Monday, October 15, 2007

Which Craft?

During the winter I teach knitting at Stitch Therapy, a Brooklyn yarn shop owned by my friend Maxcine. Before this, I taught at Brooklyn Technical College for two years. I was their first knitting instructor. We held classes in the room between the DWI Program and the Surveillance Camera Installation Workshop, below Anger Management for the newly paroled. I also completed 10 years of teaching at the BBG Children's Gardening Program. By trade I’m a graphic designer, I create Corp ID, packaging systems and collateral web sites. Knitting is graphic design's congruent opposite. I guess I just like teaching.

I find that teaching knitting is a cross between shop class and coaching swimmers. Some nights I lay out the basics, and then other times I try to get someone to move into the deeper end of the pool — holding the needles correctly, correcting technique, English and Continental style, multi strand, single points, double points, circular needles, moving on from a scarf to sweater, etc. This past Sunday I had six students, some new faces and some from last year. Typically, I move around the table and follow each person’s progress over the course of two hours. It’s a small challenge really. Knitting won’t change the world, but I feel that making someone a better knitter might make a better person.

I think it's funny that I teach knitting and hold seasonal circles. I was actually kicked out of my first knitting circle, or as I'd like to put it "I was de-invited from the coven." One woman took a particular disliking to me. One night she proudly announced she was working with a new natural polyfiber. Polyfibers are acrylic or nylon — I demonstrated this by melting a scrap piece of her yarn with my lighter. I didn't realize that act not only insulted her, it destroyed her belief system. From thereafter I was "girl-bullied" by a savage pack of shawl-clad women. It was like getting my ass kicked by a mob of Natalie Merchants. The rest is another yarn to spin, yadda, yadda, yada.

December 2001, that year most people lived under the horrible shadow of "911". Fall into winter was dark, and most knitting circles weren't very friendly, particularly if you were the only guy.

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