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Out and About: Twist O' Wool Guild

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Posted on February 5, 2016 | Blog Category:
By Jessie Raymond



In November, I announced in this blog space that I would be making more of an effort to go to at least a few of the many interesting events I come across as the community calendar editor at the Addison Independent. I hoped to attend one event every 1-3 weeks.

I was so naïve back then.

What with the holidays and family visits and my basic aversion to leaving the house, I managed to pencil in — and quickly abandon — plans for any number of calendar events. Until last Thursday night.

With trepidation, I went to the Twist O’ Wool Guild’s monthly meeting at the American Legion in Middlebury. I am a longtime knitter and handspinner, and I have been wanting to check this group out for several years. I’ve just been so busy this past decade or so.

OK, I’m not all that busy; I just prefer to be at home. But I realize there’s something more: I am a tiny bit scared to throw myself into a new group of people. I hate feeling like an outsider. What if they don’t want me there?

Plus, Addison County is small. Odds are, in any new social situation, I’m likely to run into a few people I kind of know, but whose names I can’t remember. I am terrified of being greeted by someone who clearly knows me but whom I cannot for the life of me place. In my nervous state I tend to ask probing but totally inappropriate questions, such as, “Hey, that wasn’t you I saw in the court log last week, was it?”

Nerves make me say dumb things.

Lucky for me, I was an hour late to the meeting (the time in the Addy Indy calendar listing was wrong, and for once it was not the calendar editor’s error). Though my tardiness made me feel like even more of an outsider, it turned out to be a bonus because by the time I strolled in, the attendees — more than 50 — were so engrossed in a presentation on double knitting that no one looked up to question why I thought I belonged there.

It also turned out that I had brought the wrong yarn, a small problem but one that almost made me flee in embarrassment. What if people pointed and snickered?

I didn’t arrive in time to get the instructional handouts, which seemed like a problem but wasn’t. When you get a group of 50 people all learning a new skill, there are always two or three who can’t quite get the hang of it. Thanks to them, the instructor had to keep starting from the beginning. In a few minutes, I was more or less up to speed.

It turns out that double knitting — a technique that allows you to knit two sides of a piece of fabric in two different colors at the same time — is a clever skill, but one that I probably will never feel the need to use. I did, however, come away with some other newfound knowledge, namely:

1. I enjoy being surrounded by people wearing handknit garments who are clearly as infatuated with fiber arts as I am.

2. There are many more such people around here than I suspected.

3. I was worried that people would criticize my technique, even though I have been knitting for almost 30 years. It turns out that I am as skilled as anyone else — and, more importantly, no one cared or even paid attention.

4. My presence was a lot less threatening to the group than I had feared. Rather than scowl at me, people either smiled or didn’t notice me at all. The woman next to me admitted she had only ever knitted one item before coming to this meeting, so clearly I was not the only new face in the crowd.

On my way out, I signed up for a Twist O’ Wool Guild membership — a manageable $10 per year. In future meetings, there will be “spin-ins,” where members bring their spinning wheels and make yarn. At that time, I’ll have a new opportunity to feel inferior, mostly about my wheel, my spinning techniques and the resulting yarn. No doubt, I’ll discover that I’m doing just fine (and that nobody else cares).

I look forward to it.

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