I have heard a few authors speak. I’ve seen Sherman Alexie, Chris Hedges, Sam Seader, and a few others but I’ve never heard anyone quite like Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka The Yarn Harlot). She was human, funny, humble, witty, clever, and genuine.
She told a story about how she got locked out of her hotel room in her underware and only her underware, blue with the words “cowgirl” on the bottom. About how one of her friends was sitting in the Dr. office with a woman who was watching “The Price is Right” and made a comment about how she couldnt imagine herself being so bored as to take up knitting to which the Harlot’s friend responded that she couldnt imagine herself being so bored as to insult complete strangers. She spoke about how knitting is good for the brain, that a repetitive task is meditative, staves off Alzheimer’s, how knitting is valuable and creative. How knitters are hard to categorize, etc. All things knitters know. That we are not all lonely grandmothers, that we are not all women.
I’ve only been knitting for just over a year. I never thought I could learn to take a couple of sticks and some string and make a jacket, or a hat, or socks. Especially socks. And although I make lots of mistakes (LOTS OF MISTAKES) it is so nice to be able to wear something I have made myself, something that was not “Made in China”, something that will last. This is not to say it is not frustrating because I have a project right now that is very frustrating. Try making thigh-high lace stockings. Not easy. But, for the frustration, I do learn and I am getting better at it. The socks I’m making for my Mom have not had to be ripped out yet. (Yet, being the operative word. I am not so perfect as to think I will not have to rip out any of the first or second sock) my stitching is more even, etc. I never thought of myself as particularly creative and would never have thought of myself as crafty. I used to think it was too girly, that I was too much of a feminist to knit.
But, women have been knitting for over 1000 years. Over one thousand years. It’s a skill that will always have something new to show, some new challenge, a skill that can be comforting in the repetition and simplicity of just making a knit stitch over and over again. My Grandmother knitted when she was alive. it’s carrying on a tradition of women being crafty and creative and having something to show for it when you’re done. Even if the sock you made for you looks like it could only fit an 8 year old. Knitting is not a waste of time. It is doing something of value with your time and hands. It is more productive than just sitting in front of the TV watching “The Price is Right” eating chips and drinking beer. While for me, knitting is not about survival, it is amazing to see how a pattern works up, or watching socks come together. And marveling at the people, men and women, who took the time to come up with things like turning a heel, making cables, or just a simple knit and purl stitch. Marveling at the ingenuity human beings have to come up with this and marveling at how long they have been doing it.