A Good Deed

At the close of one of the original Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie, Gene Hackman Wilder (thank you, Candace) as Mr. Wonka, holding the Everlasting Gobstopper that Charlie has left on his desk says, “So shines a good deed in a weary world.

This scene is from The Merchant of Venice, Act V, Scene 1, by William Shakespeare [1564-1616]:

That light we see is burning in my hall.
How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.

(Screenwriter David Seltzer changed the word “naughty” to “weary”, in the film, since after all the nonsense, Mr. Wonka is deathly tired of the horrible character of most people.)

I have always loved that line… (and yes, I’m a big kid’s-movie loving freak. So, sue me. What? You want to know where I got that? Ah. The Complete Willy Wonka, and thank you so much, Thomas M. Brodhead) and it came to mind yesterday as I was frantically knitting a baby hat. Not because I was doing some good deed — although I suppose making someone a gift could be considered as such. No, the line came to me because the good deed brought light to my world.

I haven’t knitted in ages. I’ve been dragging around my lovely handsewn (thanks, jackie) knitting bag with my project all rolled up and safe, but it’s been just… sitting there. I don’t think I’ve laid needles to yarn since before June.

Part of that is because we moved, and part of it is because when we were in the Bay Area, it was too hot to have a lap full of yarn, and part of it is… well, who knows? I think it was a bit of melancholy. Getting back to Scotland after being in California was harder than we thought it would be, and for awhile I kind of hated everything and everyone that wasn’t home, despite the fact that I chose to be here.

It was a good thing I had my work to get into, and the surprising conclusion was pushing a novel through completion, revision, copy editing and on to publication in six months. That was a lot of work, and next time I think I’ll take up kick boxing or something less stressful, if I need to distract myself.

Anyway. I wasn’t knitting, and suddenly Baby Season up and reared its downy head again. I have no idea what brings it (lots of rain? No rain? Tropical low pressure?), but it erupts in multiples — I found out a friend back home had had a baby in the nine months we’d been gone (wow), my editor announced she was pregnant and taking leave at the end of August, and the wives of two of D’s classmates conceived, all around the same time. I should have been knitting… but I didn’t start… until… yesterday.

Over a month ago it was planned. Hiroshi, a philosophy of law student at the Uni, mentioned to D. that he was going home for the birth of his child, and having been good friends throughout their onerous school year, they agreed to get together for a last meal before he took off. The gents informed the ladies, and we all were to assemble at our favorite vegan pub at the required time on Tuesday night. Tuesday morning I started the hat.

It was meant to be quick — and utilitarian, more of a token of courtesy than anything else. What I didn’t expect was that the feel of the yarn in my hands — a Plymouth 80% rayon, 20% wool Italian blend called Sinsation — would be so beguiling. Why had I stopped knitting? How could I have lost the happy anticipation of seeing something come to life in my hands?

I used richer colors than I would normally use for a baby hat — for a child with an unknown gender and parents whose tastes and preferences I don’t really know. The hat — and the baby — were almost secondary to my desire to create something that looked as beautiful as the yarn felt in my hands. And Megumi’s expression when I handed her the completed project only added to the joy. Now, I’m thinking I need some more of this yarn (which was verrrrry expensive, incidentally – I only have the one skein), and to add to my stash and find some more bright and crazy colors to liven up this drab, dark world.

It’s only one tiny hat, but the creativity bug has been awakened. I’m glad.

This is the 300th post at WIWB. Who knew we’d last that long?

11 Replies to “A Good Deed”

  1. I had no idea about the Shakespeare stuff!

    Though it’s not Gene Hackman, it’s Gene Wilder. I had to go check to make sure there wasn’t another Wonka movie before the Gene Wilder one to make sure!!

  2. Ah yes I am the same. I started crocheting a baby blanket for a friend LAST YEAR and am still not done. Perhaps we should join forces and have a craft in night once a month or so to encourage each other to finish our projects. Oh and I know a fabulous wool shop on Queen Margaret Drive that has some heavenly yarns.

  3. Congrats on the 300th post! That is a darling baby hat. Contrary to popular notions, babies LIKE bright colors, not pastels, so this baby will be very lucky. Hope that the book is off to the publisher soon if not already & that y'all are happier to be in Scotland. Can't wait to see what you knit next!

  4. Love the baby hat. I’m very into knitting for our NICU and I’ve on purpose gone with more vibrant colors. Hopefully none of the babies you’re knitting for will be sick but those washed out pale official baby colors make sick babies look sicker and I don’t think they’re that flattering on well babies either.

    I’ve promised to teach my teenaged nieces how to knit but I’m a little concerned about starting one of them off with needles. It can be confusing, not to mention they fight so much I’m afraid needles will become weapons (kidding). If I have loom questions, can I come to you? I love how much more portable and visual loom knitting is than traditional.

  5. Hey, Glenna you’re very welcome to come to me, but Kansas is the looming queen — she does amazing things with her loom. I taught my sister to use the loom when she was nine because she really couldn’t manage the needles at all. This is really quick way to make baby hats — very quick, and for beginning knitters, it standardizes the patterns. What a great idea to knit for the neonatal care units!

  6. Wonderful baby hat! It looks so soft and lovely that it is a wonder that you could give it away. Except for the part that it would probably only fit on your knee.
    And really. Knee hats are only useful if one is sitting for extended periods of time. With your knees at odd angles.

    Oh my. I think that it is time for me to go.

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