Can a gentle soul ever be an ultra-cool knitter?

May 25, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Posted in Knitting morals, You and your knitting | Leave a comment
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An apprehensive non-knitter questions Gerty about whether she will ever be one of the band of super-cool knitters on the street.

Dear Auntie Gerty

Someone has offered to teach me how to knit. As I’m in my mid-30s and not terribly fit or aggressive, I’m not sure I’m up to ‘yarn storming’ and ‘stitching and bitching’. Should I leave knitting to the bright young things, or do you think it’s worth learning even at this late stage (maybe it would add to my ‘street cred’)?

Hope you can help
Gentle Jen, Junction Road

My dearest gentle one, I don’t know where you get the idea that knitters need to be aggressive or fit.  Why, the best exercise one can get is to lift a piece of lovely battenburg to your lips with one hand, and a nice gin and tonic with the other hand for balance.  And sitting down with a good knit is a great restorative, which can take away any aggression in your soul.  Why, if I had hands to knit with, I would be a fluffy ball of serenity.

Now, I understand that you may wish to be more aggressive.  Here I can help you, as your old Aunty Gerty can invoke good rage with some simple hypnosis. We’ll turn you from nervous non-knitter into something with hideous rage. Just look into the buttons …

Daily Fail

One, two, three and you’re under.

I want you to imagine yourself a generally irate individual who believes knitting should be done in the home and not enjoyed in groups at well-lit public venues.

You take a trip into town to visit the Royal Festival Hall. Look around you. There is a large group. They are having a good time.

You are not having a good time. Your polyester bootcuts are chafing and your packed lunch is sadly warm.

Yet they are smiling and laughing. Feel the rage! Feel it burning!

There is knitting in public. Feel the rage at the injustice! Feel the froth at the corners of your mouth!

Look more closely. Some of them are clearly young and some are older and some are older still. And yet they’re mingling happily. And some are new to knitting! Why is no one telling them off for making a spectacle of themselves? Why should they show their knitting in public when it is a private matter? Feel the rage! Feel it!

And look! Why are they not drinking cocktails like a recent misguided newspaper article says they should be? Why are they drinking tea and cider there rather than sitting in the pub like the paper said? Why aren’t they chic Sex and the City types that the newspaper writes about?! You feel confused. You feel the rage welling up! Can you feel your pulse raging?

There’s a man over there! What on earth does he think he’s doing? A man! Knitting! Among women!

It’s disgusting! Feel the rage! Feel it burn! Smooth down your fleece, approach them haughtily and tell them all to go away and have some shame! Growl! Show your anger!

One two three, and you’re back in the room.

You now know pointless rage. The path to aggressiveness is yours. But of course, unchannelled and pointless rage is a bad thing. So your next step is to find yourself a grrrr-ru.

Pack up a small bag and book yourself an Easyjet flight to darkest Tibet. Travel to the hills and raise your yarny flag.  One of the secret clan of ninja knitters will come and blindfold you to take you to their training camp, where they will teach you many things

You will learn that all knitting kind must live in harmony with each other and with non-knitters alike.

You will also learn how to use your DPNs as mini javelins and your circular needle as a garotte should the need arise for you to fight injustice. You will learn to channel your anger into furious speedy knitting to turn out garments at an impressive rate.

Once you have done this, you can go and learn to knit with pride having faced the pointless rage and won.

Holy knitting Madonna, Batman!

However, this will not add to your street cred or make you cool.  Why do you want to be cold, anyway? When you could knit lovely things to keep you warm.

Take Madonna as an example of how knitting will not add to your street cred.  Ever one to chase the trends, Maddy took up knitting. She knitted obsessively so that she would be taken seriously as a super-cool proper knitter. But look: she gained no street cred, only hag hands.

And my dear old friend Jimmy Hill. Tired of his one-dimensional career as a TV sports pundit, he took up knitting. He also adopted a mock-Jamaican accent, to show he was down with the kids. Did it do him any good? No, those pesky journalists just talk about Russell Crowe knitting backwards. And Jimmy’s bosses wanted a quiet word about his new presenting voice.

In all honesty, Gentle Jen, knitting will not increase or diminish your street cred, or make people look at you as being a different person. You will be the same person as before, only with excellent needle wrangling skills to impress your fellow knitters, who are the only people who really count.

It’s worth learning because it’s a creative, inspirational and fun thing to do. It’s also a lovely, welcoming and thought-provoking community to be a part of. Your age doesn’t change that at all.

And if you follow all my advice you’ll have an excellent armoury of stealth weapons and the power to kill from a great distance with a DPN. So it’s all win really.


Knit Year’s Resolution Shame

January 2, 2010 at 5:04 am | Posted in You and your knitting | Leave a comment
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I tell you how to turn Knit Year Resolution failure into stitching success next year in my own, slightly insulting, way.

Gerty gets wound up

Dear Gertrude

I’m writing to you in shame. I had four Knit Year’s Resolutions last January and I haven’t managed to achieve any of them.

My single sock is so saggy I daren’t begin the second. My jumper is really only one sleeve and half of the back or the front (I have forgotten which). I have yet to make a tension square before starting a project and am now cursed with a baby cardigan that the baby it was intended for will have to wait till it is well into its teens to wear (when I fear ducklings and teddy bears will not be very in vogue). I can’t even talk about the fingerless gloves. It’s still too painful.

How can I make sure I really conquer my Knit Year’s Resolutions this year? Should I cast aside my needles and take up a simpler challenge? Maybe some nice scrap booking or a bit of jazz flute?

Help me, Gertrude Woolsworthy, you’re my only hope.
Ashamed of Acton

Ashamed, you certainly should be. There is no excuse for slacking when it comes to your Knit Year’s Resolutions. Of course there are other pursuits in life that are worthy of your time but if you don’t make time to stitch then what kind of a knitter are you?

However that doesn’t mean that your Auntie Gerty doesn’t have a few tricks up her woolly sleeve to help you tick a few stash-crammed boxes this year.

Your first option is obvious: set yourself easier tasks. If you can’t bear the thought of suffering second sock syndrome or crocheting cashmerino undercrackers makes you quake then try something a little less ambitious.

Might I suggest resolutions such as “Buy myself lots of lovely yarn” or “Eat more cake between rows”?

Your knitting nemesis will help you become a better knitter or kill you. One or the other.

Your second option is to add the element of competition: get yourself a knitting nemesis.

You know that girl with the bob hair-do who sat opposite you at the Knit Crawl and looked at you funny when you said you actually thought eyelash wool had its uses? Or the fellow who dropped one of his stitchmarkers in your glass of Merlot at a meeting last October? Mentally wrap them in evil knitting nemesis yarn and make it your mission to outdo them with every project.

They’re making a pair of baby booties that look like bears? You make an entire outfit that makes the baby look like an actual bear complete with ears, growly teeth and a set of razor sharp claws. They’re making fingerless gloves? You make the same glove with fingers, and an extra finger in case nuclear war breaks out and you start growing extra digits due to the fall out. They organise their stash according to colour? You organise your stash according to texture ensuring that should your knitting nemesis accidentally poke you in the eye with a DPN you can still feel your entire stash and know exactly where your purple handspun alpaca is. HA!

Lastly there’s the old go to option: lie.

So you didn’t manage to do a single one of the tasks you set yourself? Who would know if you hadn’t told everyone? Buy a less saggy pair of socks from Etsy. Pay Quick Needles Chloe from down the road to finish your jumper for you. Knit a tension square with your leftover yarn after finishing a project just for show. Talk loudly and proudly about your fingerless gloves and tell the terrible tale of how they were tragically snatched from you by a nefarious glove troll the very moment you finished them late one night on the Northern Line.

Put away your sorry ideas of scrap booking and jazz flute for lesser mortals. You, Ashamed, have some serious knitting to do. I’ll expect less whining and more stitching from you in 2010. I’m watching you.

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