Last week we announced that we would be using our blog to post more about the artists and creative "influencers" that enrich our world at Knitty City. In the weeks to come, among other things, you will be reading about the people who work at the store. They are a diverse and talented group and all of us are bound together by our love of making things. This week, we asked Maxine LevInson, a Knitty City instructor and designer, to take the blog helm, and tell us more about herself.
A Good Yarn….
I was 8 years old when my Aunt Selma, who (truth be told) was not my aunt, but my best friend’s aunt, taught both of us to knit. She bought us the needles and yarn at Woolworth’s, New York’s beloved 5 and 10¢ store: Plastic needles and a scratchy acrylic yarn, mustard color.
Knitting was instantly fascinating to me… how a long colorful string, with some manipulation, could become a piece of fabric. I recall that my first big project was a tunic vest, two rectangular straight pieces, seed stitch, sewn together at the shoulders and down the sides. There might have been a hood. In the following years, I continued to be fascinated with knitting. I remember cable scarves and a crocheted bikini in high school. Sweaters for one or or two meaningful boyfriends, as well. Lots of sweaters, shawls, socks and blankets. I always had something on my needles to keep me entertained.
There was also a different career that came before my current teaching livelihood. After I graduated from Hunter College in NY, I started working in television. My first job at ABC-TV was as Manager of Broadcast Publicity. There were only the Big Three networks then. Can you imagine doing publicity with no cable, internet, YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram? In this job, I worked with all the programming divisions, but New York was the epicenter of soap opera production and that is where I wanted to be.
There were seven soap operas produced in New York at that time. ABC produced four in the city: Edge of Night, Ryan’s Hope, All My Children, and One Life to Live. (General Hospital was then, and now, shot in LA). The soaps employed hundreds of actors, writers, producers, and production staff. On each show, five days a week, a play was produced with an 80 page script.
For me, working with the writers and the stories was the most fun. All My Children’s Erica Kane and her many husbands, One Life to Live’s manly Buchanan clan, General Hospital’s star crossed Luke and Laura. My favorite show was Ryan’s Hope, which was set in Brooklyn and was filled with heart warming conversations on the brownstone’s front stoop, in Maeve’s kitchen and Johnny’s bar.
Lights, camera, action… tales of romance and marriage, adventure and action, murder and mayhem, laughter and tears for millions of fans. We called it "Love in the Afternoon."
Eventually, I moved to LA to work on General Hospital. Several years and one major earthquake later, I came back to NY as Senior VP of Daytime Television and eventually took over the reins of One Life to Live as Executive Producer.
Knitting was always a constant in my life. It's a great stress buster, creative outlet and a wonderful way to connect to other like-minded people. One colleague that I met while at ABC, Phyllis Howe, another craft junkie, became a good friend. Years later, Phyllis took her love of all things fiber to the marketing side of the business and I started to teach. It was Phyllis who introduced me to Pearl Chin.
I have been teaching knitting professionally for the last 12 years. I taught kids and their parents at Mt. Sinai Hospital’s Child Life Department and a group of energetic Chinese women at The University Settlement. I currently teach at the Creative Center, an organization that offers a wide variety of free art classes for people with chronic illnesses. And I have been teaching at Knitty City ever since Pearl opened the door to this amazing store and community hub.
It brings me such joy to realize that what I learned from Aunt Selma when I was 8 years old has provided me with a second career. I love passing on this useful, creative craft to others. I love how, especially at Knitty City, knitting, crocheting and weaving brings people together from so many different walks of life. Skills are generously shared, friendships are made, stories are always being told. It is, for me, still "Love in the Afternoon."