Sunday, 27 November 2011

The "library group"

met for the last time yesterday - the last time this year. We will start again in January. We meet once a month. We knit and, because we meet in a library, we often talk about books and related matters.
There is nothing very intellectual about the group. They do not necessarily read prize winning novels, indeed I know most of them do not. They are more likely to talk about a new knitting book. Anything filed under the Dewey number 746.43 (knitting) is likely to interest them. Books in the surrounding areas of design, patchwork etc are also likely to interest them. Whenever we meet the shelves in that area will be relieved of some of their contents. This is a group which uses books.
I am struck by the difference between the members of this group and the members of the other knitting group I belong to. The other group is, supposedly, the premier knitting group in the state. The purpose of the group is supposed to be to further the art and craft of knitting. (For those of you who do not knit please believe me when I say knitting has a rich and varied history and there are many branches of the craft.) I am, for my sins, the librarian of this group. I buy the books and I try to keep the shelves tidy and keep an eye on the borrowing.
I growl when people try to breach copyright - something that was rife before I took over. I also despair. They want "pattern" books. They want books where they need do no more than follow the instructions and produce something that looks "just like the picture" - sometimes even down to the colour.
Of course there are a few who want technical books, who are adventurous and brave enough to strike out on their own. Most however lack the confidence for this. They should not. Many of them are skilled knitters. Even then some of them will say, "I can't do socks" or "I can't follow a chart" or "I have never got the hang of cables" and "I could never do lace".
I have tried all these things. I am wearing socks I made for myself right now. I can follow a chart - especially useful if you do not read something like Estonian or Icelandic. I can do cables and lace too. All the members of the library group would try any of these things. They know that they can get help from each other and from the books in the library.
I also know I still have a lot to learn about knitting. I have been knitting since I was about eight but, even if I lived to eight hundred, there would be more to learn. There would, I hope, always be books there that might help me - as well as people.
Some people obviously do not feel the need for this sort of information. They are happy and content with the way things are and with what they already know. I am not. I always want to know more.
Yesterday someone who had not been to the group before came and sat there. She did not say much although we tried to include her in the conversation. Someone showed her how to do something new. We also said, "You will come back when we start meeting again next year?" She nodded.
I went to borrow something else and found her at the shelves housing 746.43 and related material. She smiled at me and said,
"I did enjoy myself you know. I think I will like the group. You really use books and I wanted a group like that."
So did I. It will be good to have her there.

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