Senior Retrospective: Knitting together a newspaper: Thoughts from a past EiC

Image courtesy of Leila Raines '23.

This semester, the final spring of my senior year, I learned how to knit.

On a dark Sunday evening sometime in February, my friend Taylor sat down next to me on the stiff couch in my SoCo and guided me through the basic motions of knitting. Awkwardly clutching the two wooden needles in my hands, I learned how to do a knit stitch. Then a purl stitch. Knit two purl two. Stockinette (basically just alternating rows of knit and purl).

            Needle through stitch.

            Yarn over needle.

            Pull through loop. 

I fumbled a lot during this first knitting session. Stitches fell off. The yarn frayed and unraveled into separate threads that tangled up in my needles. Holes appeared. My fingers slipped. It was a messy process at first, but at the end of the night, as I stared down at the patchwork square that I ended up with, I still felt proud.

I have wanted to learn how to knit for years now, but I didn’t find myself with the free time until this semester (“free time” being a generous term, considering most of that time was meant for independent work on my thesis). And never have I had as much free time as I have felt this semester, following the previous semester in which I was Editor-in-Chief of the paper.

I’m sure I could compare the process of learning to knit to any learning experience that I’ve had at Vassar: Learning to be a college student living away from my family for the first time; learning Italian during my first and second years; learning to step outside of my comfort zone to make new friends; learning to live in a new country when studying abroad; and especially learning to lead a student-run newspaper last fall.

Even as I am writing this piece, I am still debating whether making the analogy between learning to knit and working at The Misc is cheesy. But I think both of these experiences have influenced me in similar ways.

When I first stood in line to sign up for The Miscellany News email list during the first-year Org Fair, I was stepping into the group with no newspaper experience.

Needle through stitch. When I wrote my first piece covering an author lecture on campus, I had no idea what I was doing. I ended up almost pulling an all-nighter, hunched over a Microsoft Word document and frantically typing out a story about Tommy Orange and his novel “There There.”

Yarn over needle. One semester later, I nervously walked into the Rose Parlor for my first interview to become a Reporter for the newspaper, preparing answers to potential questions in my head. The room buzzed with energetic chatter, as I found a circle of college students of all years sitting cross-legged in a circle on the floor. I sat down and joined the circle, thus kickstarting my path in The Miscellany News.

Pull through loop. Flash forward to Fall 2022, when I stepped into Rocky 203 to lead my first Editorial Board meeting as Editor-in-Chief. I had hardly imagined when I first started that I would want to take on such a big role in the newspaper, but the more I got involved with the paper, first as a reporter and then as an Arts Editor, the more I loved contributing to every weekly issue.

The biggest thing that I have learned about knitting is that, once you have mastered the basic stitches, the rest is troubleshooting. And one can look at The Misc in a similar way.

            Stitches fall off.

            Yarn frays

            Holes appear.

Articles fell through. 

Production Nights sometimes lasted until 2 a.m.

Large blank spaces where content fell short had been filled at the last minute with extra ads, graphics, images, anything we could get our hands on.

But the end result was always a beautiful patchwork of student-created content: articles, images, graphics, crosswords, horoscopes, Arts, News, Humor, Opinions, Features, Sports. Every Thursday, when I picked up my physical copy of the paper as I walked through the Bridge or was rushing out of the Deece to get to class, I always felt that rush of pride, holding that physical evidence of all of our hard work.

A lot of people assume that I want to pursue a career in journalism, after all of the time I’ve spent at The Misc. And a part of me does sometimes wonder what would happen if I did, but when I think of my time at The Misc, the journalism aspect was only one small piece of why I enjoyed my time with the group. Of course, journalism is important, and I loved being able to explore the campus and feature all of the great things that students, faculty and community members were doing. But when I think of my time at The Misc, I also think of the Misc Office. Of joking around with other Ed Board members during Monday and Tuesday production nights. Of grumbling over InDesign. Or leaving edits on student-submitted writing on Google Docs.

Most of all, I remember learning. Of starting somewhere, and ending in a completely different place, as a completely different person. Just as I will now know how to knit probably for the rest of my life, I will carry these experiences at The Misc with me as I move forward.

Image courtesy of Leila Raines ’23.
Image courtesy of Leila Raines ’23.

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