Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Each One Teach Twelve

Glorious Comrades:

Let none among you say I am not doing my bit to increase the tribe. About a month ago, I was asked if I'd teach knitting to my colleagues in the office. I kid you not. Once per quarter, we're herded into a room together for an afternoon class of some kind. This time, they decided it would be fun to play with yarn. And who am I to argue with that?

However, I firmly declined to teach basic knitting to a crowd 35 people, many of whom have no interest in the subject. I said I'd take on a dozen–and they had to volunteer to be there. I can imagine few chores more thankless than trying to frogmarch an unwilling horde through the longtail cast-on.

And so we assembled last week in a sunny room looking out to the lake. A funeral and a sick child reduced the class to ten. Everyone sat down with a ball of bulky Louët Riverstone and a pair of US 10 bamboo needles,* and about an hour later everybody had cast on and done at least a row or two of garter stitch.

This was my first time leading a group, and I was fascinated by the differences among the students. I'd divide them roughly into three categories.
  1. This is interesting, but... Comprised about a third of the students. Will probably never pick up the needles again. I'd like to think it's not the fault of my teaching. It's certainly not because I lack evangelical zeal. They were all politely enthusiastic, but when the opportunity to break for cookies presented itself they took off–and didn't take their (free!) yarn and (free!) needles with them.

  2. Hey, this isn't half bad... The majority reaction. Pressed on through the terror of casting on and the first, tentative row of stitches to reach a point where they were knitting without dropping, adding, or holding onto their needles like Dubya clinging to the last shreds of his authority.

  3. St Paul on the Road to Damascus. One student, an absolute beginner. Fumbled the cast-on once or twice. Then, as though she'd been kissed by the spirit of Elizabeth Zimmerman, knit about seven perfect rows and could not stop. When it could no longer be denied that class was over and it was time to go back to work, she looked positively stricken. "I don't want to," she whimpered. "I just want to knit. I don't want to do anything else. It's not fair."
Remember the first time you said that?

Honest to goodness, I don't know to feel about her. It may be that she'll always remember me as the fellow who ushered her into a world of limitless creative possibility. Alternatively, she may remember me as the reason she's in rehab, couples therapy, or credit counseling.

Mercury Is a Punk-Ass Chump

Nothing too exciting on the needles at present. I'm afraid even to touch the christening shawl, considering my abysmal track record over the past several weeks. I've never been much of one for astrology, but the idea of a Mercury retrograde* screwing up my knitting seems downright logical. I mean, the problem can't possibly be me.

Against all odds, I've finished the Earth Mother socks and they look fine. They aren't exciting, but they fit and they match. Right now, that feels like Achievement.

On the other hand, the Mystery Square has been frogged. Again.

The altar cloth? Ripped back to the start of the Endless Knot pattern. Again.

Will somebody please tell me when Mercury is going to get its ass back in gear? Will it be soon? Or should I just give up and start blogging about découpage and popsicle-stick birdcages?

*Thanks to our outfitters at
Arcadia Knitting.

*Thanks to commenter Tamar for telling me about this. If you're one of the 5,000 people who needs an e-mail from me, that's Mercury's fault, too. Also, Mercury made me eat a lot of peanut M & Ms last night, and hid my laundry detergent. And my dishwasher.

42 comments:

Cindy G said...

That is so exactly my experience in every class I've ever taught! (not that many, but several). I love the students who learn the basics one week and come in with a completed project they have designed themselves the next. OK, the project may be a headband or basic rectangle folded into a little purse, but they did it all by themselves and you know they are hooked forever. (dancing and glee on the part of the teacher)

cindi said...

You did a good thing. And, while I probably didn't do the math correctly, if everyone taught 12 people to knit and only 1 of those 12 became an Actual Knitter, there would be 24,101,941 knitters in America, and 526,342,708 knitters world-wide. (this based on most recent projections of the U.S. and world populations multiplied by .08).

This would in turn justify my stash, as the world would certainly run out of yarn.

And yes, as a matter of fact, I do have too much time on my hands today. As does the person who will, no doubt, check my math.

Jeremy said...

March 8. Mercury finally ends His little retrograde tantrum on March 8.

Thank god. Just in time for my birthday on the 9th.

CatBookMom said...

It must feel so great to have inspired one and tempted others. A couple of the less-experienced knitters in my charity knitting group have asked me to teach them things. Eeekkk! Is there a class for teaching how to teach knitting? A book?

Stephannie said...

That Mercury dude gets around eh? My knitting time is either non-existent or sucks, I have mice in the house and I'm drowning in work.

I like having something to blame...

IRV said...

I could just squeeze your little cheeks. Well done!

M-H said...

Mercury is retrograde? Maybe that's why I'm sitting with my foot up in an enormous bandage and have months of PT to look forward to, having stumbled on the way back from the sandwich shop at lunchtime and snapped my achilles tendon. [sigh] And, strangely, the idea of lots of knitting time doesn't make the crutches any easier to manage.

Yarngineer said...

mmm...mercury must be causing me to keep eating potato chips the last few days.

Credit counseling indeed! :)

Knitting Addict said...

WTG, Franklin -- there can never be too many of us in the world!!!! But a dozen!! My Lord, that was ambitious, even 10, would have been way too many for me to tackle!!

Hey, you've not mentioned Dr. Will for a while -- how is the good doctor doing with his knitting?

And Mercury! OF COURSE!! That has got to by my problem too!! Wonder how far that will get me?? Think you can talk to my husband for me? He will believe YOU! ::gg::

David said...

I may have been counted among the first group, but I still would have kept the free needles and yarn.

The only Mercury I care about right now is the kind in the thermometer.

Angie said...

Good job, Franklin. But that's now at least 2 for you, this new person and the handsome Dr, right??? How could I forget the handsome Dr.

Ted said...

Aha!! Mercury retrograde. That explains why I'm ready to quit my job and strangle 5 people, and want to sit at home --with the door locked and the phone turned off-- and spin and knit all day.

And how is the knitting doctor doing?

Anonymous said...

Well, we might all need to hang on a little longer than March 7, when Mercury changes direction. Apparently the effect, though strongest when it's in retrograde, can last to some degree until it's full return, "The greatest likelihood for Mercury mishaps is in the actual retrograde period, but issues associated with this cycle may start as early as January 30and may not be resolved until March 28."

Don't mean to be negative but maybe we all want to hold off on that lace project. A few more weeks of garter, then ease into st st, gradually work back to lace.

Whaledancer said...

Mercury has made me take naps and eat an entire batch of diet chocolate pudding myself. Dang that Mercury..

Carson said...

LOL at "mercury in retrograde".
My mother, a flaky old baby boomer hippie, uses that as her explanation for any woe of the world. All I can say is mercury seems to be in perpetual retrograde.
And I'd wish you'd frogmarch me into a long tail cast on! I still don't get it *sigh*

farm-witch said...

March 7, my dear, is when the obstinant little planet APPEARS to turn back around - though astrologers warn that it has a 'tail' that can often whip around at the supposed end and make you take your crayons and write 'mama' all over your walls. The thing is, this little attention seeking planet isn't even really going backwards. It just APPEARS (don't you love that) to be that way. What a lot of fuss and disaster over some freaky little ball in space!

Persevere....and convert.

Helen said...

Now I understand my life.
freakin' Mercury...
It also managed to tell bloglines that an incredible number of posts here were new. I check often... I just KNEW you hadn't updated, much less WRITTEN 23 blog entries since lunch!

Gail said...

Great photo of Franklin at KnittyBlog. Great sweater.

Mel said...

A backup plan, perhaps, for when the career with Falcon Films goes south?

Suzie said...

Well, I taught two at work and they are still knitting. Progress is slow though, as both hold on so tight that every now and then I pry these little cramped fingers from the needles, telling them to relax, this is knitting. They will get it one day, hopefully.

=Tamar said...

You have the Power! Teaching even through a MercRx, wow! MercRx makes all kinds of communications difficult. Even internal; my good sense just can't get through to my id, which keeps going for the munchies. I haven't noticed the "tail" effect though; after midnight at the end of March 7, March 8 should be better. I'm not starting anything complicated before then, not after what I just noticed in the checkbook.
signed, another flaky old baby boomer hippie...

Jo said...

Mercury retrogrades are the bane of my life!(See Sun in Sag conjuct Mercury) It's like talking through a filter which translates perfectly clear directions into Swahili...to people in Dallas!

WTG with the newbie! As for how you should feel about her...Hell, ADOPT her! :)

Teyla said...

Franklin
See teaching your co workers how to knit. That is very cool! That is how I learn. My very skilled german co worker. Who has been knitting since diapers. So she can't understand what all the fuss is about.

The quote unquote offical mercury retrograde ends march 7th. But the effects can continue for up to 2 wks afterwards. The purpuse of this one was for attitude adjustment time, so use common sense to find common ground. So take note and prepare for the future. The next retrograde for mercury is June 15th-July 9th (which is clarifying those unspoken bonds with your family of origins helps to mend old wounds.) and Oct 11th-Nov 1st (we get challeneged to rely on our own instincts bringing depth and determination to relational affairs)

LindaK said...

Oh Franklin...you are a breath of fresh air. I would gladly and willingly take a knitting class from you and if I could sit next to Dolores...bonus points! :)

LauraJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LauraJ said...

/www.celestialweather.com/ftp/current.html
In short, Mercury will be going forward again next week, and about bloody time.

Unfortunately I don't _think_ you can blame the M&M's or the dishwasher on the planets. (What would the planet of gluttony be? Jupiter?).
They are, however, entirely the reason I am in a vile mood and nothing to do with my housemate being in Hawaii, my most happily married friend being in Puerto Rico with his wife, and my kid being in Rome, with Sicily next week and Cairo the week after. Nah, I love two-week old snow drifts.

Snarled Yarns said...

I hear your ecperience. I taught a lady to knit and purl one night, 2 weeks later she was doing fair isle.
Just blew me out of the water.

Joy said...

I've been knitting potholders since Mercury went retrograde. And not even *good* potholders! Of course that doesn't matter, since I am living in a place (up in the Indian Himalayas) where potholders of any kind appear to be unknown so knitting my own is the only solution. Franklin, as a Buddhist knitter yourself, you might have fun checking out my blog at www.customjuju.com/joy/joyblog - I'm up here in a small village that's a major pilgrimage point for Tibetan Buddhists living and working with the refugees, especially the yogis and nuns living and meditating in the caves on top of the mountain. Lots of pictures from the New Years are up.
Everyone here knits for survival!
Joy
Rewalsar, H.P., India

judy c. said...

I may have to blame Mercury myself as I fell off a chair at work...dont ask what I had been doing standing on a table..and have sprained my right wrist so no knitting for your commuting friend for a while. I think the class sounded just right and you can be proud of yourself.

See you on the train some time.

Anonymous said...

Silly! you already have a christening shawl from before! or did you give it to someone? sue f

brin said...

Mercury! I knew it was something! Three emergency surgeries in my family, including my own. A relationship break up. A band break up. A fight with a friend. Horrible zit on my nose. And then I decide to knit a couple toques to calm down but don't swatch... could I be asking for it any more?!

marie in florida said...

that same day; here in florida; a teenager on the bus had NO idea what i had in my hand. i answered "making socks" and she asked what's that called?
keep on teachin'!

Mary Lynn said...

Mercury metrograde will explain why I am in tier 22 of a 28 tier entrelac scarf and have been for a week . . . stupid scarf . . . oops, there it goes again. It may also explain why my 12 year old (90 pound) daughter ripped the storm door off the garage yesterday in her dash to catch the bus.

I find teaching exhausting. Especially so when people sign up for something and then aren't terribly interested . . . WTF. We did seminars at work once every six weeks. The only seminars that were adequately attended were the ones where we fed them. I preferred the ones where no food was provided because I knew those people were really interested.

Deborah C. said...

Mercury in retrograde explains why I'm still knitting on the same sock for over a week now!

I had the same experience teaching my eldest daughter's Brownie troop to knit - 3 or 4 of them tried it and handed back the needles and yarn after the meeting, most of them got themselves knitting by the end, and one of them came up to me at the next meeting with a completed rectangle and asked what came next... it was so rewarding!

Rosi G. said...

I was chosen at work to teach 2 people also. That was in November. The group is now 46 people AND GROWING. They've reserved one of the rooms on the conference floors FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR, every Thursday at lunch. 1 pm. It's exciting. But shit I had to recruit a couple of others to help me with this mob!

Since everything where I work (The Greatest Law Firm In The World aka Skadden Arps) is "Skaddenized", I christened the class SkadKnit. :D

I also have two students that took off like the wind and refuse to put down the needles.

Isn't it a wonderful feeling to see the monster you've created?!

KniTdds said...

Those lucky schmucks. Free yarn, free needles, and Franklin-educated?
Well, I think we all identify with your favorite student anyway . . .:)
Just wondering. . .how many boys in the group? I know there are boys who knit, 'cause I see them online, but I've never actually MET one.

junior_goddess said...

Oh...I've had the experience of the semi-apologetic....they tend to be authorities in their field, and they struggle to master a new skill. This requires them to justify EVERYTHING that's happening.

BTW, because we've just started the lunar New Year, there are several things out of whack. If you clean too thoroughly, you will sweep your good luck out the door!

(THAT is justification~!)

The Knitting Idiot said...

After seeing you have 37 other comments I almost hate to leave one, but being the shit bird I am, I am going to. Will the crappy knitting stop? Yes, give it time. It always comes back. Find something very simple, garter stitch. Please no bird houses!

FiberQat said...

We'll start worrying about you when you start making those potholders out of cheap polyester on those looms you got as a kid and draping them over your altar.

Mercury retrograde. Feh. All it does is turn your words into meaningless babble. Saturn retrograde, now that's one nasty boy. Not that I believe in any of that (crossing my fingers).

(my word is snarzc. Is that a sign?)

alice said...

A year and a half ago, I knit some baby socks for a colleague who was expecting. Another colleague was so impressed by them (they were rather adorable, if I must say so myself!), and asked me to teach her to knit, so she could knit socks. One pair of Fuzzy Feet and half a pair of socks later (and a trip to Rhinebeck), and she was staying up all night to finish a pair of socks in time to give them to her best friend for Christmas. It's a great feeling.

Holly Bernice Cox said...

Hum ..I think she'll be a yarn addict soon but think of what she'll save .Mum never buys clothes for herself , never cares much about a social life unless yarn is involved and I would agree had I not decided I prefer to sew.

Laurainalameda@pacbell.net said...

Did St. Paul take the needles and yarn left by the losers who didn't love knitting? Just saying. If I saw yarn being unapreciated...