How I Taught My Friend to Knit

This is the story of how I taught my friend to knit.

In late 2014, I got a Facebook message from my friend Gabriel* with this link on it: . "No needle knitting!" He said, "There's definitely a needle surplus in the world now". And he said he wanted to try to make an arm-knitted scarf for his sister's Christmas present. I encouraged the idea, because knitting.

Gabriel is a friend I'd met at my university's Catholic students' society. He had just finished an engineering degree, liked to talk about theology to atheists, and could grow a great beard. A few of us from that churchy scene had started hanging out socially once a week at a pub quiz. One of the few times just the two of us had hung out was a couple of months earlier, when we sat in a pub and talked, because the quiz was booked out and our friends all bailed on a movie. We talked about everything, like how he wanted to learn to shear sheep ("I do too!" I'd said) and butcher sheep (ooh, me, not so much), plans for the house he had just moved into, studying, family...enough conversation to last longer than the movie would have gone for. At that time I was getting ready to finish my Masters and I told him how, when I moved back to Adelaide with my parents, I wasn't in a rush to find a psychologist job. Maybe I'd start up a craft stall and sell knitted things alongside my dad's vegetables.

However, in the intervening time between that conversation at the pub and Gabriel's message about arm-knitting, I had been convinced by friends (in large part by him) to stick around in Tasmania for a while. "I'm not quite done with Tasmania," I'd said to myself. 

I told Gabriel I'd happily go with him to select the right yarn, so a week or two later, we did just that. We went to Spotlight and found him some super-bulky maroon yarn. We chose a soft acrylic, because who wants a scratchy wool that shrinks in the wash? I also found some blue yarn so I could make a present for our friend's son (who at that time was yet to be born). We went back to his house, and I left him on his own to follow the tutorial.

A few days later, I was on placement in a counselling office, waiting for a client to arrive, when I got a message from Gabriel with a picture of his right arm tangled in the yarn I'd helped him pick out, cast on but no rows knitted. Not knowing how to proceed, he was trapped, and I'm told it was quite a hassle for him to take the photo.
The ensuing conversation went something like this:
G: Am I doing it right?
K: It looks right but way too tight.
G: I can't get it up my arm. My forearm is thicker than my wrist.
K: You need to start with a longer tail. Unravel it and cast on more loosely.
G: Aw
*a few minutes later, Gabriel posts another picture of his arm all wrapped up in yarn again*
K: Yay! Did you do a row?
G: Yeah, but I don't think I'm doing this right.
K: It looks right to me.
G: I dunno...
K: Do you need help?
G: Yes please.
K: I'll come over tomorrow night.

Actual photo of Gabriel's arm. I did a good job on the yarn choice, no?

The next evening, after a day of placement, I got to his house, he made me a delicious dinner and I became slightly more impressed with him than I had been previously. I’m not going to lie; he was growing on me. "I'm not quite done with Tasmania" might have been code for "I'm not quite done with Tasmanians".

He had the YouTube video all set up to play from his TV and he played it but really, it wasn't my first time knitting so we mostly didn't watch it. Instead, I demonstrated with some yarn I'd brought and he followed along. Eventually he got the hang of it and we sat on the couch while he arm-knitted his scarf and I knitted a shawl - or was it the baby cardigan? - I can't remember. I even drew him a diagram about how knitting works, which I didn't think made much sense but hey, he's an engineer (A couple of weeks later when he'd decided to make another scarf for his sister-in-law, he said my diagram came in handy when he had to fix a mistake)!

When he was done with the knitting I showed him how to cast off and attach the ends together such that it made a Möbius strip, because he likes Möbius strips.

And then we were done. Then he made us a cup of tea and I told him about growing up as the daughter of aquarium enthusiasts and I drew him a diagram of an axolotl.

Then I had finished drawing pictures, so he made us a cup of tea and he showed me videos about Möbius strips and Klein bottles and physics.

Then that was done so he made us a cup of tea and we talked about theology and the monastery in the country we were both going to visit the next day.

And then it was 11pm and he had to get ready for his work which started at midnight. And so, he made us a cup of tea and he got dressed for work and then we talked until he had to leave for work and we both left.

And that is the story of how I taught my husband to knit.

Postscript: That baby, who was the recipient of the cardigan I mentioned? He's our godson.

*Gabriel’s name is not actually Gabriel. The first time I saw him across the room and I didn't know his name, I decided he looked like a Gabriel because his long blond hair reminded me of a cartoon Archangel Gabriel in a Christmas movie I watched as a kid.

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