I'm perplexed. So many of you seemed to think there is something naughty about an innocent game of Poohsticks. What ever do you mean? Must you see smut everywhere?
You boys in San Francisco, Denver and New York City, and especially you smug fellows in Washington, DC can just drop the attitude, because Chicago now also has a men's knitting night. Hah! Well, it had one. Last night. And there were only two of us. But still.
A quiet (non-commenting) but frequent reader of this blog contacted me a while back and asked if I'd like to meet up and knit, possibly prompted by my endless whining that I haven't got any other men to knit with.
(Oh, stop it. I am not a mysoginist. If you read this blog regularly, you know that. Among my dearest friends I count far more women than men, and most of my heroes are more properly called heroines.
And I love knitting with women, I really do. But you know how it is. Sometimes, as the Jewish grandmother of a guy I knew in college used to say, sometimes you need to get away from the goyim for a little while.)
Anyhow, Greg (that's the fellow's name) suggested we could have fun knitting together and he was right. Hell of a nice guy. He's far more accomplished than I am, being a veteran of numerous sweaters. He has also just finished a sock so beautiful that I hid my Mary Thomas Test Sock under the sofa cushions so it wouldn't suffer from crumpled self-esteem.
Greg also brought goodies: Elizabeth Zimmermann videos. Oh my.
St. Elizabeth in Living Color
I've been that way about Elizabeth Zimmermann since I first picked up Knitting Without Tears.
It's not the first book I would hand to an absolute beginner. She explains the basics well, and in fact helped me finally to understand what was wrong with my purl stitch. But what sets her apart is a mix of uncommon common sense, solid writing, and a bravado in the face of established "rules" that is infectious and liberating. She literally changed the way I think about knitting. Until I read her books, I never imagined I could be brave enough to deviate in the slightest from a printed pattern. Now I know better.
Greg has her "Knitting Workshop" series, made for television back in (I believe) the 1970s, and brought them along.
They have to be seen to be believed. They are the opposite of the slick stuff you see on HGTV. There is one camera and precious little editing. Elizabeth just sits in front of a stack of wool and talks and knits, occasionally turning her back so the camera can get an "over the shoulder" view of her work.
Occasionally somebody (Meg Swansen?) speaks to her from off-camera to remind her to talk about a particular topic or correct her gauge calculations. (After doing the math incorrectly in her head, Elizabeth says good-naturedly, "You see, I'm simply not qualified to teach knitting.")
She does each episode in a single take.
It's like having her in the living room. It's perfectly marvelous. It's inimitable.
Greg, thank you. Let's do it again.
And so, I have a question. Did anybody who might be reading this ever get to meet Elizabeth, or take one of her classes? If you did, and you would be kind enough to tell me about it, I would be so grateful. (I don't care how long-archived this article may be when you're reading it - speak to me.)