Me & Mo Rocca, Knittin’ in a Tree

by Debbie Stoller

This past week, I got to do one of the most fun things ever: Teach Mo Rocca to knit. Mo got himself into some hot water with the knitting community a few weeks ago (yes, there is such a thing as a ‘knitting community,’) when he made the horrifying ‘joke’ on NPR’s Wait Wait..Don’t Tell Me that ‘I hate handknit sweaters. Handknit sweaters are always itchy.’ The remark caused an uproar on knitting blogs and community sites, and Mo heard all about it. So, on the following week’s show, he made a retraction.

But that was not enough. Mo realized he really need to learn his lesson — and take some lessons in knitting! So, for a segment that will be airing this Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning , I sat down last week and spent 3 hours teaching Mo to knit at one of my favorite local yarn shops, Brooklyn General. And then I spent a little more time the next night. And then early this week right here at  BUST HQ. And then some time on the phone. And then some time over breakfast. Despite our many follow-up sessions, Mo, it turns out, is a natural-born knitter. Not only did he have to learn to knit and purl, but he also had to learn to do ribbing, and complete, all on his own, the Hot Head hat pattern from my first book, Stitch ‘n Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook, in just eight days. (Full disclosure: that hat may actually turn out to be a bit itchy.)

 But wait wait…it gets more exciting. Mo not only learned to knit in one week, he also learned to sew, and made himself a hoodie in addition to the hat he knit. And then he modeled both of them for Martha Stewart! It’s all part of this Sunday’s segment, which is about making your own clothes, and selling your own handmade items, as a way to save, or make, money in this downer of an economy.

I have no idea how much of me will end up in this Sunday’s segment — after all, the segment’s not about me at all, it’s about Mo. In fact, I expect I will mostly be left on the cutting-room floor. But it doesn’t matter. The fun part for me was getting to hang out with Mo, who’s incredibly personable in real life, along with being smart, and of course, funny (we had some good times talking about ‘To Catch a Predator,’ with Mo pointing out that the girl who heads up Perverted Justice should win an Emmy for her performance as a young boy in those episodes– being, as it is, on par with Hllary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry, and also, that she would be great playing Anybody’s in the Broadway production of West Side Story.)

So thanks for the memories, Mo. And knit on!

[For more Mo, check out BUST’s issue 29 (Fall 04), in which we featured him as our ‘Boy Du Jour’]

UH-OH UPDATE: Got a call late this afternoon from the CBS producer I worked with on this piece saying that they were having a helluva time editing it all down to size and that, alas, all of the explicit knitting content (actually, just all of the knitting content, period) was being cut. But you won’t have to wait for the Director’s Cut of the CBS Sunday Morning show to catch Mo’s adventure’s in fiber. Instead, the producer told me that they are hoping to expand it to a larger knitting story for a different episode…so stay tuned.

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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