Sunday, 2 May 2010

Out of the closet

One extremely strange thing (for me) about my new job is that I have come out of the (crafting) closet.  I was in my old job for 18 years, and in all that time I never ever knit in public at work.  I told very few people that I made quilts, and only about two very close friends knew that I made and collected dollshouses.  It was like a guilty secret that wasn't cool or professional enough to let out.  On Monday my colleagues would come in and talk about gardening and clubbing and sailing and golfing and all the other socially acceptable activities they'd got up to on their weekend, and I would use euphemisms like "we went to a craft show" or "I caught up on my TV" rather than coming clean that I had been to a dollshouse show or was binding a quilt in front of the tv.  My holidays were described as "I went to Kentucky for a week" and not as "I went to the Paducah quilt show for a whole week and took classes with..."

Meanwhile the world moved on and suddenly it is cool and trendy to be doing handcrafts.  In fact, some of us longterm quilters are rather annoyed that many of the media reports around the big quilt exhibition at the Victoria and Albert seem to suggest that quilting was a dying craft until suddenly it was 'rediscovered' very recently.  But still, in connection with the V&A exhibit, I have seen quilting promoted in several newspapers, my women's magazine, my knitting magazines, a craft store catalogue, and various non-crafting people at work have even asked me if I'd heard about the exhibition.

So when I started my new job, and found myself on my first lunch hour in the staff lounge, I thought "what the heck" and pulled out my knitting.  I have since fought down my instinct to conceal it, and have knit in front of colleagues in the lunchroom as we chat, smiled at my boss as she walked by, and on Thursday I knit in front of my team as we travelled to our away day at Bletchley Park.  Far from being ostracised, I have had unexpected team mates come up and show an interest and ask what I was knitting, and tell me about the one scarf they knit 15 years ago. It is an incredibly liberating feeling to actually be able to talk to people about things that take up a large percentage of my life.  Luckily a lot of my team are considerably younger than me, so hopefully they are viewing me as pursuing a typical older person's hobby rather than as an eccentric.

Although I have to admit that I still haven't told the new colleagues about the dollshouses.  Those are kind of harder to explain...

Bletchley Park was really interesting.  We had a short teambuilding session in the morning, very low-key and non-threatening, just sitting around in a room chatting.  Then we had a tour of some of the exhibits, and saw the Enigma machines, the reproduction of the codebreaking Colossus computer, and various other codebreaking technologies. A nice break from work, and an interesting place to visit if you are interested in WWII history.  They also have a small exhibit in the museum about the 'home front' which includes needlecrafting memorabilia such as the 'Make do and Mend' campaign, contemporary knitting tools, irons, dressmaking supplies etc.  I was knitting on my Pi Shawl as it is my most portable project at the moment.  I am on Row 6 of my 40 row border.

This week I have been revisiting an old project, the Chain Mail t-shirt that I adapted from a Kaffe Fassett pattern in Rowan 41. We have now reached that brief time of year where it is warm enough to wear summer knits, yet not too warm to be wearing a knitted item.  I hauled out the t-shirt from the back of the closet and wore it to quilt club last Saturday.  I hadn't seen it since last year, and I realised that I hated the lace edging I had used to lengthen the cropped t-shirt.  It looked clumsy and flared out, and the t-shirt still wasn't long enough to be comfortable.  But I liked the colour sequence, and it had been such a lot of work I didn't want to just give it away.

So I sat down and picked up all the stitches around the bottom row of stockinette and cut off the lace edging.  I had enough yarn left over to knit about three inches of garter stitch at the bottom of it, taking the project along to my local knitting club to work on.  I also decreased some stitches to correct the flare.  But when I cast the edge off and tried on the t-shirt, I realised that it was still too short, plus I had over-decreased and it was now too tight.  So I unravelled the garter stitch and started over again.  I still had some colours of this yarn left over from the original project, so I added in about another inch of stripe and once again started on the garter stitch edging.  I'm about halfway through that, so no pic yet.

Apart from that, I've mainly been working on my dollshouse, which you can read about (if interested) on my other blog here.


Teresa said...

I proudly hang my quilts in my office - I have a large blank wall that is at least 12 feet high, old building. I change the quilts out every three months or so, and you would be surprised at the other "crafters" that come out of the closet to talk about their hobbies. The heck with professionalism, heck, my job just pays the bills, my passion is quilting.

Daisy said...

One of my funniest knitting moments is of travelling back from a conference with two fellow (male) committee members on the train. I got out my knitting without thinking about it. They studiously avoided looking at it and carried on talking oblivious!

Pet Peeve said...
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