September 14, 2007
I am writing today mostly to brag about my new friend Mareike.
I met Mareike two weeks ago, when Hubbo and I were invited to a back-to-school party hosted by a Vanderbilt professor and his wife whom I’d never met. It was the first time in ages that I had attended a party that involved a keg. How thrilling! How communal! We are all going to drink this thing together! There were dozens of young graduate students speaking foreign languages. People from the Iberian peninsula. People in the back yard playing guitars. For a brief moment, I pretended that I too was an exotic academic, not a suburban knitter with a stale old B.A. in English.
The rumor spread to me that this professor’s wife was a knitter, and that she had published patterns. I forsook the keg in order to find her. “She’s in an orange dress,” I was told, which was helpful considering that there had to be a hundred people in this bungalow. Sure enough, there was Mareike (I kept chanting her name so that I wouldn’t blow it), looking cool in her orange dress. We talked knitting for a minute, but we resolved to continue our conversation when there was less cultural anthropology going on around us.
The next night, Hubbo and I went to see The Doyle and Debbie Show with Mareike and her brilliant hubby Ted and other assorted reprobates. I realized, as we were eating blue cheese polenta fries after the show, that I knew that Mareike knits, but I didn’t know anything else about her. I realized that I’d forgotten, as I often do, that anybody who knits could actually HAVE anything else going on in her life. It was at about that moment that she started speaking in Mayan.
I discovered that she’s working on a dissertation about modern Mayan culture. While cranking out patterns for Knitty and Interweave on the side. And throwing huge parties at her house. And wearing the sort of dress that, the very next day, the New York Times would remind us is the “season’s dominant shade on Fifth Avenue.”
If Mareike weren’t so uncommonly great, I would despise her brainy/knitty/stylish ways.
If you’ve seen the new Knitty, then you have likely seen her pattern, Henry. It’s the handsome herringbone scarf. There are so many things I admire about this pattern. It is knit longways, which to me is much faster than having to turn your work all the time. It uses a slip stitch herringbone pattern that looks like it’s woven. The long edges require cleverness to work, and the resulting edges are exactly what that scarf needs. And it passes that killer test: will a man actually wear it? Her field tests indicate that yes, he will.
I’ll get over this Mareike thing, at some point. Someday . . .