Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Knitting (Πλέξιμο)

It had been about seven years since I last knitted anything, as there didn't seem to be any need to knit anything. New Zealand, like the UK and the US, is knitter's paradise; people love showing off their craftwork and complementing others for it. I used to knit a lot when I was living there, but I noticed how unnecessary most of my works were in Greece, because it is simply too hot for woollen clothing. I've kept a good number of my woollen creations, mainly because of the great amount of work I had put in them; it didn't feel right to give them to a charity shop or leave them in a bag outside a church, because these kinds of items are not appreciated by locals. They aren't really useful, and they are generally not worn these days.

Mittens made with 4-ply pure wool, and a scarf being made with Greek BONSAI yarn
Now that my children are becoming more fashion conscious, they are asking for accessories like scarves and gloves. In my time, I've knitted countless pairs of the latter. Among the material possessions I transported from NZ to Greece were a few of my favorite knitting patterns and my knitting needles; I'm really glad now that I did because equipping yourself for hobby purposes can be quite a costly outlay. In my youth, I knew them almost off by heart; when you knit a pattern very often, it's like a recipe that you don't need to consult a cookbook to make. Nevertheless, patterns for making just about anything are now available not just on websites, but even on youtube videos, to guide you through the whole process.

Keyhole scarf made with eyelash yarn
My kids' interest gave me a chance to survery the yarn market in Hania. There are only two shops in Hania selling various yarns, which may say something about the popularity of yarn crafts. At the same time, it should be mentioned that local radio is now advertising knitting lessons, no doubt one of the side effects of the economic crisis. These kinds of novelties followed on from sewing lessons which teach ot just how to sew your own clothes, but how to give your old clothes a makeover.

Although beautiful soft non-scratch woollen yarns exist, they are not so popular here because they are more expensive, but the yarn market has also grown in the last decade due to advances in technology. Polyamide yarn mixes, available in a wide variety of forms, are now very popular all over the world. Although they cannot be described as very cheap, you usually need only one ball of wool to make a fashionable scarf or a pair of gloves, for instance. In terms of prices, Hania is not much more expensive than a small town in Holland, for example, where I picked up some interesting yarns while holidaying there, but I notice that similar yarns are also sold in Hania at similar prices.

Ruffled scarf yarn, thanks to technological advances
Knitting has similar therapeutic qualities as reading a book that isn't very demanding, like chick lit. As I waited for my daughter's basketball session to finish, I sat in the small gymnasium knitting a very colourful scarf in simple garter stitch (for the uninitiated, knitting doesn't get any easier than that). The stares I got were enough to make me move to a more isolated spot away from the team's eyes, which were more often centred on the scarf rather than the game - I don't know what intrigued people more: the yarn or the knitting process.

Once you know the basic stitches, knitting requires patience and a determination to finish a project; both virtues are highly essential in a society that is trying to rebuild itself after suffering a fast-paced domino-like path of destruction. Athens and New York share a similar plight, in the sense that they need to rebuild something that took decades to construct and only a very short time to annihilate. But they don't share the same theory on how to resolve these problems, as the following paragraph, written in Greek in the original, shows:
Anti-capitalists may be pleased to see the hub of capitalism being hit so hard by something it could not control. I am happy for what I saw happening for another reason: I saw a city and its citizens learning from past events, I saw the wider state infrastructure in the face of a black president who took action despite the pre-election period, I saw people knowing how to judge which channels, which photos, which blogs they should believe. I saw homeless people being removed from the area of danger, shops being protected, neighbours helping others, I saw firemen and police officers in their posts, people accepting humour at their expense, even directing sarcastic comments at themselves, with the self-confidence that you can only have from the security of the knowledge that you can rebuild what is being destroyed. I saw a city that works, one which we don't want to be like.
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