Wednesday, April 27, 2011


As an adolescent, I attended a feminist-leaning private school the philosophy of which is: Ladies pour tea. Women change the world. As you can imagine, they did not teach us how to type. And it's a crying shame, really, because competent touch typing is amongst the most useful life skills any person can acquire.

When I met my husband he was shocked to learn about this oversight in my education. He went out and bought me Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing for my first edition Mac Classic. To give you some understanding of the state of technology at the time: within 2 hours I was typing faster than the cursor could move and display the letters. And, at that point, I was not typing particularly fast.

Within a month, I went from pecking the keyboard like a doofus, to touch typing with agility. I worked constantly to improve. To me, it was a test. To me, all tests are games. I wanted to win at typing. And win I did. Pretty soon, I could converse (not about world philosophy, mind you) and type at the same time. It never ceases to delight me that I can feel my brain slip into another gear while I’m tapping away…

All this is a preamble to my latest epiphany (big shock, I know!): knitting and typing are not dissimilar. Both centre on hands. They’re entirely practical. And they both rely on – or at least benefit tremendously from - switching into a new mental groove. While your brain is ticking along, appreciating the scenery in Knitlandia, your mind is liberated from the regular ties that bind. Funny really, how making knots brings freedom, but there you are.

Let’s not forget, that both have been indelibly stamped on that dingy double-sided coin: enslavement / emancipation – particularly as they relate to the women who have worked in the realm (and in the day). I love how domestic arts (aka the things that make the world go around in a very real way) have been reclaimed by a new generation of men and women. We need to maintain the knowledge-base; we cannot leave these languages for dead.

I have always had a great affinity for women’s work: cooking, baking, interior design, typing, fashion, sewing, entertaining – and the list goes on.

They are elegant expressions of creativity which nurture both the artist and recipient. They make everyday things utterly gorgeous – while they actually take you where you need to go.

So, in the spirit of moving my hands to free my mind, I continue to pursue my new hobby in these ways:

  • Located a knitting shop (and instruction hub) that suits my aesthetic. I must attend one of their knitting evenings…
  • Watched and rewatched a number of incredibly instructive videos on
  • Purchased and read Stitch 'n Bitch. I don’t have patience to wait for my ordered books to arrive...
  • Purchased a few additional supplies to support my practice swatches (crochet hook, anyone??)
  • Taught my daughter how to long tail cast on
  • Created gauge swatches in stockinette, garter, moss and rib (aka practice patches to figure out tension, mostly)
  • Chatted with anyone I can find about their scarves and whether they knit them and what do they know about knitting, please and thanks
  • Sewed up a few rows “in the round” – to see how one creates a continuous cylinder

I’m having lots of fun – and I don’t even feel like I’m cheating on my sewing.


  1. It is really a shame that feminist movers and shakers had so much disdain for the domestic arts. As you say, in the case of typing, it turned out to be terribly impractical not to teach women to type!

    I am glad you are enjoying knitting and that your daughter is also getting into the spirit of things.

  2. Welcome! I knit during the winter months. Weird, I know and you'd laugh at the winters we have in Georgia. Anyway, enjoy and it's not cheating on's enhancing your creative mind :) I love my Knit Picks Options and my yarns.

  3. I can't figure out why I can't be a lady that does domestic things and also be a woman who changes the world. But then, I always did insist on "having my cake and eating it too", because really, what good is cake if I can't eat it? ;-)

    I agree though--we can't let future generations not know the womanly arts. Though I confess I never thought of typing to be something only "ladies" should learn....

  4. Yeah for the pink jobs! Isn't ironic how typing was once considered a pink job and now it's a requirement to survive in today's tech based world.

    I too learned how to type using Mavis Beacon teaches typing. I followed your link and was sad to learn that Mavis was a fictional character. I thought she was real!


  5. What a great post! I do think that knitting can put you into a flow really similar to typing. It's got a fabulous zen rhythm to me, which is very meditative to me. It's an activity that I'm fine just blissfully knitting, rather than being completely results oriented. I know that you're very results oriented, and I'm excited to see what you create tying knots..

  6. And here I was stopping by to belatedly offer my encouragement in your knitting endeavour, only to discover that you're already mastering it! I would highly recommend a knitting class at your local yarn shop, as it offers a chance to boost your skills considerably in the most efficient way possible. What I did was to master the basic skills first, then I took a class on making socks, where I learned techniques that would've taken me ages to learn on my own.

  7. I took up knitting a few years ago, but I never got very good at it. I made a few scarves, but couldn't seem to surpass that genre. I have to admit that it was a relaxing and liberating activity. I think if other things hadn't been making life especially nutty about four-fie years ago, I might have stuck with it and mastered hats and socks. Maybe someday I'll get into it again.

  8. Susan: I understand where they were coming from - it was all they had and it wasn't voluntary - but still!

    Carla: I love it - I'm enhancing my creative mind!!

    CGC: What's great is that now we can all learn about the domestic arts - woman or man. So you can do half of them, and your husband the other half :-)

    Christiana: A partner in Mavis Beacon! It was a good teaching technique - yes?

    LAP: I'm trying to use craft to help me move from "obsessed with final result" to "peaceful in the moment". It's a trip :-)

    Audi: I need all the encouragement I can get!!! Stop by in a week when I may be pulling my hair out :-)

    R: There's time to get into it - no rush. I mean, it took me 40 years to get this far and I haven't even begun :-)

  9. I learned to touch type in a Co-Ed secondary school where it was part of the Commerce Curriculum, along with Book Keeping and Consumer Ed.
    Unfortunately I only got as far as the letters on the old Leica typewriters before becoming rampantly interested in boys and messing around. To this day I have to be able to see the keys to type numbers or extended punctuation. Makes typing in the dark difficult - essential when you are a mom-blogger.
    enjoy the knitting