I have no idea what I'll be asked to solve. I can't prep for it! I love that. For someone who was never able to envision a traditional career for myself because I hate doing static, repetitive jobs, this is the ideal. I drive down the alley and park in the back, put the sun shade up in the front window of the car, and open the back door to my surprise for the day.

Opening that door is akin to having the privilege of unwrapping an incredible gift at the same time every week. Who's going to be there today, and what will they have?

This morning there was one woman who wanted to learn how to do an applied I-cord edge with buttonholes, and brought in her garter stitch swatch with contrasting yarn and needles all ready to go. She also brought a friend of hers for the first time, a newish knitter who had knitted a hat flat and needed to learn how to do mattress stitch. I got to see an array spread out over the table in the back room of things the second woman had knitted in the last week, proudly displayed and presented by her excited friend, with commentary. I was able to show one woman how to start a Twisted German cast-on without a slip knot, and how to space her stitches on the needle as she cast them on. For a fourth woman, I had the fun of talking about purl decreases and what makes a decrease lean the way you want it to lean. Yet another woman who is knitting a beautiful ribbon yarn jacket wanted to learn how to do an M1 increase. And I could talk about slipped stitch edges and their beauty and value on shawl edges with a fifth knitter. Last week included how to fix knitting stitches with a crochet hook, how to read your knitting, and how to give neck edges and shoulder seams support in a very stretchy sweater knitted with bamboo tape, by working a crochet chain invisibly into the fabric from the wrong side.

This is nectar and ambrosia to me. I love to help people. I love to talk about knitting. I love the challenge of not knowing what to expect. I live to see what I call the 'lightbulb moment' that dawns when a knitter who has come into the shop frustrated and confused suddenly gets it.

As our every Friday morning Knit Doctor sessions have become better-known and more popular, it isn't unheard of for me to walk in and see a table full of knitters all sitting and waiting for me, chatting away, and each one knowing just what her place is in the queue. Or others who might not have something they need help with today, who just want to sit and knit with a wonderfully welcoming group of women and learn by listening to the knitting issues of others and the solutions offered. Such an amazing sense of community has developed over these mornings as we sit together and knit and talk about our lives. We've seen wedding pictures, baby pictures, heard stories of what this person's children are doing, and who has had their baby already, and how another woman's husband is feeling after surgery. They are working on socks, shawls, sweaters, hats, dishcloths, scarves - you name it.

When I was a kid living in the mid-Hudson Valley, we used to get a few televisions stations out of New York City that would play nothing but old movies. One of my favorites - for odd reasons - will always be The Body Snatchers. The story is set in a small town in the California hills, and the premise is that aliens have come to earth in the form of 7-foot long pods. These alien pods would replicate particular people by producing an identical physical copy of that person inside the pod. As soon as the intended went to sleep, this perfect-in-every-way-but-one copy would come to life, and the real person would cease to exist. The one fatal flaw the alien copy had is that they felt no emotions at all. Nothing. And they were completely convinced that all humans should embrace this person/pod conversion because life was patently so much easier without being troubled by those pesky emotions. My favorite scene shows the local doctor and his fiance trying to escape an entire town turned pods by pretending to be pods themselves. All worked well with their plan until a little dog ran in front of a car, and Becky just couldn't help but scream.

While a double Cancer like myself will never tell you that the world would be a better place without emotions, I do feel as though I am creating pods, one person at a time. I watch formerly frustrated people relax and laugh, I see knitters with incredible stress in other areas of their lives sit and knit and talk with strangers-become-friends. I've seen tense newbies become relaxed old hands. I love creating knitting pods. Watch out for me, you might be next. And I thank you for the privilege.


Kathryn said...

I'm still trying to convince my son that since he doesn't use the space under his bed, that I should have it for storing coned yarn.

I laughed about your dining room. I needed the whole family to help me clean up a few days ago. My Aunt was visiting and staying for dinner. I had two Brother knitting machines attached to the dining room table, one on each end. Plus lids, scattered tools, and one laptop computer with Designaknit.

Lynn said...

I want to be a knitting pod! Thanks for being there when I get into trouble - what a relief to know you are there and have you get me out out of trouble...
-Lynn Fowler

Lauren said...

I want to be a knitting pod, too! But I can't go to Kiwi stuff during the weekday. :( Can there be more casual weekend stuff, for us 8-to-5ers? Or if there already is stuff like that, how can I find out about it?
Thanks. :)