Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Each One, Teach One, Finale

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.

"Yes."

"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?"

Pause.

"No."

Sigh.

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!"

"What?"

"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 Knitting
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.

79 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yep, me too. It's a grand hobby, I'm told.

Anonymous said...

It is always gratifying to have a resourceful pupil.

I see over at Jean's that it is your birthday. I hope it is a lovely one and many happy returns.

rosesmama

Anonymous said...

I have used other things besides a crochet hook to pick up a dropped stitch but have to say that I've never thought of using a fondue fork! Clever man.

You know he isn't really hooked until he starts talking about his stash.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Willibald!!!

Happy Birthday, Franklin!!!

Anonymous said...

Excellent work! Praise to both student and teacher. You know, Franklin, with this one the student may just surpass the teacher...

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Willibald!

Happy Birthday Franklin! I hope this new year of yours is the best yet.

Lucinda said...

He's not hooked. Nope, not at all. Just like he didn't have an excellent teacher.

Happy Birthday!

& Congrats to Willibald on his first finished objects! They look fabulous!

Sarah said...

Well done Franklin, excellent contribution to the seduction of all non-knitters to the Way of the Yarn!

And congratulations to Willibald for creating such attractive first garments. He's a natural.

Is it your birthday? Have a fabulous day!

Ruth said...

The man is a natural. Well done.

Carol said...

I hope "Willibald" reads your blog. His first FOs are beautiful and he should be proud. Wow, a natural knitter AND he saves lives every day.

Um, I'm off to empty the dishwasher. (skulking)

p.s. Hey, Franklin, isn't it your birthday around now?

Sarah R said...

Happy birthday, Franklin!

A fondue fork?! I love it. (I usually just use the needles I'm working on. A crochet hook just seems too fiddly.)

Lovely finished objects. Oh, yeah. Willibald can stop anytime (just one more row), anytime he wants (wait a minute, almost done), there's no problem at all (let me just cast on a sock).

Anonymous said...

Despite all the trouble getting started and all the hostility with purls and whatnot, I think it's pretty clear that you have yourself a bona fide knitter. Only a true knitter would be so driven to finish a project and figure out the problem standing in his way that he would use whatever implement possible (be it a fondue fork or something else) to pick up the stitch.

I think kudos are due the teacher of this new knitter!

The Purloined Letter said...

Go, Willibald!

Chris said...

Those are his first FOs?! That scarf is precision perfect - wow!

*makes mental note of fondue fork tip*

Jennifer in Oak Park said...

Happy Birthday Franklin.

Great job Willibald. Jennifer in Oak Park

Szarka said...

I expect to see Willibald's design for entrelac socks in the next issue of Interweave.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!
Your blog is a delight:)

Sandra said...

Way to go Willibald!
Happy birthday Franklin - dare I ask what Dolores wrapped up for you? (and do you dare open it...)

Rachel H said...

The man is clearly meant to be a knitter. Excellent teaching, my friend. And excellent learning, Willibald. I look forward to your future accomplishments!

KellyD said...

Hippo birdies two ewes Franklin!! And many more! 27? right?

Anonymous said...

Very nice. Congratulations, sensei. Now he just needs a blog.

Anonymous said...

Ooops, and a very happy birthday as well!

Cathy said...

You must be very proud at the accomplishments of your student.

Though probably not as proud as your student is at fixing his own problems!

Well done!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Franklin!

Congratulations to Willibald. Franklin, you must be a good and patient teacher. I tried to teach a neighbor to knit. Thought I had done a pretty good job. A few days after I had sent her home with some supplies I found the tangled skein and needles on my front porch. It's hard to teach someone something that is initially so frustrating.

Anonymous said...

Finally, I can comment! Blogger was being mean last night.
And all I wanted to say was that Willibald's stitches look so even. I guess we should expect that from a surgeon, but still. He's off to a very impressive start.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday and congrats to your teaching skills and Willibald's efforts!

My son's math teacher says knitting is a dying art--ha!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Franklin-

Sending you a mental yarn bouquet with a dozen skeins of chunky merino atop ebony needles. Best regards; I truly enjoy reading your blog.

Congrats on Willibald, he sounds like he was an apt pupil with the right teacher.

MJ said...

YEAH! a new knitter is born!
I love a happy ending!

Anonymous said...

So when is he doing his first sock and sweater ??? Definitely a natural, but that's how it is with knitting, isn't it? It makes no sense then *CLICK* you've got it. Willibald does a fantastic job, hope to see a blog soon.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, hope Delores doesn't frighten you with her gift? What did Harry get you? :D

doulicia said...

and you know? I like the grays.

noricum said...

Those FOs are lovely. Congratulations to both student and teacher!

CeeCee said...

Happy Birthday, Franklin!

karin said...

It's January 24th.
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday, dear Franklin,
Happy Birthday to you!

Sarah said...

Happy birthday! And congratulations to Willibald -- he is clearly a born knitter, being a surgeon was just "training." How soon are you going to have him hooked on spinning?

Geogrrl said...

Bwahahaha! He HAS been assimilated.

I identify with both you and Willibald. I get angry with myself if I don't master something right away. At the same time, if it kicks my butt, I get obsessive about mastering it.

Does that point to some kind of personality disorder? If so, too late.

Lee Ann said...

Happy birthday, sweetpea.

Jenna said...

Ummm - knitting in the car, and altering patterns. Yeah, he'll quit tomorrow. Honest. So am I, as soon as I perfect this sock pattern. Then I'll look for a properly fitting hat in my colours in the store...

Anonymous said...

They say it's your birthday! I hope you have a party, lots of presents and a cake! Happy 35 :)

Anonymous said...

Congrats on birthing a new knitter!

Happy birthday to you, Franklin. Here's to making the rest the best...

Anonymous said...

Franklin - Happy BIRTHDAY today! You look way younger than your 36 years. Many, many, many more.

anne marie in philly said...

happy birthday dear franklin
happy birthday to uuuuuuuuuuuuuu!

willibald's first projects ARE impressive.

january birthdays - rabbitch, sean, you; good things come in 3s.

I shudder to think about dolores' contribution to your natal day - she pops naked out of a cake....(screams at THAT image)

Stacy said...

Happy Birthday Franklin - Keep Spreading The Word!

I hope you join The Harlot one day and write a book. And then they can make a movie out of it....(I think Bruce Willis would be a fine choice to play you. Maybe Cybil Shepherd can play Dolores!)

Vicky in Vancouver said...

Bonne fete a vous!
(toi?)
(non, vous)

Anonymous said...

Franklin,

Happy Birthday!

What a lovely birthday gift to have such a talented and interested student like Willibald. Well done, teacher and student.

Rosane.

cheryl :) said...

it's Wednesday and it's a Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday dear FRANKLIN happy birthday to you......

:)

pamela said...

nice edging

jeanne said...

Oh, Willibald,

They're beautiful! Two shades of grey - so classic.

Well done.

Erica said...

"I smiled quietly. Knitting in the car. Most promising."

Reminds me of Yoda. Obi-Won-Franklin.

Anonymous said...

thye look very very well made! KUDOS!

Anonymous said...

Well done, Willibald, and well done, Franklin's parents and every person and other being associated with Franklin's fantastic self!

According to Wikipedia, this is the day that the Beatles recorded "Maggie Mae," the first day that the Department of Homeland Security began operation, the birthday of Faranelli, Oral Roberts, Ernest Borgnine, Neil Diamond, Michael (ohmygodsocute) Ontkean, Warren Zevon, John Belushi, Nastassja Kinsky, and the death day of Caligula, Winston Churchill, Larry Fine of the Three Stooges, and Ted Bundy.

Franklin, you _saved_ this day.

Ruth said...

Well done Willibald!

and Happy Birthday Franklin :)

brewerburns said...

Me too. I can stop anytime I want. Dammit.

Trope said...

Happy, happy, happy birthday, Franklin! I see you're laying low today--wise, in case Dolores pops out of a cake in a too-small dress. (How is her singing voice, by the way?) Hope you're celebrating.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Franklin! I hope Dolores, Harry and the rest of the sock yarn threw you a party (and that we get to hear all the sordid details thereof).

Congratulations, Willibald! Those are some mighty fine first projects. Just wait until you discover the Manly Art of cabling...

marie in florida said...

oh, hey! i really like two shades of grey.

sweetfigs said...

... and he didn't even have to go to prison to learn how to knit.

I hope you had the happiest of birthdays!

Anonymous said...

Well, "fun" is really a relevent term now, isn't it? I'd say those are some pretty successful first FOs. Clearly the result of expert tutelage...

Teyla said...

Happy Birthday Franklin

Anonymous said...

WOW-Willibald is like the MacGyver of newbie knitting. Happy Birthday.

Tallguy said...

Hey-- Happy Birthday, Big Guy!!

Heidi said...

Nice Work Willibald, there's no stopping you now!

Hippo birdie two ewe, Franklin.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Franklin!

Sean shares my first lover's birthday and you share the day we first met some 22 years ago. Should be easy for me to remember from now on.

Hope you got everything you wanted!

Elinor said...

Sweet! Congrats to everyone. They look simply splendid. And Happy Birthday.

Anonymous said...

Hooray! Celebration! Congrats on getting him through it without killing him!

Molly said...

Cheers to my Birthday Twin!! I hope you get in lots of uninterrupted knitting time!

MonicaPDX said...

Hurray, Willibald! (You know, that poor man is never gonna live that name down...) Happy Birthday Franklin! Congrats to you both, teacher and pupil. Beautiful work, Willibald. Ok, so who gets the toaster? Er, I mean yarn.

And now, nosy minds want to know - what colors did he get for his second project? [g]

NeedleTart said...

Happy Birthday, Teacher!

Anonymous said...

I wish I knew your e-mail address, Franklin, so I could wish you a happy birthday without being a comment hog. Hope you have a great day.

Anonymous said...

I wish I knew your e-mail address, Franklin, so I could wish you a happy birthday without being a comment hog. Hope you have a great day.

Josa Craft said...

Happy Birthday! Have an AMAZING year and thank you for the AWESOME blog!

Anonymous said...

wow! i am so impressed.

Kate said...

YAY for you both! This is brilliant and the hat is an impressive first finished object.

I don't think that knitting is about fun exactly - the impulse to keep trying to knit outside the comfort zone would be evidence of this - but it's awfully addictive!

Happy birthday, too!

Anonymous said...

Yay Willibald!

Carol said...

Yeah me too. Right after I stop reading blogs.

TheBunny said...

Bravo Williband!

Anonymous said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Now all you need to do is teach him to spin!

HollyEQQ said...

You have the patience of a saint!
Holly

www.cordoba-3d.com said...

This will not have effect as a matter of fact, that's what I suppose.

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