One of the most amazing things about knitting is the reach it has through many generations and across cultures. Before Julia was born, The Farmer and I used to take a nice trip once a year (I racked up a lot of frequent flyer miles which surely did help). We traveled to France a few times, exploring the back roads and enjoying the food and wine. We visited Scotland, England and Wales - sheep peeping and wool watching, meeting local farmers at the many independent pubs in the towns we stayed in. In Portugal, we snuck into every church we could find – they were filled with art and craft and amazing ceramic tiles from the hey day of the Portuguese explorers. The fabulous seafood, the site of the little gardens behind every home poked onto steep hillsides, the wines and vineyards – these memories still flash through my mind from time to time. I'm still lusting after the amazingly tall kale plants which seemed to be in every garden. I can still taste the caldo verde soup I ate day after day made from this amazing plant. Portugal is the reason I love low care geraniums so much.
One of the fondest memories I have of our traveling days is an afternoon stop at a little café somewhere deep in the Portuguese countryside. We found a quaint little bar in the center of the town and stopped in for an afternoon espresso. The café was full of local working men in their blue jumpsuits, all downing a quick drink before heading home to their families. We were always an oddity in these places – the towns we traveled to didn’t see many Americans.
Never one to a woman without her knitting, I pulled out a pair of multi-colored gloves I was working on. I sat there knitting at a little table while The Farmer order his espresso and my cappucino. I saw a woman across the room staring at my hands knitting. She had her grandchildren in tow. I could tell she was fascinated watching the pattern build up from the different colors of yarn I was knitting with. Round and round I went on my double pointed needles as she kept watching. I caught her eye and smiled at her. She drew up her nerve and came and sat next to me. She couldn’t speak English and I could only say “Obrigado” (thank you) in Portuguese.
The Farmer came back to the little table to find us deep in conversation – knitting conversation that is. She was speaking in Portuguese – telling me Portuguese knitting terms and asking me questions. I was explaining in English what I was doing and the plans I had for the gloves. The Farmer gave me my drink and promptly went back to the bar to sip his. He knew there was no hope. The woman and I continued to chat about knitting. It was a curious conversation – neither of us knew what the other was saying but through the language of knitting we learned about each other. I didn’t want the conversation to end.
I’ll never forget that afternoon – probably not for the rest of my life. It’s amazing how knitting can bring people together – odd combinations of people. Without knitting, they wouldn’t give each other the time of day. Throw in a little knitting at a café or wear a handknit hat and scarf and watch the conversation start.
I’ve made many friends throughout my knitting career. Many of these friends I have initially met because they have knit projects that I have designed. We meet through the knitting but then we become friends. I learn about their families, their jobs, their bosses, and their pets. They are women of all ages from throughout the USA. Most of them knit because they love to – they like the challenge of a new project. They like to take some rough directions, some charts, and some little sketches and turn the yarn I give them into what I want. I think about all of them as I am designing a project and knitting a swatch. I think about who would like to do what. I wonder how they are doing. I catch up with them when I send them a project. They call and ask questions and I find out what’s going on in their personal life. I love this connection – of many years and many projects.
It’s a similar thing with the blogosphere – I began my blog as a marketing tool but it has become something else. By reading other people’s blogs, I see how other knitters live and stitch. I learn about their families, their trials and tribulations. It’s an odd thing, this knitting blog thing – but it’s a good thing. I see what other knitbloggers are knitting without leaving the comfort of my home. It still blows my mind!
I’ve had my blog now for well over a year and I thank all of you who read and comment. I like to think my blog has become a small part of one giant knitting circle with a little farming and life thrown in – similar to the quilting bees of old. How lucky we all are to have this new medium to continue to pass on the stitching love and lore.