An ode to Stitch House:
the toast I didn’t read at Friday night knitting, for fear that I’d turn into a big puddle of tears
(crossposted at spinspinspin.wordpress.com)
by Katie Rose
In about 33 hours, my best friend Jeni will be picking up Jean-Luc and me, shoving everything we can into her car, and driving northward so that I can begin a new chapter of my life in Montreal, with Jonathan and his parents sticking around to pick up the pieces, load them into the UHaul, and follow us up on Monday morning. It’s a great adventure, with a lot to look forward to, and I’m genuinely stoked about the prospects (not so much about the next 33 hours of packing…).
But while celebrating new beginnings, I can’t help think about the chapter that’s ending, my Cambridge/Boston years, my time in residence at Harvard, and the main topic of this blog post, my last 6 years at Stitch House.
Six years ago, almost to the day, I flew home from a year in Russia, and resigned myself to bumming around in my mother’s house in the ‘burbs for the summer until the fall semester at Harvard, where I’d start my PhD in Russian Lit. No car, no job, so during the day I was reading Solzhenytsin’s Gulag Archipelago, knitting cabled knee socks, and going to lots of yoga classes, while at night I’d poke around on Craigslist. And it was a great summer for Craigslist. I found an apartment, cheap furniture, some fun dates with cute boys, and best of all, a job listing for a brand new yarn and fabric shop in Boston, looking for knitting instructors. Score! I emailed immediately, and after a quick back-and-forth, I had an interview in Dorchester with Annissa at the soon-to-be Stitch House.
Our interview was held across the street at the Sugar Bowl, and, used to walking all around Moscow, I decided I’d take the Commuter Rail from the ‘burbs into the city, and then walk to the shop from South Station. Ahem. So, on a hot July afternoon, I found myself on a super-scenic tour of Dot Ave, and arrived at the Sugar Bowl red-faced, covered in sweat and a fine layer of urban grime. I guess I didn’t make a horrible first impression, because Annissa hired me to cover weekends and teach knitting starting in September.
My favorite part of being at Stitch House has always been teaching classes. Teaching knitting was tricky at first, but I loved it, and got better at it over time. Finding different ways to describe what my hands knew so well; learning techniques I’d heard of but hadn’t had reason before to try. And then there were the mistakes — other people’s mistakes. People would come in with problems in their knitting, and would need help getting straightened out. I’d wager that more than 75% of the actual teaching I do ends up being troubleshooting and mistake-fixing, and it was scary those first few times when a customer placed their beloved project in my hands and said, “it’s ok, try your best!” Would I make a huge mess of it? Would it take forever to fix? Would they be angry? Luckily, no one was ever angry, and very seldom would it be a real disaster.
At Stitch House I’ve made some fantastic friends, lifelong friends. Friends who I went dancing with, friends I met for coffee and conversation elsewhere, and slews of friends that I’d see at the shop and knit with. We’d talk about yarn, the latest knitting gadgets and the upcoming fiber festivals, but also about life, about happy things and sad things. Important things and trivial things. Everything and nothing. And we’d knit, knit, knit.
It seems like I can measure my life in knitting sometimes. The socks from when I couldn’t commit to larger projects, the big projects when I had something to prove to myself. The wedding shawl, the baby sweaters. It’s all there, stitch by stitch, and Stitch House is intertwined in every single stitch. It’s in each of the fibers. Not just the shop, but each and every one of you who makes the shop more than just an edifice, but a community, an institution. You’re all knitted up in my life so tightly that I worry that by leaving, all my projects might just unravel on me, leaving me with no socks and no scarves and no sweaters. In chilly Canada! The horror!
But of course they won’t. No, instead, like it or not, a little bit of each of you is packed up in a suitcase full of handknits ready to make its way to Montreal in a little more than a day.
And of course, there are yarn stores in Montreal. There are always other yarn stores. But here’s the secret, one that I’m sure all of you already know – it’s not about the yarn. I mean, sure, the yarn is a lovely, sumptuous pretext, and knitting up good yarn is vital to my mental health, and really, none of us would have a job, and Annissa wouldn’t be able to pay the bills without the yarn, but really? It’s not the yarn. It’s you guys. It’s the magical community that forms around wonderful people doing cool things and sharing parts of themselves in the process.
And so I want to thank you. Thank you Annissa, for giving me a job to fuel my yarn habit, a place to escape the ivory tower across the river every week, and a family and fan club rolled into one. You’ve been a great boss, and a great friend. Thanks to Claire, Bill, Eliza, Jeanne, Valaree, Heather, Bridget, Cassidy, Jen, Moo, Elizabeth, and everyone else whose hard work has made this shop so vibrant, such a hot spot, so much fun to be in.
And thanks to all of you, the customers and friends and family of Stitch House. You’ve taught me so much, given me so much, shared so much. I will never be able to repay all that I’ve gained from you, but I hope to try. I hope that we keep in touch, and that this is just the beginning of an amazing cross-continent friendship that keeps growing stronger over time. I really mean it, I owe so much to my Stitch House peeps; you’re my Boston family.
So let this not be goodbye, but just “see you next time”. Come find me on Ravelry (gnochistickate), on my blog (spinspinspin.wordpress.com), and on Facebook (facebook.com/katiemaerose). Let’s see each other at Rhinebeck this fall. Look me up when you’re in Montreal. And I’ll do what I can to stop in on a Friday night when I’m in town. Because knitters (and crocheters and sewers too!) are awesome people, and you’re the very best of the best.