The shop gets awfully noisy at this time of year. I had to ask a caller to speak up on the phone yesterday against a background din of the reciept printer that was churning out a mile-long scroll of customer orders. Meanwhile the tape dispenser was burping its mechanical grrtttt noise at regular intervals as Vicky wrapped up the parcels. But the voice on the end of the phone sounded urgent: ‘I need a knitter. Can you help?’
‘I might be able to. Tell me more about what you need. And please speak up, it’s a bit noisy in here.’
‘I’m working on a film production. We need a fairisle scarf knitted for tomorrow’.
The reciept printer made a smug slicing noise as it reached the end of its part of the job. There were folds of paper spilling across the table. I squeezed the phone reciever between my cheek and my shoulder to free my hands so that I could reach for the scissors and begin cutting the printout into separate orders and start packing them. I was also calculating if I’d have time to write a proper note to each customer given that we had approximately 253 minutes to get them packed and into the post sack in time for the collection at 4pm.
‘A fairisle scarf for tomorrow? And you want it hand knitted?’
‘Yes, it has to be hand-knitted and we need it tomorrow. Also..’
‘Yes, also it needs to be.. It needs to be long. About 2.5 metres’
My receipt roll was now cut up into a neat pile of separate orders and I was stapling each one to a Wild and Woolly card. I parked my order-counting thoughts to one side, and focused on her question: A 2.5m fairlise scarf in 24 hours. Perhaps. If you leave out sleep, and only have liquid food through a straw so that you eat while you knit. And you don’t make any mistakes and have to undo anything. No. Just no. It might technically be called knitting, but it’s not ok knitting, and not a task I want to forward to any knitter I know.
‘I’m afraid not. You need more time to hand knit a 2.5m long fairisle scarf.’
‘But it’s really urgent’.
‘I’m sorry about that. It’s not how we knit’.
The call ended and I turned back to my order pile, and looked at the time. I now had 248 minutes left until the post collection.
The first order was for Lanivendole Heavenly, a yarn that I’d knitted into a shawl currently wrapped around my neck, now slightly sore from the awkward way I’d wedged in the telephone receiver. The shawl was soft and comforting. I picked up my pen and wrote a note to tell the customer how lovely his choice was. I didn’t look at the clock again, but simply spent the time it took to write to each customer in the pile. Not surprisingly they didn’t all make it into that day’s post. I knew they were urgent, but I decided the orders were about knitting and knitters, and that was more important than urgent.