Knitting with Betty (344th new thing).

December 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

I bought a deal for half off a BYOB knitting class. I didn’t bring any booze, but on Day Three Hundred Forty-Four I redeemed the voucher for a one-on-one session at Yarning for Ewe. Love those pun names.

I walked in and immediately met Betty, the middle aged Indian owner of the shop and my teacher. It was to be a class of one. She let me choose a yarn and called to her husband behind the counter to grab a pair of nine inch number seven needles. I had thought maybe I had knitted earlier this year, when I used the Knifty Knitter to make a tea cozy, but it turns out that was more akin to crochet. Knitting, as I quickly learned, was performed with two wooden sticks (like chopsticks with a bulb at the end). The yarn was looped from left to right needle, forming a growing piece of woven fabric.

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I sat next to Betty as she showed me how to “cast off,” or initially loop the yarn onto the sticks. It took about fifteen minutes, but I gradually got the hang of the process. Several times she would snatch my work away for examination and say “Yes!” or tsk tsk and proceed to unravel all my threading. That sucked. Any ideas of walking out of the ninety minute class with a new scarf around my neck were dashed, repeatedly.

Finally my casting was approved and I advanced to the “knit stitch.” I picked up on this quickly and was growing to enjoy sitting by Betty as she answered her phone and nodded approvingly at my progress. The phone conversations were hilarious. First an angry lady named Jennifer called in reply to Betty’s phone call minutes before. Apparently she and her friend had signed up for a class the previous weekend, but Betty had been having health problems and went to the emergency room. Jennifer very furiously explained that phone calls were not her primary method of communication (she didn’t want to receive them), that she had emailed Betty earlier in the day, and that she was very disappointed that she was not informed that the class had been cancelled. While I understood her point, my growing affection for my teacher made me think of Jennifer as a class act beotch. After hanging up, Betty sighed with exasperation and explained to me that it was very hard to call students when she was in the emergency room. I told her I hoped she was feeling better as she checked my work.

After a couple of rows of the knit stitch, Betty taught me the “purl stitch,” except she pronounced it as “pull.” This one was trickier to master, especially after I had been chugging along at my previous stitches. Basically the purl is a backwards version of the knit, when you loop your right hand needle into your left hand one from above instead of below. But this isn’t a knitting tutorial, so if you’re interested, Google it.

While I struggled with the purl, the phone rang again, and this time it was a rep from Living Social, calling to finalize a second promotion. With the earpiece volume turned up high, I was able to hear both sides of the conversation clearly. Basically LS wanted Betty to raise her website prices to make the deal price half off the regular. I began to question the value of my previous Groupon and Living Social purchases. What really goaded me was the way the woman explained it. She asked Betty to send her an email with both the original price and the half off price of the deal. Shady shady. Then Betty called her youngest daughter, who at twenty-three may have still had a rough relationship with her family. The mother explained that she needed the prices of classes to be removed from her website and her daughter, speaking increasingly more quickly began to get frustrated. It turned into a minor screaming match in their native tongue. A little awkward for me, but I kept my head down and kept on knitting.

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By this point Betty had me altering my row of knit stitches and purl stitches. After her phone call with her daughter she checked my work and scolded me. “You dropped a stitch! But I’ll fix it, here.” She took my mini blue beginnings of a scarf away and furiously picked at the threads until everything seemed to be correct again. I received it back, making sure to properly regard my needle work from then on. I didn’t, but at least I was faster.

I was eventually hustled into buying the second class after two hours had passed. Betty told me I was already learning part of the next class, and after hearing how she was losing money on the first half off deal offered, I agreed to stay for another hour as my “second class.” She told me stories throughout the afternoon about a girl who had come in to the shop Monday at 11AM and stayed until 4PM. All I thought was, “Brown noser.”

I stayed for about four hours total, watching Betty teach the next group of students, three friends how to begin. I giggled to myself when she chastised the beginnings of their work but knew she was actually a sweet lady, and that they would indeed learn something. I promised I would schedule my next class soon as I left. I really did intend to, but I need to practice on my own first. How else will I be able to bring back some more dropped stitches for Betty to fix??

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