Knitting. The manly way to recover from an injury

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  • McCal Roberts with some of his knitted work.

    McCal Roberts with some of his knitted work.


It happened in a flash. One moment McCal Roberts was chatting in a restaurant kitchen, the next minute an industrial-sized box of foil fell, slicing his hand open with the serrated edge.

He was left with a cut across the palm of his hand that required several stitches. When his hand healed he found that one of his fingers would not move.

The accident made it difficult for the author and filmmaker to write or work a camera. His doctor suggested what Mr Roberts considered a radical therapy — knitting.

“When the doctor suggested I try knitting and crocheting, I said, ‘well that isn’t too masculine’,” said Mr Roberts. “I said, jokingly, ‘can’t I lift some bricks or something instead?’”

The doctor insisted he needed to move his finger around 5,000 times a day to get the full range of motion back. Knitting and crocheting are good ways to do this.

“A lady in Somerset called Gladys Smith sat down with me for the whole month of November,” said Mr Roberts. “She was patient enough to teach me how to do knitting and crocheting.”

When he appeared at The Royal Gazette he was wearing a grey hat and scarf knitted by his mentor, Mrs Smith.

“It took me 31 days to learn,” he said. “She was just doing it so fast. She and other ladies who knitted with her said, ‘you are not going to get it now, just take your time’.”

For a while, Mr Roberts became frustrated. He literally tied himself in knots, because he couldn’t figure out how to make the stitches. Then one day he was at home and decided he was going to learn to do the basic knitting stitches “knit one, purl two” if it killed him.

“So I got up and started doing it,” he said. “I made a lot of mistakes. Then one day I just woke up and I got it. I started making hats and scarves and mittens.”

He is considering creating a DVD to show people how to knit as people could slow it down as often as they wanted to watch how the stitches are done.

Sticking to it proved to be well worth it for him, as not only did he get he get the movement back in his fingers after several weeks of the activity, but he really caught the knitting bug.

“It is very relaxing,” he said. “It is also time-consuming, but at least you have something to show for your time.”

He hopes to eventually become adept enough at knitting to donate some of his work to charity to keep needy heads and necks warm this winter.

“Gibbons Company is my best friend as that is where I get my yarn and wool from,” he said. “When you get to the point where you can get the simple pattern you can start doing your own thing.”

Now he has dreams of starting his own knitting and crocheting magazine to bring the knitting community together.

“My fingers are all moving properly now so I can start writing again,” he said. “I will probably have my magazine finished in February or March. I am doing knitting and crocheting now for my family and friends. I am not at the point where I could sell my work, but I can see where it is a great business for anyone. In the wintertime people need hats and scarves. I think once I launch the magazine, I will be ready to sell my own patterns that you will be able to buy online.”

Mr Roberts also found knitting enjoyable because of all the creative possibilities: from the colours of the wool to the pattern and design of the item. He thought picking the right pattern was one of the challenges of knitting.

“If you do something simple it is easy, but if you pick something complicated you have to figure out the pattern,” he said. “Some people can read patterns and some people can’t. My teacher couldn’t read patterns. I think she learned how to knit when she was young.”

As to whether knitting was going to catch on with the rest of his gender, he wasn’t holding out much hope.

“No way,” he said.

But in true masculine style he was thinking of buying a knitting machine to do all the work for him, once he worked out his new patterns.

Useful website: www.knitonthenet.com/issue4/features/therapeuticknitting/ .

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Published Dec 31, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 30, 2012 at 2:42 pm)

Knitting. The manly way to recover from an injury

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