Archive for April 27th, 2009

One evening last week I went to a parents’ evening at Child One’s school. I will freely admit that I did this largely because I expected them to say many wonderful things about her, and to a much lesser extent to be reassured that there were no unnoticed hiccups in the transition to secondary school. Also I think it marginally handy to show your face when all is well, as you give yourself a little credit to play with if you ever need to go storming down there in a strop.

I am also a prudent and forward-planning person so I did what no other parent in the place seemed to do: I armed myself with four pointed sticks and a ball of wool. Knitters are smart. Boy, are they ever smart. There are definitely places and times where (much as I adore reading) a book just won’t work. You know: it’s noisy; you have stupidly tiny amounts of time that are barely sufficient to find your place on the right page never mind actually read anything; you have to keep your eye on the rate at which the parents in front of you are vacating the teacher’s chair…

So picture if if you will: all the other parents are there, in fretful state, looking at their watches and mumbling, and I’m sitting (or standing as often as not, as room layout dictates), and I’m perfectly serene, because I have my socks with me. Also, granted, I’m serene because I’m hearing wall-to-wall “what a delightful girl; what a pleasure to teach; how clever she is; top of the class in this, that and the other…” Nachas, and knitting. What could be better?

I know there are people out there – even knitters – who eschew socks. But this is their true forte (apart from when they are completed, and snugly traveling the world, fitted perfectly aboard your feet): they have genius levels of portabilty. I put it to you, what could be better? The needles are short (I defy you to be carrying a bag too small for them to fit into), and it is almost impossible for the entire project to weight more than four ounces. Quite plausibly, only two. Also I should add that apparently nothing is going to be quite as fascinating to the general non-knitting public. I might as well have been giving a fire-eating demonstration. (For this part, I think DPN’s have the edge over circular needles: they look weirder).

All evening the grim-faced were sidling over and having variants on the same conversation. “Good idea,” they’d say. “What’s that: knitting?” (Yup, knitting). “What y’knitting, then? Oh, OK. Big project, I hope? You’ll have finished by the time this ends.” Mercifully, it was a context where no-one informed me that they came cheaper at Tesco’s, because it was patently obvious to even the dimmest that this was a whole lot more fun than going to Tesco’s would be, and co-taskable (?) with parent’s evening. Generally they’d say something like, “what a good idea. I wish I had something to do” and I’d reply breezily, “It’s tupperware for time.”

And so it is. You can use up all all those tiny bits of time that are too small for anything else. I keep my knitting on the kitchen counter (although it’s shocking, and to my eternal shame, that I get very unhappy if anyone else clutters up ‘my’ kitchen with anything). I knit while I wait for the kettle to boil, or the pasta to cook, or the sauce to reach a nice simmer… It’s amazing how many quick rows of this or that can be accomplished in those oddment-minutes (and equally amazing how many oddment-minutes can be created, in which it turns out not to be worth starting some more time-consuming or urgent task elsewhere).

It works at the hairdresser’s too. Last time I went I knit there, and that was an absolute revelation. No longer an afternoon entirely sacrificed on the altar of personal vanity. Socks- bless ’em – to the rescue. I do did have problems with the hairdresser’s. I find the unpleasant music too distracting to read a real book, and their magazines are invariably crap on steroids. If I can find one to hand, my previous solution has been to take an ancient, stray New Yorker (rather terrifyingly we are still reading through a subscription from two years ago. We used to read it religiously, cover to cover, every week, but then life intervened, and we became thoroughly ‘lapsed’, and are creeping through our remaining issues like beleaguered Antarctic explorers trapped in the dark fastnesses of  winter pack ice with nothing but two copies of Blackwood’s magazine, c. 1913). Also it’s rude to read while the girl is actually doing things to your hair, and it can be tiring to find continual interaction (though in my case, I quite like to hear the tales of the trainee merchant sailor boyfriend I refer to as the ‘sea captain’, if I can drag them out of her). Yet it transpires that I can knit comfortably, and without rudeness, and no more than the occasional needle-retrieval moment which she indulged with great generosity (it was like a contact-lens incident in style, if not scope). That’s an hour or so into the tupperware, right there.

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