Sunday, January 4, 2009

Knitting in St. Peter's Square and Other Thoughts

pictures: upper -Baldacchino, lower - St. Peter's Square

Our Christmas pilgrimage to Rome and the Vatican City is over and I'm left with the unbelievable memories of a trip of a lifetime. We spent a short 8 days in Rome but managed to visit St. Peter's Basilica, St. Paul Outside the Wall, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, Basilica of San Clemente, Abbe Tre Fontane, numerous local churches, Coliseum, Pantheon, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, Trevi Fountain, and other sites too numerous to mention. The people were friendly, the food and wine incredible, and the highpoint was attending midnight mass inside the basilica.

Knitting fosters a sense of belonging and community and I found this to be true internationally as well. While in line in St. Peter's Square for midnight mass, I was knitting away on my Malabrigo Flying Vee scarf #2 that was to be a belated Christmas gift for my fellow knitting sister. The older woman in front of me kept glancing sideways at me and finally asked me if I spoke Italian. I replied that I spoke a little and did she speak any English. She didn't so we communciated in my limited Italian. It turns out she was also a knitter and admired my circular knitting needle which she had never used. She liked the idea that her stitches wouldn't fall off the needle. She was especially intrigued by the fact that they were square (I was using my new Kollage square circular needle) which she had never seen. The scarf I was knitting was the Flying V Scarf pattern by Iris Schreier. She liked the way it was on the diagonal and wanted to know the pattern. Whew! How to explain this in Italian?? My class didn't cover knitting terms. I knit the left hand Continental way but by using an exaggerated pantomimed English wrapping style along with my Italian I was able to demonstrate the pattern enough that she was nodding and taking notes! I took care to explain that in the beginning, the scarf would look like 2 triangles but that this was "va bene". She took notes on how to end the pattern and then we listened to the sweet acapella caroling of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word who were just ahead of us in line. I like to think that somewhere in a small town outside of Rome there is a knitting group starting their scarves as demonstrated by my new international knitting sister.

Before we left for our trip I scoured the internet and Ravlery for knitting stores in Rome. From reading on Ravelry and talking to my Italian teacher who is from Milan I found out that knitting isn't as popular as it is in the US. I finally located a few stores to try and find if we happened to be in area but unfortunately we never had time to actually find them. However, on one of our walks I noticed a basket of yarn outside the store. It was finely spun kid mohair and I ventured into the store to look for more. I have to admit it was the most unusual "knitting" store that I ever found myself in. The store was a small very cramped space with a few baskets of yarn behind the counter. What was ususual was that the rest of the store was filled floor to ceiling with unusual lingerie apparel and "specialty items". Even though I love to look at yarn, I couldn't bring myself to stay and fondle their yarn! I'm now thankful for all the abundant LYS in my area and that I don't have to shop for yarn in Victoria's Secret.

With the New Year upon us, it's time to make some resolutions. First resolution - do something with my stash. My stash has grown to 4 large rubbermaid totes and I'm starting to fill the cedar chest. My stash resolution is to organize! I want to be able to find the yarn I need for a project without rooting through all the tubs. This will also be a good opportunity to look it all over (gloat gleefully at my stash) and decide if I really want that particular yarn or not. I will set any rejects (sob, sniff) aside and plan a stash swap/trade day with my knitting sibs. Second resolution - finish some of the projects I have in various stages of completion. I'm surely not the only one with unfinished projects, am I? The Ralvelry Olympics was a good incentive to finish some projects so maybe I should think about having a "finishing" deadline and reward myself with a visit to a LYS. Projects to finish: my Italian sweater - I only have the neckline and 2 sleeves to knit..I got sick and had to withdraw from my Italian class so my incentive to finish wasn't there, my pair of socks redux - I finished one and it's a wee bit too short for my long toes so the incentive to complete the other isn't there...perhaps I could gift them to someone, and I also need to finish my black and gray cardigan - this is the furthest from completion so I will need a big incentive to finish it.

Happy knitting to everyone and Buon Natale and Buon Fortuna! Ciao.