So I got a job this summer as a tour guide in a 150 year old flour mill in a small town south of Ottawa. Weekends were busy enough, but giving a single tour between Monday and Thursday was kind of a big deal.
Suffice to say, I had a lot of free time.
Now management was aware of our excess of time and understand innate human laziness, so they let us waste away the days doing nothing if necessary as long as the nothing we were doing was “period appropriate” to the 1860s to match our costumes.
Perhaps a month into the job I was on shift with a local volunteer, a delightfully sassy woman with a sharp sense of humour who was in her early seventies, when the suggestion was put forward that perhaps I could learn how to knit.
Being a teenage male in the 21st century, this was an obscure proposal. But being a teenage male in the 21st century who lives with three women and is deeply in touch with his feminine side, I squealed, clapped my fingers together, and rushed off to buy the appropriate supplies.
Fast forward two months, and somehow the knitting craze has fully infected the staff. All twenty-odd tour guides had taken up knitting, to the point that the local craft store began offering discounts to anyone dressed in 1860s fashion. My six foot three, two hundred and fifty pound, bearded Lebanese colleague knit a full neck warmer for his girlfriend. My farming, valley-accented, drink-eight-pitchers-in-an-evening co-worker knit a blanket with the anarchy symbol proudly displayed at the top. We knit socks, hats, sweaters, even an exceptionally masculine pink tea cozy, which turned out so well we made three more.
People who would regularly visit the mill began to ask if we were being forced to knit, or if we were fake knitting for the sake of the show. Seniors would laugh at us and offer us advice and encouragement. High schoolers who were only visiting to play Pokemon Go would point and scoff and trip over one of the dozens of balls of yarn lying around. We started having weekend events where people could gather on the front lawn and knit along with us.
The knitting craze spread like a happy cancer. The church next store started up a weekly knitting group where finished articles could be donated to charity. A bakery down the street starting using the tea cozies that were now being cranked out every few days to display “local culture” on the tables at the front of the store. The town pub asked for special sized ones that guests could use for beer glasses. Workers at other stores nearby started knitting during their downtime, even reaching as far as the grocery store. I worked in the meat department there last summer, and one of the butchers I knew had taken up the hobby.
When I moved out to come back to school, the whole damn town was wrapped in wool, and it was fucking beautiful.
And I must say, as a man who’s knitting capabilities are now slightly above those of the average kitten, I have nothing but mad respect for the grannies of the world who can crank out a dozen socks in two days and a sweater in a week.
Keep on rockin’, grandma.