Ask Gertrude: HELP! I’m a newbie and I have the fear!
Gertrude Woolsworthy sits scared newbies down and slaps a bit of bravery into them as she’s asked for tips on how to brave a knitter’s first ever S&B London meeting.
I am an avid reader of the S&B newsletter, especially your column. I would love to come to one of the meetings in the New Year, but I am very shy around new people and also not able to knit yet. I fear that my lack of skills or my newness will show me up. What do I do?"
Shy of Shoreditch
Oh Shy, for goodness sake stop worrying, take a deep breath and have a slice of Stollen cake and a nice cup of tea. Let Gerty calm your nerves. I was once an S&B London newbie too and now look at me! Here are a few ways to help you avoid that first S&B London fear.
Option one: Steal existing member’s identity
Quite simply all you need to do is wander along to the Flickr group and choose your target. The more they resemble you the better. Weeks of sitting in a tree with a pair of nightvison goggles strapped to your face will then be necessary to make sure you have all the facts. Knit yourself a nice set of woolly undergarments to keep you toasty while you stalk. Go through their wheelie bin, sit behind them on the bus reading their text messages over their shoulder, follow them to their LYS and peer at their picks.
Once you have enough information simply soak a handy ball of cheap acrylic in chloroform, lie in wait for them as they reach the meeting venue, leap from the shadows, put them gently to sleep, steal their WIP (work in progress) and stash their sleeping bulk in a handy loo cubicle.
Then simply stroll into the meeting as them. Greeting old friends and adding a few rows to their knitting as a balm to the fact they will wake up with a chloroform hangover and the urge to call the police in a few hours.
A warning though: try it on me and you’ll have to remove a very spiky pair of DPNs from somewhere tender…
Option two: Pretend you’ve been before
Appear at the meeting full of confidence, plonk yourself down with a chattering crowd and deal out highly offended glares to those who ask you if you’re new. Use the phrase “How very rude! Don’t you know I’ve been an S&B Londoner since the terrible cake shortage of 2006!” and grumble on about how back in your day people knew an S&B Londoner by the flick of their yarn-holding finger, donchaknow.
Option three: Be prepared, you numbskull!
Our S&B London website has a lovely page which tells you what you need to bring if you wish to learn to knit. You’d do well to read it and bring the right tools for the job. It makes me weep when someone turns up with eyelash yarn and a pair of sharpened broomsticks. Oh the horror!
Option four: Knit or fashion a fake beard or moustache
Any kind of fake facial fur is the ultimate S&B London icebreaker. For some reason we can’t get enough of the hairy handsomeness that is face furniture. Check out pics of this summer’s Knit Crawl to see what we mean.
Turn up with a nifty knitted nose neighbour or a purled piece of great goatee and watch the eyes of your fellow S&B Londoners light up. It is allllll about the tash that you’ve made from your stash, Shy. Use the tash and you can’t go wrong.
I hope this has been helpful, my shy stitching questioner. As for lack of knitting skills you’ll be fine. All knitters newbie or old hands are welcome. You won’t be alone in taking your first set of stitching steps and your fellow knitters will be encouraging, friendly and sympathetic.
Take heart, pull a chair up to a table of knitters, and join the stitching storm. A life lived in fear of public knitting is a life half lived, take it from a giant pink ball of yarn who knows a thing or two.
I hope to see you at a meeting soon. Mine’s a pint of gin and a slice of Battenberg.
See this question and others that didn’t make the newsletter on Gerty’s blog.