I know–everything built up to a shattering climax on the twelfth day of Christmas and then I fell silent.
This was not my intention. I have buckets to share with you. Buckets. Alas, every time I sat down to show you my bucket, something would happen. I would smell smoke, or ominous noises would emanate from the plumbing. Or I would realize it was time to go to Montana.
Yes, Montana. I went to Wild Purls* in Billings for two days, to sign copies of the little book and to teach a class on Elizabeth Zimmermann's Tomten Jacket. I was excited about both events, but especially excited about the teaching. I was so exceedingly excited about the teaching that every time I imagined myself in the classroom I'd get short of breath and throw up.
As some of you know, my dear sister is a teacher. At a shockingly young age, she has already racked up years of experience in the field. She is my authority in Matters Pedagogical. I asked her whether wanting to throw up in front of the class was normal. She said yes. I asked her what to do about it. She said, don't throw up.
Thus armed with sage advice, I landed in Billings and was welcomed warmly by the crew of Wild Purls, who were wearing...
"Knitting Becomes a Habit" commemorative tour t-shirts. I was floored. I felt like Madonna, or Cher, or Barbra, or somebody else that people in this neighborhood dress like on Friday night. Quite a boost to my confidence.
The book signing was a hoot. I met all sorts of knitters, including one very young (hi, Chloë!) and an aspiring cartoonist who reminded me of myself as a child, back in the days when they had just invented lead pencils.
But I was still nervous. Seven hours is a long maiden voyage as a knitting teacher, and a quick survey at 9 o'clock revealed that among the twenty-odd students:
- only two had previously grappled with an Elizabeth Zimmermann pattern,
- one of those was an extremely experienced knitter who had already made the Tomten countless times and probably knew much more about it than I,
- only four or five had ever done two-color work,
- and two were knitters so newly-minted they were still under warranty.
In Montana, the pioneer spirit persists. These were rugged knitters. They rose to every challenge I threw at them with good humor and determination, which gave me the confidence to keep going. I may have appeared to be leading, but I felt that a good deal of the time they carried me aloft.
Nobody gave up, and at the end of the day came a crowning moment of delight: one of the new knitters, who hadn't even worked increases before that afternoon, successfully grafted the two halves of her hood together. She was beaming, and I wanted to tap dance.
Such a day. Honestly, I was sad to leave the next morning. I find that I have fallen in love with Montana. Billings is a remarkably pleasant place with incomparably down-to-earth people and a first-class yarn shop. Julia, Suzanne, Linda, Judy, Johanna, Irene and all of you who were good enough to come out for the events: a thousand thanks, and I can't wait to see you again.
Special thanks to Joseph, Suzanne's husband and a fine photographer, who took the photos and gave them to me to use. Next time, dude, we have to remember to talk about your collection of vintage cameras.
*Not to be missed when you visit is the special selection of local yarns, including Mountain Colors (of course) and splendid organics from Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Company. They also have their own shop-exclusive colorway from Lorna's Laces.