Lovely Old ManSeptember 12, 2006
I was at Lacis today, and I have to tell you what I heard. First, though, I have to make sure you know about Lacis, which is like nothing (literally) in this hemisphere, and perhaps the world. It is an old-fashioned notions/lace/craft shop, but when you hear old-fashioned, think turn-of-the-century. Pick a century. They not only have books about tatting, and tens of shuttles, they PUBLISH books on tatting. They have an antique lace room, where the pieces are so numerous they lie in drawers, waiting for you to pull and ogle. They have a bride's room (I bought my veil there and have never felt so breakable and Anne-ish and lovely). A book room with books on knitting and crocheting and SO much about bobbin lace (who does bobbin lace? If you do, get thee to Lacis, even if you need to charter a flight), and Japanese crewel-work, and every embroidery idea you ever had. Can't describe the wonders, really. Bethany, who tats, was beside herself.
I went today to look for buttons for the new sweater (picture soon! Pinky-swear!), and didn't see any. Asked desultorily about some deco buttons I saw hanging in a corner, never thinking they had any more that the two shown (I needed seven). The gal behind the button counter didn't let me get away with mere idle questioning, but asked what I needed them for, and then when she saw the sweater, pulled out boxes upon boxes. I finally settle on some vegetable ivory buttons from the 30s, a dollar each. A buck. Dude. They're perfect.
But that's not the story.
So I'm back near the book section, and I can overhear an old man speaking, a lovely old man with the crispest British accent, and he's speaking to the manager (who is the one of the most gorgeous women I've ever laid eyes on, I always think so, tall, beautiful heavy black dreadlocks heaped in a Victorian fashion on her head, vintage clothing and high heels, and today, gasp, fishnets).
Lovely Old English Man is saying, "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do knit. It's a funny story, quite amusing. You might like it. It was during the war that I learned. I was in hospital, recovering from quite a bad wound, and I'd learned to knit from a nurse. It was part of my rehabilitation, you see. So I cast on for a scarf. I knit, and I kept knitting. Funny thing, I didn't know how to stop, so I just kept knitting. It wasn't until a beautiful woman taught me how to cast off that I finally stopped, but by then the scarf was amazingly long, went for days, that scarf."
Here I lost the audio, while the manager asked him something. When I caught it again, as I crept closer and closer, he was saying, "so the tragedy was that I pulled all that work out. For her. Greatest act of love, I always thought. That I pulled all that knitting out."
The manager said, "What happened? With the girl?"
"Oh," he said. "She was much too pretty for the likes of me. Never did get her. Looked her up, though. A few years ago. I called the parish she was from, and the woman told me, 'I'm so sorry to have to tell you she died, not long ago. A good life, though. Especially in the end. Much love and time in the garden and with her family. A very good life.'"
He paused. "Never forgot her. Much too pretty for me, that one."
Seriously, to DIE, isn't it?
I was standing near him later and jumped into a conversation he was having with another employee -- he wanted to know if sock knitting was ever mechanized, and he said that he thought not, not until this century, and I butted in and told him about sock-knitting machines, the hand-crank kind, about which I apparently know NOTHING, but I'm going to research and send him the info. I was rather smitten by this point and would have told him anything just to talk with him.
He's researching a book he's writing about the war, and started telling me about how the British women would paint their legs brown, with a black stripe up the back during the war, and how well the American soldiers would get on with their girls, because they'd come over with silk.
I opened my mouth to tell him about the gal I'd seen at a bar recently who had tattooed lines up the backs of her legs (HOT), and then I sensibly shut my yap. While I love this tattoo idea, I think I would have horrified my man, and I have to keep him in my pocket, so I can listen to him some more.
Now I'm off to research sock-knitting machines. Anyone?