Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sweetness and light

For a few weeks in late February and March H and I attended a beekeeping course at URI extension.  "You take the notes; I'll knit," I said.  He didn't take notes because that's not the kind of thing he does, but I got through most of a sweater I was making for Langston, Louella and Alan's son, who arrived on April 19th, weighing close to ten pounds.  I was pleased to see that several other knitters were in class, as well as a significant number wearing handknit sweaters.  One knitter came by my seat to display a shawl in process and talk the talk.   She asked if I was going to the fiber festival in Hartford to see the knit designer Sally Melville, because she had already gotten a ticket and couldn't wait.  Her shawl under construction was of dark red variegated wool with metallic highlights, an openwork lace, and she'd ripped it out once already and started anew, she said.  "Do it right, or not at all, you know what I mean?" 

 I do.

 During one break, the beekeeping instructor came over and said, "Madame Defarge, Madame Defarge!"  He was bee-like (no surprise)--round, fuzzy, and buzzy.  

 "I am so tired of hearing that," I observed, without smiling.  H kicked me under the table, because he hates it when my undiplomatic self emerges in public.   To be honest, the last time I'd heard this comment regularly was some thirty years before in graduate school, when the Victorian lit professor for whom I t.a.'d missed no occasion to offer the same witty allusion. Perhaps he was so moved because I sat in the front row of the lecture hall, needles and yarn in hand, doing something useful while he treated the hundred or so captive undergrads to insights like "the word literature is an anagram of true lie art." (Said insight was accompanied by a clever diagram on the blackboard.)

 The beekeeping instructor edged away, but later returned, before the break was over.  In the interest of positive energy I asked, "So, what kinds of things do you knit?"

 "Socks, mostly," he replied.

 This raised him several points in my estimation.  The beekeeping course was, however, extremely discouraging, focused mostly on the different ways bees can sicken and die (don't ask), and I attended only three of the five sessions.  H attended four.  Ultimately we decided we weren't ready to become beekeepers (bee health care providers would probably be a more accurate description, if the apiculture teacher is to be believed), although we would like to keep bees for garden pollination as well as honey.  One day.

 It's probably no accident that the buttons on Langston's sweater are shaped like bees and flowers.  There seems to be a connection between knitting and beekeeping, if I may generalize solely from my observations of those in the URI class.  Oddly, I forgot to photograph the sweater, something I usually do with everything I knit, before I gave it to Langston's mother, and so must deliver an image to these pages at a later date.  However, here's a link to the pattern, which I think is really clever as well as beautiful:

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