Subscribe by RSS

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


"You sure there'll be other men at this knitting hoolie then?" I ask Susan at the entrance to the old drill hall in Dalmenie Street, location of the first Edinburgh Yarn Festival. 

"Of course," she says.

"How many?"

"Two, maybe three."

"Counting me?"


"And how many women?"

"They're expecting 1500."

"I'll be conspicuous then."

"Nobody will be looking at you," she assures me. "They'll be too busy squishing."

Saying Susan is keen on knitting is like saying Romeo was keen on Juliet. Or George Osborne is keen on austerity. She adores knitting. If she felt as strongly about me I'd be scared. 

"Do you think I'm addicted to knitting?" she asked me, the other day.

"Of course not," I lied.

"Thank you," she said.

So when she asked me to chum her to the knitting festival, as her buddy had been taken sick, I couldn't refuse. But I wasn't happy.  

"Two guys and 1500 women?" I say. "Suppose I took you along to a meeting of the Cumnock trainspotters society, how would you feel?"

"You wouldn't do that," she says. "You stopped spotting trains when they got rid of steam, a hundred years ago."

"It's a hypothetical question," I say.

"I wouldn't mind," she says."I'd know they'd be weird, obsessive and uninterested in me."

"So that's what knitters are like?"

"Except we're not weird."

The lifesize cow just inside the door, its back carpeted with multi-coloured balls of wool, tells a different story. Knitted horn-warmers, one blue, one red, complete the disturbing picture.

"You can't tell me that's not weird," I say.

"It's creative," she says. "It's art."

"My son's an artist," I remind her. "We have meaningful conversations about art all the time. None of them involves woolly cows."

Inside the drill-hall the bustling scene takes time to process. Women, kids, tables, cakes, stalls, spinning-wheels and skeins of yarn of every colour. Thousands of them, stacked high.  "What's squishing?" I ask.


"You said they'd be too busy squishing. What is it?"
"It's what we do with new yarn," she says. "Take a look at the woman behind you." 

Blue jeans, no make-up, she is reaching for a hank of blue wool from the stall as I turn. First one hand squeezes the wool then the other, slowly, sensuously, like a cat stretching. Then she brings it up to her face and strokes her cheek with it. Her expression is rapt and dreamy.

"That's not normal," I whisper to Susan.

"It is if you're a knitter," she assures me.

I take another look. The woman's head is on one side now and her eyes are closed. She is still stroking gently. "I've seen expressions like that on women's faces," I say to Susan. "But not with a thousand other people in the room."

"And not recently," Susan says.

"True," I say. "But that's only because we have the lights out these days. Isn't it?"

"Of course," she lies.

"Thank you," I say.

No comments:

Post a Comment