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What’s that you’re knitting? (08/06/2006)
By Frances Edstrom

My sister is a knitter. Since she's been visiting, she's made at least six baby sweaters. Not bad for a woman who had never made a baby sweater before this. She, unlike me, is quite good with needlework. Our house is decorated with several of her creations in cross-stitch. And she is pretty much self-taught, relying heavily on library books (in which the illustrations, to me, seem like nothing more than a bunch of squiggly lines going in all directions).

The Internet has been a real boon to her as a source of knitting information. There are sites where she can download patterns, get reviews of new knitting design books, and learn basic and advanced stitches.

But it goes beyond that.

In the site's chat room participants log on and share information about knitting. My sister was skeptical of those who swore that a baby sweater must be made of pure wool to be any kind of a baby sweater at all. She would read me their comments and we would wonder what new mother would have time to care for baby clothes that need extra-special care. Knowing as she does the mess that most babies make on a regular basis, she thought that perhaps machine washable sweaters would be a better choice for the grandniece she is expecting in September.

But one day, she was sitting at the computer and I was on the couch, and I heard her say, Oh, no! in a manner not consistent with her usual attitude toward knitting purists.

What? I asked.

One of the women in the knitting chat room was mugged! she said.

They tell about stuff like that in a knitting chat room? I asked.

She assured me that although a mugging was unusual, it was not uncommon for the chatters to share all sorts of intimate information, much about their unhappy marriages and family life.

Wow, I thought. Knitting seems like such a happy person's thing to do. Boy, have I been wrong!

Then about the time the thought came to me, my sister said, You know, anyone can log on to the site. I'm surprised these women aren't afraid their husbands will do just that and find out what's being said about them (and to total strangers!).

If I were a marriage counselor, I'd be a little worried about my future. If I were a husband, I'd wonder what my wife is knitting up besides that new sweater! 


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