Five Things

This week’s guest on Five Things is Angela Davis, a school teacher whose primary tool is knitting needles. She teaches children all kinds of fiber arts: crocheting, embroidery, spinning, feltmaking, and knitting. She’s also spent a lot of time healing herself from a traumatic childhood and learning about interpersonal relationships.

This conversation between us arose from her first item — I saw her at the theater, wearing a gorgeous coat, and I had to ask her about it. She said, “Oh, in my family, we call this the Divorce Coat!” And I knew we needed to get this story on Five Things. 

On the gorgeous leather coat that her mother got after her divorce:
“It was kind of my mom’s coming-out party, if you will. ‘Here I am, I’m done with this, I am a woman in my own power.’ She had been a hairdresser and had a beauty shop, and was also tending the cattle [on the farm she owned with her husband]. The big claim to fame at that time for Defiance, Ohio [where the family moved] was that it was home to the world’s largest foundry. My mom went from being a hairdresser, with her divorce coat, to working on the line and eventually becoming a foreman.”

On the bigger lessons learned from knitting:
“Being able to still oneself and to enter into an activity that’s rhythmic and has a very specific choreography to it, that you have to remember each time, and then also to have the patience to work through something. To knit something, it takes a very long time. So you really have to develop the capacity within yourself to look ahead, and say, ‘All this work, I’m building up to something.'”

On finishing her college degree at almost age 50:
“It was my friend Lisa’s fault, because she inspired me. She had done the same thing at the same time in her life. It’s kind of late in the game to finish your degree, but to have somebody reaching down there with her hand and pulling me up and saying, ‘Come on, sister, you can do it,’ she was very much that person for me. And I needed this boost in my life, because I was in a situation that was bad, and I needed to know that I could do something with my life.”

Tara Anderson is the host and producer of Five Things, a podcast about the objects that tell our stories.