Before too many days had passed, Lucy introduced me to Susan. H., another passionate knitter and an all-around clever person, recently arrived from the other end of Canada. She and Lucy had met at New-Comers Club (meet-and-greet organization for new arrivals to the city) a few months earlier, and the three of us became a proto-knitting group.
Knitters B.I. (Before Internet)…
A half-dozen more knitters emerged from the Halifax-Dartmouth woodwork over the next couple of months, and regular knitting gatherings began to happen. In those days, that was the way one shared knitting books and magazines, bitched about various injustices and the weather, and revealed sources of knitting treasures. (All this can be had through Ravelry and other websites now!)
There were knitters amongst us who did not know of the existence of the Barbara Walker Treasuries! Our public library once (maybe more times?) had them, but they were quickly stolen— a testament to their value! I had borrowed them frequently enough to realize that I needed my own copies. They really are treasuries. In the four decades I have been using them, I have found only one or two pattern errors. Many other stitch-pattern collections beat that by at least ten-fold.
Some of our new members were experienced knitters, but most were just beginning to explore the craft, happy to have such a wonderful resource. We had way too much fun, and the word got out: our knitting meetings became so popular that we could not fit the crowd into any of our living rooms any more! By the time people wound up having to sit on the stairs and the floor, we decided a new venue was needed. We started meeting at historic Scott Manor House in Bedford. Our craft fit in very comfortably : the house was built around 1800, and contains many tools and furniture from back then. Knitting and spinning were everyday household activities!
A few years later, we were ‘forced’ to incorporate our large informal group into a properly registered guild: We became the Nova Scotia Knitting and Cocoa Society. It was all for the sake of filthy lucre: there were going to be grants for workshops and events available to registered guilds during the provincial Year of The Needle Arts.
The name Nova Scotia Knitting and Cocoa Society had a strange birth. At that time, there was a comedy group called ‘Codco!’ active in this region. We quite liked them, and we agreed that we were all funny enough to call our knitting group ‘Knitco!’. When I went into the offices of the place where one does all the registering of ‘societies’ (yeah, you already know the chorus…..no Internet, ergo no online forms), filled out and signed all the requisite forms in triplicate, I was advised that ‘Knitco!’ was NOT ALLOWED as a name for a society. What to do? So, on the spur of the moment, knowing that we all agreed we wanted to be Knitco, I made up the name Nova Scotia Knitting and Cocoa Society (which could still be Knitco for short!). Weirdly enough, this name was acceptable to the Bureaucrat in Charge.
A daring career move…
Around that same time, egged on mightily by a few of us knitters, Lucy began her teaching career, giving knitting classes at the Fleece Artist yarn shop, and even publishing some of her patterns.
The patterns were typed on a typewriter (some of you will remember this incredible piece of technology). To print copies to mail to customers, we used a photocopier! Knitting charts were hand-drawn on graph paper, and diagrams were sketched free-hand on paper, and then pasted onto the pattern.
Although their beloved yarn shop has ceased to be, the Fleece Artist still produces gorgeous hand-painted yarns, including the Cats Pyjamas and Celestial Merino yarns for Lucy Neatby Designs.
Lucy’s patterns are now typed and composed on a laptop using over-priced modern layout software, and distributed as pdf files to download, instead of mailed to you in a big envelope. The diagrams are now done in even more over-priced software, rather than in easy-to-control-the-outcome pencil/pen.
Susan H. has moved back to the other side of Canada, but thanks to this cool thing called The Internet, she is still an integral part of Tradewind Knitwear Designs. Knitting together via Skype is not so great, however; somebody needs to improve on that! Teleportation, anyone?
To be continued…