Sunday, 10 July 2022

Teaching men to knit

is not the same as teaching women. I am sorry if some of you think there are no differences between the sexes but I find there are. Perhaps it is what societal expectations have been reinforced in them or perhaps it is something else but there are differences.

I went to a sort of "knit-a-thon" yesterday. My good friend L... suggested it and offered to transport me in both directions. I thought about Covid19 issues and then I thought about masks and hand sanitiser. Then I about just getting out and doing something for the fun of it and to help others. When did I last do something like that? Another good friend W... was also going. I was in for this!

I have been out of course - although cautiously - and I have have enjoyed myself. I have also been out to help others - and so I should. This event looked likely to combine the two.  What is more it was in support of a group of people I feel strongly about - the "deaf-blind". I looked at L...'s invitation and I thought of the man I met briefly at the last Show. He had come with his friend and interpreter. His interpreter had asked if this man could actually "see" our knitting by touching it. Of course we let him and what we were making was signed to him using the alphabet of the deaf-blind. I remember asking if I could say something to him and, guessing, I managed to say hello and ask him if he thought what we were doing was good. I also remember that slightly longer than usual grip on my fingers as he responded, his delight that someone else had "spoken" to him in a way he understood. It was sheer guesswork and good luck that I had managed to tell him anything intelligible. Even now I wonder what he got out of a visit to the Show which is, for most people, an intense aural/visual experience. 

It was that as much as anything which made me decide this was an event well worth attending. It was too.

The event was run as a sort of competition - seeing who could knit the most squares from the wool available between 11am and 3pm. There was a short lunch break. There were other "events" during the day too. 

I am not a fast knitter.  There was no way I was going to knit more squares than anyone else. So, knowing there were going to be some new knitters there, I offered to help as well. I knew that would be as interesting - and it was. There were four male knitters there. Three were perfectly able to get on without help from me. The fourth male told me he had once tried in primary school - and that would have been more than twenty years before. His partner was also there and she was also a bit uncertain. I showed her how to cast on. Once that was done she could manage the knit stitch. The male and I then got together. He's an engineer by profession. That was useful to know. He had been watching me help his partner. He tried not too successfully to cast on. After four unsuccessful attempts we decided I would cast on his twenty stitches. After that he was much more confident. I think what worked was me explaining in great detail not only how the individual stitches are constructed but how they relate to each other. This seemed to suit his engineering brain.

"Got it!" he told me. Well, not quite but he was well on the way. I kept telling him, "Under, over, through and onto the other needle" for a bit. But yes, the relationship between the stitch on one row and the stitch on the row above and below is what he needed to know. He was thinking in single stitch units. It is the way I would expect my BIL to react and he is also an engineer. 

By the end of the afternoon's knitting he had done about eight rows. It didn't look much but it was really a lot. He had achieved a real skill. "I'm going to make sure I finish this square" he told me. 

It wasn't tidy but J... who will have the unenviable task of putting all those mismatched squares together told him, "And I will use it."

I came home with some of the yarn J....had wound off for people to knit their squares with and I will get a couple of people to help. They are very competent knitters. If I see the finished blanket though I will be looking for a square made by a newbie who used his engineering skills to understand the process.

Perhaps it was the engineering skills - but I often observe males doing things and I think they do approach things differently.

1 comment:

jeanfromcornwall said...

At Junior school, in the 1950's, we all learned to knit, and practiced on Friday afternoon's story time. I can't remember that there was any difference between boys and girls. My uncle knitted - he was a seaman and they have long been capable knitters. I remember him proudly showing me his latest project - a Norwegian sweater - lusekofte - my father was very sneery, but he could knit, and made a blanket for my dolls bed which lasted long enough for my children to play with it.