When I met Rico, a friend of my then-boyfriend Justin, I was knitting a pair of fingerless gloves with a band of skulls around the top of the palm for the boyfriend. Rico was very, very impressed, and requested a pair. I said “sure.”
Months later, I still hadn’t delivered, and Rico began the most intense knitting-related pressure campaign I have ever witnessed. He managed to work the topic of fingerless gloves into every conversation. He briefly discussed an upcoming trip to Europe for work and how the cool fall weather would make gloves absolutely necessary, and how the fingers of traditional gloves hamper the recording and note-taking of reporters like himself. Occasionally I’d get inquiries about the progress of the gloves, and I’d make lame excuses as to why they weren’t done, since at the time I was so busy I was barely knitting at all. Finally, I received a MySpace message mentioning that he would be in town and would like to visit Justin and me, and how boy howdy it sure would be awesome if he could collect those gloves.
In short, he badgered me into making gloves for him, set a concrete deadline and leavened the pressure with such obviously genuine enthusiasm that I just couldn’t get mad.
I’d intended to use the same pattern I’d used on Justin’s gloves, but it would’ve taken weeks to decode my elaborate original pattern. The notes on the short-rowing across the knuckles and careful shaping at the base of the thumb were scrawled in tiny letters on knitter’s graph paper around an outline of a hand, with stray numbers, row counts and scratched-out notes popping up like dandelions on a schoolyard lawn in summer. I scrapped it, dug some heathered merino out of the stash, drew out my skull chart again, printed out a copy of Knucks and went to work. I knitted until my fingertips went numb but by god I had those gloves finished and perfect a day before his arrival in town.
(One lesson I got from this was that I am capable of working amazingly well when someone applies the right balance of relentless prodding and cheerful encouragement. I’ve actually started inviting people I freelance for to harass me like this, since it keeps communication clear and keeps me on track. My medium-to-long-term goal is to learn to manage myself like this, so others don’t have to.)
I sent Rico a message that the gloves were done. He picked them up a few days later, completely delighted, and then the follow-up campaign began.
Usually, when I knit someone a gift, I hand it over and it disappears. (Literally, for the original skull gloves — they were stolen when Justin took them to Sweden.) This was different: Rico constantly kept me posted on how excited he was about the gloves and how and where he’d wear them.
He started off by wearing them all week after he got them, even though they made his hands sweat in the LA heat. Word got around about the gloves, and mutual friends would corner me to ask about them. He wore them when his friend took his picture. And made a point of crediting me every time he mentioned the gloves in person or online.
This is the kind of person to knit for.
And best of all, in an unexpected turn, he’s now mine to knit for whenever I want.