A brief history, part 1
by Corrie Watt, aka CyberCrone
A year and a half—and a bit more—ago, when I launched Lucy’s redesigned (refactored – for you techies out there) website, someone who shall remain nameless (to protect Lucy’s identity), asked me: “Would you write me a guest blog post on how you came to be a computer geek in your dotage? A couple of knitters at my last workshop wanted to know.”
This was at 6:30 am; it was early enough for me to answer without thinking: “Sure, that might be fun!” Yes, at Lucy Neatby Designs we do start early in the morning.
So, now I am committed. A single guest post? Not likely it could all be done in one post! “OK, why don’t you do a series of posts, then?”
My journey to computer geekdom is intricately entwined with the history of the Lucy Neatby Designs enterprise: this history probably ought to be recorded, just in case Lucy becomes famous someday.
What to write? The problem is always with the beginning. How much background information? How many rambling anecdotes? Happily, you are not being forced at knitting-needle-point to read any of this, so I can write whatever I like! When you find it TL-DR, just click back to your regularly scheduled life; I won’t know. Honest.
Is this all true?
Reader’s advisory: Since I did not keep a diary, all of this early history is written from my memory, and by searching for artifacts of the past. Where I could, I tapped Lucy’s memory as well. Memories being the mutable squishy-ware that they are, my remembered ‘facts’ might be off in time or hue every so often, for which I apologize in advance. On the other hand, if any of you have charming or hilarious anecdotes from Lucy’s early days to contribute, please do so in the comments section below—we would all dearly love to read them.
A long time ago, in a land right about here…
A long time ago (early in 1991), when I was ripening into a middle-aged housewife, before the Internet and the World Wide Web, and a very long time before iThings—and even before there were blackberries that weren’t fruits—two knitters met in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Up to that time, I was quite sure there were NO other knitters here—I had lived here for two decades, always on the lookout for fellow knitters: none were ever sighted. The local yarn stores, where proper wool had once been available, had disappeared, to be replaced with big-box ‘craft’ shops replete with bales of bright acrylic and other plastic yarns (camouflage Phentex, anyone?).
Real wool, never mind high-quality wool, was rare as knitters with only one WIP and no stash. The knitting scene here was dismal, so I looked for another hobby to help me through these dark times. I took up writing letters to the editor, any editor, among other things.
There was some hope, however. The previous year (1990), at the Halifax Craft and Needlework Show, I had been elated to see a little booth advertising the possible launch of “The Knitting Guild of Canada”.
And then came Knitters’ Forum
A knitting guild? In Canada? Woohoo…
I signed up for further information. It would probably never happen, but…a guild membership form arrived from Ontario early in the next year: the envelope was addressed in gold ink! The first issue of the guild’s newsletter, Knitters’ Forum, soon arrived in my mailbox. It, too, was addressed in gold ink: It made me feel quite special.
(Did I tell you there was at this time no World Wide Web, no Ravelry, no email, no Google Search?) Here I was suddenly given a magic connection to other Canadian knitters—right across the country! Yes, it was a Very Good Thing.
In my guise as writer of letters-to-the-editor, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Knitting Guild of Canada; it was published in the next month’s Knitters’ Forum. Lucy, who had recently subscribed to the Guild, came upon it and, being as keen for the company of other knitters as I was, wrote to the editor to ask for my contact information. The editor (Cindy N.) wrote me, letting me know of Lucy’s request, and including Lucy’s phone number “should I wish to contact her”. Luckily, Lucy lived just across the harbour in Dartmouth! Did I wish to contact her? Yes, I did. I suspect I phoned her before I even finished reading the note… (Yes, on my land-line phone attached to the wall; only the rich-and-famous had shoe-phones or cell phones).
This entire letter-to-phonecall event sequence took over a month from start to finish. Can you imagine being that patient today? I have a friend who emails me, and after waiting for an answer for a whole hour, phones me to tell me she sent me an email! Yes, we old folks occasionally have odd ways of adapting to online culture.
The day after the phone call, Lucy was standing on my doorstep, a young woman wearing a stunning fine-gauge intarsia vest (Garden Path, I believe), and life became very interesting again.
I had thought that I was a very capable (i.e. awesome) knitter, but this vest made my jaw drop—and she had designed it herself—and then there was her freshly-imported British accent and brilliant smile…
To be continued…