As my knitting career began, I spent evening after evening knitting my garter stitch scarfs. I was in love- with knitting. While my personal life lacked luster, this simple new hobby filled my soul. My friends didn't seem to think this was enough, however. They thought I needed something that involved a little more... sex.
A couple of friends knew another man who knit. He even purled. He made socks and hats and sweaters and all manner of exciting knittery that I had only dreamed of touching. So, an invitation was made to a party where we would both be.
I entered the room with some excitement. Philip was his name. I'd already been warned to never use Phil, which I appreciated. My name is Jonathan and I'm shocked how many people simply can't be bothered with those extra two syllables.
I don't remember who arrived first, but I do know that we both got there relatively early. I was introduced to Philip, or I introduced myself. I don't remember. What I do remember is that he was absolutely beautiful- tall like me, sandy blonde hair, great eyes and a boy next door build that made me drool. His teeth were just a bit crooked and he spoke with just the slightest lisp; the imperfection made him even better.
This was the early fall of '08 and Obama fever was running hot. Much of the party's conversation revolved around such topics. Philip proved himself to be humorous and intelligent. And cute. I asked for his number before the party was over, an act that required every bit of courage I could muster. We set up a time to learn some more advanced knitting and parted ways.
I arrived at Philip's apartment at the designated time and was welcomed by nothing less that the Lawrence Welk Show with classic music playing in all its black and white glory. I was entering the home of a truly old soul.
I peered about and was struck by two things- the fantastic orchids that were Philip's second passion and the balls of yarn tucked about the entire apartment, obvious manifestations of his first love- knitting.
Philip dug out some black angora/merino dk weight for me to cast on with, found his favorite hat pattern and set to teaching me the true art of knitting.
The angora caressing my fingers, the sounds of Lawrence Welk, the almost rainforest like environment of orchids and the beautiful man sitting next to me making socks made for an almost other worldly experience. Clearly, I had entered in to another realm, the realm of knitting.
Philip and I continued our occasional forays and even joined his downstairs neighbor- a wonderful old gay who'd been at stonewall and loved to share the stories of his beautiful life. One day we crossed his threshold to find him wearing a shirt stating "I was gay before it was trendy." Indeed he was.
Philip took me to my first real knitting shop. I was drawn then as I am now to the sock yarn. This stuff was beautiful. I finally whittled my desires down to two balls of nearly identical yarn. The only difference, in fact, was colorway. I stood at the checkout counter trying to choose between the earthen blue/green or brown/green wool before me.
Philip looked at me incredulously. "Why choose?" he said. "Because they're $20 each!" I squealed back.
He smiled slightly, realizing that his new knitter was about to learn a valuable lesson. "How much would you spend on a movie?" he asked. I think at the time the going rate was about $10 and I said as much. "And how long will that movie last?" came next. "About two hours." I said. "And how many hours of enjoyment will you get out of that yarn?"
He could see the lights come on. "Ohhh. Hold on while I go get a third." Philip had taught me on of the great knitting lessons. Yarn, even expensive yarn, is pretty darn cheap.
As our knitting affair deepened, Philip mentioned a drop spindle class going on. I think I might have shocked him with how excited I was to go. Together, we learned to make yarn, that very basic foundation for the thing we both loved so much. I hoped that, perhaps, as we developed this shared love together, we might be developing feelings for each other as well.
Our time together included trips to orchid shops, shows and greenhouses too. At some point, I built up my courage, bought an orchid, and left it on Philip's door step with a note saying that it wasn't just his knitting that I enjoyed.
I waited. And waited. And waited.
Finally, I called Philip. He'd found the orchid, but didn't return the feelings. Sadly, my mentor did not care for me like I did him. He was fond of me like a teacher is fond of their third grade student, but no further. My heart was broken but I was reconciled.
At least I got some yarn out of it.