This week's column is dedicated to John Pinette.
Since I am once again barred from the kitchen after the sauerkraut reenactment of the London Blitzkrieg of 1940, I needed something to do with my time. Stij suggested that I take up a craft of some sort.
And I said, “Why not?”
After a ten-minute bout of exhaustive research, I decided on knitting. It seemed to be nothing more than knot-tying with needles. No problem.
I drove to the local yarn store and walked in with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. The color! The textures! Oh, this was going to be great!
“May I help you?”
I turned to face the quintessential grandmother-type who I just knew had been knitting amazing sweaters the day after leaving the womb.
“I hope so. I want to learn to knit.”
She regarded me with a gimlet eye. “You look familiar to me. Do I know you?”
“I don’t think so.”
“I know I’ve seen you before. Where do you live?”
“We just moved into a new house, but I used to live at 666 Aleister Crowley Avenue.”
Her kindly face hardened into something resembling Mount Rushmore—and not in a good way. “Ah, yes, the kitchen bomber. I live across the street from your former crater.”
“Oh. Have they filled it in yet?” I didn’t know what else to say.
“They were going to, but a huge colony of diamondback rattlesnakes moved in after you moved out in the middle of the night, and nobody’s been able to get within twenty feet of it. Did you know that rattlesnakes patrol their living area? They also come into houses through dog doors. I’ve lost three cats, one Shih-tzu, and fourteen hamsters so far.”
I hesitated to think what other wildlife she had in her house. Anyone owning more than one or two hamsters is someone to be regarded with suspicion and dread. I took a step back.
“Perhaps they were just culling the herd,” I said.
Shouldn’t have said that.
The air grew frosty. I was expecting granny to start speaking in tongues at any moment. Her eyeballs turned black. Her teeth elongated…then fell out at my feet.
“Damned dentures,” she muttered, picking them up and stuffing them back in. “I shall ignore your previous comment, and find someone with less animosity to wait on you. Oh, Mavis?”
Mavis tottered over. She was actually older than granny, who was pretty much past her expiration date already. I sighed.
“Yes, dear, how may I help you today?”
“I’ve decided to take up knitting.”
Her face went blank. “Is that so?” she asked in a dead monotone.
“Yes. I’d like to buy some yarn, needles, and a couple of knitting books for beginners.”
“Well, before you take up the art of knitting, we must be sure that it will fit in with your lifestyle, mustn’t we?”
“What do you mean?”
“I can’t be selling you our lovely yarns and imported knitting needles if I have the slightest inkling that once you get started, you may put it aside and neglect it. Knitting is for the committed, my dear.”
And you should be, I thought.
Evidently, the knitters have banded together and are making a concerted effort to keep out any but the best at the craft in a sort of creative snobbery similar to the reactions of art critics when someone, viewing a Jackson Pollack painting, once said, “Who can’t do that?”
“Look, is your stock for sale or isn’t it?”
“That depends, dear.” She pointed to a sign which read:
I refused to bite.
“I don’t care what you say to me. I’m purchasing needles and yarn, and if you won’t help me, I’ll just find what I need myself.”
She snorted, then patted my hand. “Good luck with that, dear.”
So I began my sojourn alone. The store seemed to go on for miles. Finally, I found the knitting books, with titles such as: Knitting a Cozy for Your House—12 Patterns from the Louvre; Irish Knit Ball Gowns; Renaissance Costumes to Knit Today; and Literature Knitting. I picked this last one up and thumbed through it.
It seems that it is actually possible to knit the entire text of Hamlet onto the back of a floor-length Drover coat, pattern included.
There were also some weird ones: Knit Your Own Maserati with Steel Wool; Crocheted Chandeliers; Lifelike, Full-size Farm Animal Patterns to Knit or Crochet; and the best one—Repair Your Sewer Lines—12 Circular Knitting Patterns.
There were no books for beginners. But that wouldn’t be a problem—I’d just order some from Amazon.
I drifted down aisle after aisle, amazed at all the different types of yarn on offer. Not only were they beautiful, but they were made of other things besides synthetics or sheep wool. Alpaca, llama, rabbit, goat, and silkworms were also represented.
Then it got strange...well, stranger.
I came upon an entire aisle of what they labeled, “Esoteric Yarns.”
These were yarns created from the fur/hair of gerbils, guinea pigs, horses, cows, monkeys, cats, dogs (with a special Chihuahua section), bears, and armadillos (no idea how they got that, and don’t want to know). The only thing these yarns have in common is that they stink to high heaven when they get wet.
I glanced up the aisle to see the covey of superannuated sales crones laughing their asses off.
I grabbed three skeins of the nearest yarn a pair of medium sized knitting needles, charged up the aisle, and threw money at them as I streaked by and out the door.
I turned out that I had purchased ultra-fine three-toed tree sloth yarn. It’s been sitting around all week, and for some reason, I’m really not motivated to do much with it.