Friday, March 16, 2007

The Missionary Position

A man we work with had a heart attack on Wednesday and has been in the hospital ever since. Heaven only knows how long he will be in the hospital. His girlfriend, who also works with us, came to work this morning to stay busy for a little while and to "avoid sitting at home crying". (Ya'll know: I sympathize with the tears.) She told me this morning that she has been trying to read a book while sitting with him at the hospital but realized she was reading the same paragraph over and over and not comprehending any of it.

I'm sure ya'll know where this is going.

I told her I had just the thing for her. I explained to her the peaceful repetition of bedside knitting. I told her that knitting is a happy medium on the how-focused-you-have-to-be scale. I explained about the comfort of keeping your hands busy and your mind occupied enough that you don't sit there dwelling on the endless "oh no, what if?" possibilities. I told her that watching someone sleep is a whole lot less gut-wrenching when your hands are being not just busy but productive. (In retrospect, she is probably thinking that I am may not well in the head....)

Luckily, I had some Lion Cotton in my car and some needles. I did the cast on for her and knit the first few rows. (I don't want to hear about it if you think this is cheating. I didn't want to scare her off.) Since the cotton was handy, I set her up to make a dishcloth. Of course, everyone I have ever taught to knit, I've started them on a dishcloth. Probably because that is what I was started on. I told her, if the hospital stay is longer than a dishcloth, it can be a dish towel.

Q&A: I'll Bring the Q's, You Bring the A's

All of which leads me to my questions, dear knitters. I want to know: How do you do it?

Do you have a preferred "first project" that you use when sharing the good news with the masses?

A go-to yarn/needle combo for the knitting converts?

And (now this is the closest we get to "controversial topics" here at Ok! What Next??) have you ever "helped" someone learn to knit who had not expressed a desire to learn? Is it morally reprehensible to force our craft on the unsuspecting?


Today's Quote:

"If a friend is in trouble, don't annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it." ~Edgar Watson Howe

13 comments:

Charity said...

Here's my A:
1) I like to start with something that grabs their interest - I've started with dishcloths, slippers, a hat, and of course, scarves.
2) No particular favourites, here.
And finally, 3) Pshaw! That's like asking if it's morally reprehensible to make someone eat their veggies! :0)

Erin said...

I like to start beginners off with a simple knit stitch scarf--it really gets your hands used to the movement and it looks like a real and useful thing. Plus with fun yarn it's automatically interesting. Something worsted that works easily and uses a size 8, if I'm pressed.

I've never pushed someone too hard into knitting (or crochet!) although I've definitely extolled the virtues of each to various people. You can always try and you know if you've gone too far if they brush you off or get peevish. Otherwise why not?

And you so did not cheat casting on and starting for her--that is the hardest and most annoying part as a beginner. It's one of the things that got me stuck for a long time at first!

RC said...

anything goes. dedpends on the who. kids do squares to sew together for hats, beanbags, finger puppets. adults get anything from square to scarf to sock.

also I prefer 7 or 8's and a smooth worsted (the better to see the stitches) and have recently learned that it is MUCH easier to teach knit and save the cast on's for later. so cast on for them and knit the first fiddley row... then off they go!


everyone has the ability to say no. or if you don't see then working on it and ask, tell them its OK if you don't want. just thought it would help.

I think its better to at least give them the distraction of worrying over something else!

RobynR said...

I'm not so much of a missionary I'm ashamed to say. I much prefer to be held in awe over my awesome wielding of sticks and string ;)
That said, I taught a young cousin how to make a catnip mouse from the pattern in Wendy Johnson's book. I gave her a pair of needles I had on hand, some extra yarn . . . I want to say it was a Paton's worsted weight in a pink, yellow, orange and . . . green maybe? ombre wool. She was most pleased with herself.
I don't force the learning on people. Except my husband. I'm certain that he can do feather and fan in his sleep even though he's only held knitting needles when poking me in the backside with 'em.

Cattycorner said...

I learned to make a dishcloth, but I encourage others to make a nubby, novelty yarn scarf. The yarn is much more forgiving of beginner errors, and people love stuff they can wear immediately. But hey, if I had cotton yarn and needles in the car, waiting? I would have gone with the discloth too!!

Susanne said...

Your "quote" today is so appropriate. When, in times of need and stress, people do NOT feel comfortable ASKING for help so when someone steps forward and just "does it", it makes it so much easier on the individuals who are stressed.
I am sure she will be able to pass the time so much more easily now that you have given her the 'zen" force.
A dishcloth is perfect and as you note, a towel it could be as well.

Stefaneener said...

Unless you are holding a pointy stick to their temple, of course it's not a moral problem. Ha.

And best wishes to the girlfriend, both in her knitting and her sitting.

Linda said...

Just read Anne Hood's fabulous book on this VERY subject, The Knitting Circle. I'll bear that wonderful quote in mind, cause I HATE to annoy those already boggled.

Laura said...

I've never taught someone to knit. You can do that even when they haven't asked?? Hm. Interesting! heh

Hope your office friend recovers well and that his girlfriend survives his recovery. Knitting should help. What a nice friend you are. :)

RobynR said...

I've edited my finished blanket post to include specs. and you're right it's SOOOO soft and entirely washable.

Dorothy said...

You gave her something to think about other than the worries and fears for a little while. Nothing is wrong about that. Comfort comes in all shapes and forms and if hers was some dishcloth cotton and knitting needles, all the better.

I would start with small stuff. Let her finish something soon and have a little happy accomplishment.

brandilion said...

I like to start them with about 20 stitches in worsted or larger, then the item grows quickly and they feel like they are accomplishing something. Usually a scarf because it takes them about that long to really get the hang of what they are doing and to learn how to fix mistakes (they need to knit a while to make them all and learn how to fix them) :)

Margaret said...

I start people off with a piece of uselessness: Cast on. Then knit a few rows. Then purl a few rows. Then put the knitting and purling together. The length of all of it depends entirely on how quickly the student catches on, and how quickly he or she gets bored. Once they get the hang of it, I have them either cast off and save the randomness square (I still have my first one!) or frog it -- and start on either mittens or a hat. I particularly like mittens: ribbed cuff, stocking stitch hand, increases for the thumb gore, decreases at the top of the hand and thumb, picking up stitches from the thumb to make the hand, sewing the side-seam ... and of course counting to make sure the second one matches! But I've only ever taught people who came to me and asked me to teach them. I think your solution for your coworker was perfect, both as a suggestion of something to do and as a way to get started doing it. If it works for her, she'll continue. If not, she won't. No worries either way.