In Which Willibald Leaves the Chrysalis and Takes Flight
When last we saw him, my student Willibald was sitting on my couch trying to kill me with dirty looks as he struggled with his first swatch of purl stitches. I understood the fellow. He, like me, feels compelled to master anything, however difficult, with speed and ease. If this does not happen he gets angry with himself.
At such a time a cooling-off period is the best remedy. I knew his subconscious would keep on purling, and when he next gave it a go there'd be a marked improvement.
We ended the lesson, and I sent him home.
"You just need some practice," I reassured him. For the fortieth time.
"I'm doing this for fun. I'm not going to do this if it's not fun," he said. For the fortieth time.
It so happened that almost the next day Willibald left Chicago for the holidays, and so did I. In the spirit of optimism I'd given him a copy of The Knitting Answer Book and he promised to pack it along with his needles, yarn, and London Beanie pattern.
A good night's sleep stiffened his resolve, and he called from the East Coast to tell me he'd decided to just purlpurlpurlpurlpurl until he cracked it.
I waited expectantly for word, and when it came it surpassed my hopes.
"I finished the ribbing!" he crowed. Apparently he'd leapfrogged right over the swatch.
There were misplaced stitches here and there, but not enough to make him rip back. I wished him godspeed as he headed for the crown and his first encounter with multiple decreases.
Willibald's holidays were busy, but he called me to say he was sneaking in knitting here and there, even as he drove with friends from one destination to the next.
I smiled quietly. Knitting in the car. Most promising.
Sure enough, I got a message just before New Year's Eve. He'd jumped from the circular needle to the dpns without a hitch and could see the Promised Land. And then, another message.
"Call me! I need you! Emergency! Emergency!"
When he answered my ring, he was audibly distraught. On practically the last row, he discovered what he thought was a dropped stitch–several rows back. I smacked my forehead. I hadn't shown him how to pick one up. On the other hand, the fellow was a surgeon.
"Do you have your book there?" I asked.
"I'm sure you can follow the instructions for fixing a dropped stitch," I said. "It's simple. All you need is a crochet hook. Did you remember to pack your crochet hook?"
We decided he'd secure the rogue stitch with a safety pin and bring it to me after New Year's Day, and I'd show him how what to do. But his tone drooped. "I was so excited. I really wanted to wear it to my next lesson and surprise you," he said.
Poor fellow. I was still thinking about it two hours later, as I clicked along on a lace swatch. The telephone rang. It was Willibald. Shrieking.
"It's done! It's done! I picked up the dropped stitch and finished the hat and you can't even tell where the problem was! I did it! It's done!"
"But how did you–"
"In a pinch," he said proudly, "a fondue fork makes a decent substitute for a crochet hook."
Of course it does. Clever boy.
Since finishing his first hat Willibald has kept on trucking, altering the beanie pattern on his own to make a second hat in colors and proportions specfically requested by his partner–who is contentedly wearing the first one. He bought the yarn at Arcadia Knitting on his own, and had a chance to bask in the praise of the lovely ladies who'd sold him his first yarn.
Willibald's First Finished Objects
Of course, he keeps telling me it's still not fun yet. He swears he may just stop at any minute.
Yeah. Right. Me too.