Tuesday, March 30, 2010

May I See What You’re Working On?

She was sitting with her legs crossed at the ankle, wearing a beige Chanel suit, her perfectly made up face partially hidden by the pages of the New York Times Arts section.   For at least ten minutes, I had felt her gaze wandering up over her paper to where I sat, knitting. I never looked up to meet her eyes, but I could feel her watching my hands like a hawk watches a rabbit play in a meadow.  The tension was mounting, to the point I was fearful of dropping a stitch when, finally, she spoke...”excuse me, but may I see what you are working on?”.  And thus began our conversation.  I showed her what I was knitting, let her look over the pattern.  She wanted to know who it was for. I told her it was a Christmas present and that, yes, I worked on Christmas presents in March, one has to if one wants everything completed by December.  She told me she used to be a knitter, years ago, couldn’t remember why she gave it up...  we talked and talked as though we’d known each other for ages.

And then.....once, years ago, I was returning home on a plane from Los Angeles, passing the time by needlepointing a pillow for my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas.  Slowly I  began to notice several serious-faced, dark-suited gentleman coming down each of the aisles, looking over the passengers.  All of a sudden I was aware of someone standing at my elbow.  I looked up to see former President Jimmy Carter smiling down at me, surrounded by secret service men.  He asked to see the needlepoint,  told me he really liked it and we proceeded to talk about it for a good while. Before he walked away, he told me he thought I was a very pretty girl.  Gee whiz.   

Such is the magic of doing any type of needlework in public.  It is an activity that just seems to be approachable; to connect people to one another in a way.   Everyone, and I mean everyone, wants to see what you’re working on.  Whereas strangers might never inquire as to what book you are reading, or to whom you are writing that letter, they will almost always ask about what you are making. Who knows why?   Perhaps this particular art ties us a bit to the past, to those who once created this type of work out of necessity rather than luxury.

 I do know there is not much more satisfying that taking the time to make something for someone else, seeing the smiles when they realize how much you think of them is such a treat.  Believe it or not, yes, I am already working on Christmas presents.  Gathering beautiful wools and silks, deciding on patterns, and knitting away.... all activities I enjoy immensely, all year long. It is a sweet bonus to see all my  work later in its new home,  with the ones I made it for.  
Here.... see what I mean......

These beautiful eyes belong to Harlan. 
 You can see a bit of the hat that I hid in her Easter box last year. 
 Harlan is a magical creature, who makes exquisite little houses for the fairies in her garden and sleeps in a bedroom high up in the trees.

This is Walter. 
He is just a couple of  weeks old in this photograph, wearing a fair isle hat that I made just for him, before I knew his name of course.  
It happened to snow right after he was born, so with his new hat, Walter was ready for his very first snowfall.

This is my dear friend, Sandee, the divine photographer, modeling her most recent Christmas gift.  
We speak in shorthand and know each other’s secrets.  
You can see her amazing work HERE.

These lovely girls are my god-daughters,  Anna and Katie.
Don’t they look fetching
 in their colourful beehive hats?


Another hat, this time worn by the most exquisite, Sarah.

Oh, and this handsome fellow is Gatsby, wearing his Ralph Lauren coat and posing proudly by the petit-point pillow I made for him one Christmas.
  Gatsby goes to the steeplechase every year and has been on holiday in France where he managed to get off his lead one afternoon and cause his devoted owner no small amount of distress. 

My sweet friend Jan is modeling her latest Christmas presents. 
 Both the scarf and the hat were done in cotton in a colour I knew would suit the lovely Jan just perfectly.  Jan is my Francophile friend, the one who brought me home a fairy from the Ile Saint Louis, her favourite place in the world.

And of course, my favourite model is always Edward.
  This time he is wearing a scarf that I just completed using a pattern by the wonderful Emma Lamb.  This scarf works up beautifully, so much so that I’m in the middle of another one right now.  It’s a fun pattern and you can get it HERE.

Remember, it’s never to early to start on presents.  You’ll be entertained all year long,  and you never know who you’ll meet whilst you’re working.