Wednesday, so the shop is open late for knit night. The annual inventory sale is on to let the winter wools make way for the summer cottons and linens. Amongst the little plastic stem glasses of red wine and the larger paper cups of coffee and tea are lots of turquoise shopping bags, filled with bargains of bulky alpaca and soon-to-be-back-issues of Rowan magazine.
There's always a crowd on knit night, and despite the cold weather alert the shop is packed with women attempting to catch up on their projects, take their turn being queen bee, and snag some deals, all at the same time. The group is divided into four or five knots of knitters, depending on where in the room they're sitting and how much the current queen holding court can make herself heard over the din.
Here's an Anglican minister, answering the unasked question as to why her hair is so short. It's because she's ordained, not because her wife had any say about it. Really, she tells everyone within earshot, she and her wife don't attempt to control each other. They have a very positive, mutually supportive relationship. She repeats it so often some of the listeners wonder what's wrong.
Two women frown over a pattern in the bay window seat at the front, while the rest of their group giggle over the ridiculous things their past lovers learned from watching porn. "He was so devastated when he found out women don't actually like that," says a younger woman with auburn hair. "So I said, well duh, think about how it would taste for two seconds and it's obvious!" The group collapses into giggles again.
A woman with salt-and-pepper hair graces the end of the long table in the centre of the shop. She pauses in her work on a wedding-ring shawl to open the pattern book she's working from, so she can show the teenage girl to her left what it will look like when completed. "I could never do that," says the girl, glancing at the thick scarf on her own needles and cringing.
"Of course you can," says the older woman. "You just have to decide you want one."
"But it's so much work."
"With great effort comes great accomplishment," says the older woman. "Isn't that from a film?" Her much-younger beau — no, frequent date — no, regular sexual partner — insisted on taking her to see one of those comic-book films the other night. She was surprised by how much she enjoyed it. She didn't feel tired at all when they went back to his place. She doesn't dare mention him on knit night, or else be pounced upon. Like a yard full of hens pecking a weaker member of the flock to death. Granola in one hand, Victorian smelling-salts in the other, that was this lot.
And then, about fifteen minutes before the shop owner takes her first glance at the clock and wonders how to gracefully close up, two men barge through the shop door. The one ahead stumbles, nearly knocks over a dressmaker's dummy wearing a sample Fair Isle cardigan, and catches himself on a set of cubbyholes full of yarn. His friend strides in, takes his elbow, apologies streaming from his lips like water from a fire hydrant. He turns his gaze around the full perimeter of the room, hoping someone will notice and forgive him.
The drunkest man takes two more steps towards the back, falls against the cubbyhole a second time, and notices a price list on the shelf above. He scans the room as the knitters stare back, holds up the list, and says, "Are these the rates?"
"Sorry, so sorry," his friend says, lunging to catch at his sleeve and losing his own balance. "We're drunk, I mean he's drunk, I mean we've been out drinking, sorry..."
"Is your rate on here?" the drunkest man asks the teenage girl, who sits frozen with one hand on her half-finished scarf.
The Anglican minister and the woman working on the wedding-ring shawl stand. "Cold night air will do you good," says the older woman. "Clear your head." The Anglican minister puts her hand on the man's arm and is helping him to the door before he can realise what's happening. His friend follows, still dribbling apologies.
"Any casualties?" the Anglican minister calls out as she shuts the door.
"Only flesh wounds," says the woman working on the wedding-ring shawl, and the room drowns in laughter.
"I guess those guys didn't know how historically accurate they were being," says one of the women in the bay window.
"May as well wrap up for the night," says the shop owner, sensing an advantage. "We're not going to top that."