sitting in my in-box from someone who wants some help. There is nothing unusual about that. My in-boxes ( I have two - one for work and the other for play) are filled with such messages.
This one is in the play box and it concerns knitting. It comes from the previous owner of our indie. She is making her daughter a pair of gloves, something she has never knitted before. Could she, I am asked, have some help now that she has reached the thumb?
Yes, I will help. This is the person who asked me to start and lead a knitting group in the local indie.
Knitting groups in bookshops are, I believe, not rare. Some branch of the late lamented Borders had knitting groups. There are knitting groups in other bookshops. Knitting and books go well together.
Our group performs a number of functions. We only meet once a month but we do it on a Tuesday afternoon.
The shop has big glass windows looking out onto the atrium of the shopping centre. People are going backwards and forwards all the time. They can look in and see us. We could, if we were not too busy, look back at them. People wander in to see what we are doing. Sometimes they do it openly and ask questions. Others prowl around the store (and sometimes buy something) while giving us covert glances. We have picked up two new group members like this.
Each time we meet we make a "gold coin donation" to the Fred Hollows Foundation. This worthy organisation performs eye-surgery in developing countries. We also make a blanket each year and raffle it off next to the craft books.
There are several members of the group for whom the monthly meeting is far more than "just a knitting group". They need extra support for one reason or another. Our numbers vary for the same reason. The woman whose husband has Alzheimer's was unable to attend last time as the person who sits with him was not able to do so. One woman leaves early to pick up children from school. The girl with the closed brain injury has to catch a bus.
I do not know whether this is what the previous owner had in mind when she suggested the group. Yes, raising a little money for the Fred Hollows Foundation was part of the scheme. No, it does not cost the shop anything to have the group there. We merely move two of the stands slightly closer together and borrow the chairs from the store kept by the shopping centre management. Members of the group sometimes buy craft books and other books as well. Other people may also buy books as a result. I watched last time and the shop was busy for a Tuesday afternoon.
There is a small social support network there now. There is another one at the library and for much the same reasons. I will learn something by helping the previous owner. Someone else will show the new sock knitter how to turn a heel and, next time, to graft the toe. We are not just knitting, we are knitting lives together.