Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Things We Take For Granted: Sheep

I know that there are knitters out there who are wool-sensitive. Indeed, I've even contributed to Amy Singer's bible on the topic, No Sheep For You.

And I've certainly answered a lot of questions from knitters about non-wool sock yarns, and about good non-wool yarn substitutions in general.

Me, I'm the opposite of wool-sensitive. It's far and away my favourite fibre (yes, ok, I do love cashmere and the softer members of the wooly family), and I can wear some pretty scary scratchy sweaters without complaint. (I will wear Kureyon and Lopi next to my skin!) And so although I understood the problem intellectually, I'd never really internalized it. Indeed, I will admit that in the past I was one of those knitters who didn't really believe it was an actual allergy, that it was just a point of preference. Working with Amy disabused me of that notion some time ago... but that doesn't mean I've ever really thought about what it might mean when I teach classes.

Last night the whole thing was brought home to me in a way it never had been before.

A lovely knitter by the name of H. was in my class. The topic was Fixing Mistakes, and a key part of the class is having the students examine some mistake-ridden swatches I've prepared for the class.

(It leads into a fun discussion about the types of mistakes that you do have to fix vs. the types of mistakes you don't have to fix. I'm a pragmatist, after all. If the sweater isn't going to fall apart, if the pattering is working out, and the mistake isn't [very] visible, then why bother?)

And my swatches are all in wool.

H. is very wool-sensitive. Very. To the point where she took an antihistamine before she came to the class -- since she knew she'd be surrounded by wool.

I'd never considered that my teaching swatches might be a problem.

Lesson learnt. Thanks, H.

No comments: