Authors: Betty Hechtman
“I didn’t get a chance to tell her about the kits I’m going to sell,” Elise Belmont said. She’d extracted one from her bag and put it on the table. “If she’d seen these, she wouldn’t have been so worried. We’re going a sell a million of them,” then Elise caught herself. “Or at least the whole stock. Do you want to see all the different kinds?” she asked.
Elise was a small woman with wispy brown hair. She seemed a little vague until you knew her and then it was obvious she had a steel core, even if she did look like a good gust of wind could carry her off. The group shook their heads at her offer. We didn’t need to see the kits; we knew what they were.
I sometimes wondered what Elise’s husband must have thought about her love affair with the character of Anthony, the crocheting vampire. She’d read all the books, seen the movie made from the first book countless times and even gotten CeeCee to get the film’s star to sign a life-size cutout. What did Logan Belmont think of having a full-size figure of Hugh Jackman staring at them as they slept?
The kit on the table was the first one she’d made for her vampire scarf. It had black and white stripes with a red tassel, or what she called “traditional vampire colors.” The white was for their pale colorless skin, the black was for their clothing choice, and the red—I’m guessing you can figure that one out. Her stitch of choice was the half double crochet, which she insisted looked like a fang.
Rhoda Klein rolled her eyes. She was a matter-of-fact sort of person with short brown hair and sensible clothes who couldn’t understand an imaginary affair with a literary blood sucker. “I think Mrs. Shedd would be more interested in the free crochet lessons we’re going to offer.”
“Did I miss something?” Eduardo Linnares said as he joined us at the table. He was holding a garment bag and laid it on the chair next to him. “I brought what you asked for,” he said. Dinah suggested he show it to us. Eduardo had been a cover model until recently. He’d been on countless covers of romance novels dressed as pirates, wealthy tycoons, cowboys, and assorted other hero types. The one thing all the pictures had in common was that his shirt always seemed to be unbuttoned down the front. When he started being cast as the pirate’s father and pushed into the background on the covers, he’d decided it was time to move on and he’d bought an upscale drugstore in Encino. We were asking him to go back to the old days for the weekend.
He opened the garment bag and laid a pair of leather pants and a billowing white shirt on the table. The plan was that dressed in that outfit, he’d attract a lot of people, well women, to our booth.
“Anything to help out,” he said. Like all of the hookers, he was grateful to the bookstore for giving us a place to meet. He’d been a lonely crocheter until he’d found us. The plan was that he would teach his specialty. It was hard to believe with his big hands, but he was a master with a small steel hook and thread. He’d learned Irish crochet, which was really lace, from his grandmother on his mother’s side.
Sheila Altman came in at the end. When she realized she’d missed everything, her brows immediately knit together and she started to go into panic mode. Somebody yelled to get her a hook and some yarn. Sheila was actually much better than she’d been, but she still had relapses, and nothing calmed her better or faster than crocheting. Adele made a length of chain stitches before handing it to Sheila, who immediately began to make single crochets across. She didn’t even look at the stitches or care that they were uneven; the point was just to do them and take a few deep breaths. After a few minutes she sank into a chair. “That’s what I’m going to teach at the booth,” she said with a relieved sigh. “How to relax.”
We talked over our plan of action for a few minutes. Who was going to be in the booth when and what they were going to be doing. Sheila put down the crochet hook and took out a zippered plastic bag with a supply of yarn in greens, blues and lavender. “I thought I could sell kits, too, if it’s all right.” She showed off the directions for a scarf.
Sheila was known for making shawls, blankets and scarves using a combination of those colors. Her pieces came out looking like an impressionist painting. I told her it was fine and it was agreed that the kits would be sold only when the two women were there to oversee them.
With everything agreed upon, we all started working on our projects. The two new women asked if it was okay if they stayed and we all agreed. Adele sucked in her breath when they took out knitting needles and began to cast on stitches with the yarn they’d just bought.
“Calm down,” I said to her. “None of us like the way knitters treat us like we’re the stepsisters of yarn craft. But we’d be just as bad if we treated knitters the same way.”
Adele started to protest, but finally gave in and went back to working on a scarf made out of squares with different motifs.
Dinah moved closer to me. “You said there was something you wanted to talk about?”
I was hoping for a more private situation. Not that I had secrets from the rest of the group. One of the beauties about our group was that we shared our lives with one another. Good, bad, happy and sad. Still, I wasn’t quite ready to share my decision with all of them. Not until I saw how it worked out.
Before I could even say this wasn’t the best place to talk, CeeCee interrupted. “We need to talk now.” She looked around and saw that Mrs. Shedd had gotten all the way to the front of the store. CeeCee moved in closer, making it clear what she was about to say was just between us and probably some sort of problem. “When K.D. decided to bring crochet into the show, she asked my advice about classes and I suggested Adele. All the knitting classes are taught by elite knitters who have written pattern books and traveled around doing workshops. She called them the knitterati.” CeeCee turned toward Adele. “She found some master knitters who knew about crochet to teach the crochet classes, but to get to the bottom line, K.D. now has her doubts about having you teaching a class. And to be honest, there haven’t been a lot of sign-ups.”
I watched the whole group suck in their breath and prepare for Adele’s reaction. As predicted, Adele seemed shocked and huffed and puffed that she was more qualified to teach the class than all the famous yarn people. CeeCee put up her hand to stop Adele. “The point is, K.D. would like you to give her a personal demonstration.” Before Adele could object, CeeCee added that it wasn’t a request, it was a command and that K.D. would just cancel the class otherwise.
Adele absorbed the information and begrudgingly, she said she would do it. There was no way I was going to let Adele go alone. Who knew what she would do? Adele actually seemed relieved when I suggested going along.
“I’m going, too,” CeeCee said. “My reputation is at stake, since I am the crochet liaison for the show.” She looked from Adele to me. “Did I mention she’s expecting Adele tomorrow morning?”
Adele began to sputter about having to audition and the fact she hadn’t been consulted about the meeting time, but CeeCee made it clear she had no choice and we agreed to meet at the bookstore and go together. I was grateful there was a few minutes of peaceful yarn work before the group broke up.
As I got up from the table, Dinah linked arms with me.
“Now we can talk.”