King Arthur’s was round, the Apostles’ was long, Number 10’s is oval. Tables and their shapes are important – they define the space and say something about what gets done around there. When I searched for the table for knitters to sit around in the shop, I knew I wanted it to feel like everyone fitted there. The one I found was square and somehow seemed at home from the beginning.
Over time the table became a place where knitters told their stories, created new ones, and filled the shop with their busy-ness and artfulness. It’s where lost stitches were found, and rogue stitches removed. It was a place where the mysteries of magic looping, brioche, short rows, invisible cast-ons, differently-leaning decreases, and endless looping through loops to make fabric, were resolved.
But in the new COVID-19 compliant world of remote wool shopping, the table lost it’s knitters, and became home to a jumble of packing materials and label printers. The endless unplugging and rearranging suggested that the table didn’t get on nearly as well with online knitters as real life ones.
It seems like different times call for different tables.
Thankfully, Joe from the old furniture shop down the road, had just the right one for the job: long, narrow and on wheels, and with a proven track record as a college workbench. He dropped it off just before the lockdown and together we angled it through the slightly too-narrow doorway. Joe left, and I respectfully lowered the extended leaves of the square table and pushed it into the kitchen at the back for safe keeping. And there was a part of me that wanted to tell the old square table, we will be back again like before. This isn’t forever. It’s just for this strange time. But perhaps better not dwell too long on the shopkeeper who talks to her furniture. Afterall we know that tables can’t talk or even listen. But perhaps they can hold our memories of what happened there, and with them also hold the promise that those things will be able to happen again.