Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Memory Skein

The first knitting shop I ever went into with the intent of buying yarn for myself was Woolcott and Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I was a student, and under the spell of a friend who was an advanced knitter–the only knitter I'd ever met who was my age. She had given me basic knit/purl lessons with a scrap of alpaca, and I liked it enough to wish to continue with my own tools and materials.

After peppering the saleswoman with a volley of stupid questions, I left with an armload of incredibly pretty, breathtakingly expensive blue worsted (to make a sweater, of course) and my first pair of needles.

The sweater never happened, but over time the worsted became a succession of tediously long scarves. I never went back to Woolcott, as knitting was something I did once a year. In October, I would knit a scarf. In April, I would lose it. In between, I didn't knit.*

That was years ago. I no longer live in Boston, and many of the places I knew in Harvard Square have long since dried up and blown away. But Woolcott is back on my radar, due to a very happy coincidence.

Sean, a fellow blogger whose projects are an endless source of inspiration to me, has taken over as manager of the store. I wrote to congratulate him, and the response I got should cause Boston-area knitters to shake their needles with joy.

He's been working at the shop in a part-time capacity since 2001. He's a hardcore knitter. He knows what it's like to be a customer. He knows advertising, merchandising, marketing, etc at a professional level. And he's been given a mandate to do with the place as he sees fit. His goal? "I envision empowering people with a belief in themselves and their own creativity."

I read Sean's message to Dolores. "That's very touching," she said. "Ask him again what his vision is after somebody's kid barfs up Juicy Juice on the Rowan display."

(Dolores is not having a good week. She's got a bad cold and refuses to do anything but lie on the sofa drinking orange juice, reading Germain Greer and writing disgruntled letters to the editors of Vogue Knitting and The Economist.)

Anyhow, Sean, if you're reading this: congratulations, and good luck. Also, I was digging around in my stash and found that I still have a full skein of that blue worsted. Is fifteen years too late for a return?

*I know. I can't believe it, either. What the hell can I have been doing?


pacalaga said...

Return yarn? My dear Franklin, what are you thinking?
You should be asking him if he can find you some more, so you can finally see that sweater to its happy completion.
Tell Dolores that a little vodka in her orange juice will help her on the path to wellness. Or at least help her not feel her symptoms.
(I can't decide if it's funny or exceedingly weird that I'm leaving comments for a cartoon sheep. >gasp< Franklin, don't tell Dolores I said that!)

Holly @Home said...

Rub Vick on her ..ah ha how do I know you guys have "Vick" ..thank-you all the Chicano writers who mention it like Mum it's part of their life too.I can't imagine what a disgusting mess but her lanolin might dry with your heating anyhow.Mum wants to visit Boston just a bit more now ..snowball in hells chance.

Dave Daniels said...

Yeah, Seany-baby is going to do gang busters for the store. I've been hearing from friends that they can see a big improvement already. I have a trip across the River in the next few days to see what he's been doing.
Frankling, you need an East Coast trip one of these days, huh?

Elisabeth said...

I used to only knit in the winter and cross stitch during the summer. I haven't picked up a cross stitch project in a long, long time, now.

A Ukranian friend of mine recommends putting a vodka-soaked towel around your neck for sore throats which is what his mother used to do when he was a child. I'm not sure if the vodka touching your neck had any effect or if it was the inhaling the fumes that just made you not care anymore. I'm sure Dolores would think it was a waste of perfectly good vodka, though.

Jon said...

I don't think any of us ever forget the first time we set foot in a knitting store...I think I may have to blog about this.

Good topic, dear!

Sean said...

OF course we'd be happy to take the return...provided you have the receipt ;0)

Thanks for the platitudes...did I really say that? It sounds great!!

Right now I'm tired. We just received a new yarn Ella Rae...40 colors, 40 skeins of each...yup that's right 1600 skeins to sticker and put away. OH my aching back!

Mhairi said...

I can remember knitting a baby dolls hat in Primary One age 5. It was a yellowy orange speckled "yarn" that I thought looked wonderful, but well looked awful.
I got bored half way through and asked the teacher to finish it for me - I was sent back to my seat to finish myself.

A new Yarn shop opened in my town, and I thought, yes, some decent yarn, Debbie Bliss, Rowan, Lana Grosso, Noro.
She cancelled (CANCELLED) her Debbie Bliss order cos they didn't deliver on time. They rest is , bad, apart from some Lana Grosso. Back to the internet!

Angel said...

Woolcott was the first place I ever bought yarn from myself- a weaver friend (who occasionally knit) took me there and I bought four skeins of purple wool yarn for a scarf. I never finished the scarf btw- kind of like your sweater. (the first project I ever finished was a hat in the round- I think a hat makes better beginner knitting in the round- you learn circular knitting, decreases, and dealing with double points.)

I loved woolcott- I miss the coziness of that store in the square.

sahara said...

Wow, there's hope.

Gosh, I have to think about the first time I went to a yarn store for myself. Does Woolworth's count?

amysue said...

Woolcott's in Cambridge and Putting on the KNitz in West NEwton were my first shops! I still duck into Woolcott's when I can and am thrilled that Sean will be there!

LornaJay said...

Dolores will probably feel better with Green Chartreuse rather than OJ. It may not improve the cold, but she will feel better....

Cynthia said...

Aren't the editors of Knitter's and The Economist the same people?

My first yarn shop experience was wonderful--I was told that knitting was easy, color changes simple and spent way too much money. Thanks Lee for making me think this addiction was easy, it kept me going.

Anonymous said...

I want to be Dolores when I grow up. Does she take apprentices?

edie said...

Hey, Franklin. I seem to be developing a bad habit: at knitting events, I find myself staying up late in my hotel room reading your blog. I gave it up non-essential internet use for Lent, but here I am again.

Cheers from Oakland!

Jena the yarn harpy said...

Having been into Woolcott recently myself, I can vouch for some major recent improvements. Good job, Sean! :)

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