Not deferential enough: Knit wit?

Posted Tuesday, September 24, 2013 in Opinion

Not deferential enough: Knit wit?

by Gina Hamilton

"Oh, I could teach you how to knit," Kelly Corbett said confidently.  Kelly Corbett owns Romney Ridge Farm in Woolwich, where she keeps her Romney sheep, and then, when the wool is washed, carded, and spun, dyes her wools.

I bought some pretty wool from her at the Common Ground Fair last fall, a shade of palest sea green, and my friend Jean tried to teach me how to knit.  I never made it through the cast-on stage.

"I've never seen anyone with so much trouble with this," Jean said. 

I don't have trouble with other feminine arts.  I can embroider, for instance, and I'm pretty good at home redecoration, making pillows and the like.  I can cook, bake, can, make jelly. I can make butter, and I'm learning to make cheese.  I can mix up a pitcher of margaritas or martinis.  I can make pretty seasonal decorations. I can sew a kid's Halloween costume.

But my hands don't seem to want to do this knitting thing, which is annoying, because I hate to admit defeat on something like this.  I hate to admit defeat on anything, honestly. 

So I put the knitting needles and the rolled up ball of yarn into a work bag, and one of these days, I'll go over and beg Kelly to teach me how to do this thing.  She claims she can do it.  I don't want to do anything fancy, just learn the real basics.  Maybe make a scarf. Then people would get more than jam in their Christmas baskets. 

Oh, yes, right.  I can make Christmas baskets.

Sitting around the woodstove in the winter seems like such a nice time to knit.  When I watch women do it, it seems like such second nature to them.  They aren't thinking "knit one, purl two", they're laughing and talking and watching television and still manage to have a sweater or two by the evening's end.  Okay, maybe not, but they have something they didn't have at the beginning of the night.  And they aren't eating popcorn or anything, which is a nice plus.

So I mention all this to my husband at this year's Common Ground Fair, and he says, "Well, maybe that's because you're not, strictly speaking, a woman."

"What?"

My dear husband was quick to point out that I'm unlike most women he knows.  He means that in a good way.  "You just don't have the same emotions other women have," he said.  "Umm... and you're very logical."

He reminds me of the time that I watched two episodes of Downton Abbey without him.  I would have watched them with him as reruns, but he didn't want that.  He wanted us to watch them together.

"Sorry," I said. 

"You don't even get it!" he said.

I shook my head.  "No," I acknowledged.

And what does that have to do with my seeming inability to make a scarf?

"It's probably in the genes or something," he assured me.

It is true that I don't see men knitting very often, but I always assumed that was because they have better things to do.  Fixing sinks, or putting new shingles on the roof, or something.

But no, when I think about it, men sit around the woodstove too, and eat popcorn and watch the game on television and laugh and talk and play checkers.  But there are no knitting needles in their paws. 

Well, if Kelly can't  teach me how to do this thing, I shall simply have to move on to more manly pursuits, I guess.

This year at Common Ground, we got a bee house, and some applewood smoked sea salt.  I bought a cake of teatree soap to use on Rudie the Dog's itchy back.  And we bought a piece of beeswax that can be used to seal a bowl or wrap a loaf of bread.  Then you can wash it and use it again.  If it works I will want several of these.

We thought through a honey beehive again.  We may go ahead and take the bee class in November and try to build our own and just get the bees next spring, I don't know.  We looked for miniature cows, but they didn't have any at the Fair, so I may have to make a trip up to Dexter one day to see what's all involved. 

We listened to a couple talking about yogurt. Every year, there is a conversation eavesdropped on that makes the long journey worth it.  And this was it.

Girl:  "The dairy people told me how to make my own rennet from turkey gizzards."

Boy: "Really, turkey gizzards?"

Girl:  "Yes.  And then I can make my own yogurt!  I LOVE yogurt, especially homemade."

Boy:  "I like yogurt too.  But turkey gizzards?"

Girl:  "Well, they have to be free range and all natural."

Ah, young sustainable love. 

So I had to look it up, and sure enough, there's a way to make rennet ... which you use for making cheese, and don't need it so much for yogurt (all you need to make yogurt is a tablespoon of yogurt from an earlier batch) ... out of turkey gizzards.  It's highly unlikely that I will do this, although I could.  I do have some of the women's genes, but maybe just the sustainable ones.

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