Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Teaching knitting in the age of information

I was asked by a friend for help with a knitting project.  This is a new knitter (comparatively) and she was reaching beyond scarves.  She had picked a pattern online and was stuck at a slightly ambiguous instruction.  I got the pattern company and pattern name, I downloaded it, I printed it off. 

Then we got down to cases.  Where EXACTLY was she stuck?  Figured that out.  So then I walked her through the confusion step by step.  I did all this with her 50 miles from me sitting in her house and I in mine.  On Facebook chat.

To me, this is an incredible thing.  I went to college.  I took "Computer Programming and Statistics".  Never in my wildest DREAMS would I expect to chat to my friends (anywhere in the WORLD).  Never did I think I would solve knitting dilemmas on chat.

Now I grant you, we DID set up a knitting fun day at the same time.  We're meeting and having a fiber fest in a couple of weeks.  Nothing takes the place of being in the same room, but when you are stuck it's kind of nice to have a knitting instructor on your computer.

I was perusing Ravelry today.  How many really nifty patterns are on there?  Millions, I'll bet.  Did those geeks, sitting in their garages and the basement computer labs in the 80's really imagine that their nifty personal computers would allow me to access shawl patterns from NORWAY (available in six languages)?  I'll bet they didn't.  I'll bet they didn't know how we would turn their invention to our own use.

It's kind of like making a shawl or a quilt for someone as a gift and then going to their house and seeing it used as a tablecloth, couch cover or a dog bed (I've seen all three).  You are shocked, but you gave it to them, and they use it as they see fit.

Sorry Mr. Jobs, Mr. Wozniak, and Mr. Gates.  We took your beautiful work and used it to spread knitting propaganda.  We used your gorgeous creation, not to launch rockets, but as a metaphorical tablecloth.  However, in the process we are creating beauty and keeping idle hands busy.  We are spending hours making lovely gifts that will be used as picnic blankets.  We understand.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Jerome's Sock

I was thinking the other day about Jerome's Sock.  It's always capitalized, always.  Here goes.

Once, when I was teaching a sock knitting class at a local yarn shop, I had a student, Mary, who was knitting a pair of socks to surprise her husband, Jerome.

We were about halfway through the four weeks of class, and one evening just as I was getting ready to leave for class, my phone rang.

“Hello, this is Andrew from Alaska Airlines.  This is going to sound strange, but your business card was found in a bag of knitting on one of our flights.”


“There was also a note in the bag that says ‘Jerome 10 ½ inches’.  There is a lot of needles in there, it sort of looks like it might be a sock?  We know you were not a passenger, but I wondered…”

The penny finally dropped.  Jerome!  Oh heavens!  I told Andrew that the knitting was not mine, but one of my students.  Could I come and get it?  (I live very close to the airport)  I certainly could, as Andrew really didn’t want to be responsible for all those needles and Jerome’s Sock for any longer than necessary.

Now, I had visions of Mary getting home from her flight and ransacking her luggage looking for her errant sock… what could I do?  I called the yarn shop and asked for Mary’s number.  Got it!

Called Mary’s house and (oh dear) Jerome answered.  Mary wasn’t home, but was expected at any moment.  I explained to Jerome that Mary had left her knitting on the airplane and that I was going to collect it from Alaska Airlines and bring it to class with me.  A Confused Jerome agreed to pass on the message.

A rush to the airport and the lost luggage desk at Alaska, thanking them profusely for not chucking the mass of needles and ersatz sock.  (I wrote them a nice note after and I hope Andrew got a brownie point)  Then flying to class and returning Jerome’s Sock to its rightful owner. The socks were completed, and Jerome was surprised.  How many Airlines, or airline employees would take the time to do this?  Not very many.  Thanks Andrew.

Lesson learned, I always keep my business card in all project bags.  Thanks Alaska Airlines and Andrew for recognizing the importance of Jerome’s Sock!