Summary: Gwen finds conventions are good places to learn new things.
Notes: Written for SweetPollyOliver
While she waited for her drink Gwen surveyed the area. Everyone was clustered in groups around tables, drinking and chatting, none of them loud enough that she could pick out any of the conversations. A few people were playing card games. From the next room she could hear the steady thump of the convention disco.
She’d changed out of her costume and no one paid her any attention, which suited her. Usually at conventions she only spent time with fans at official events: Q&As, autographs and photos. Since going into space and having her life saved by fans she was interested in finding out more about them. Although it was still an intimidating prospect.
Having received her drink she sipped at it while considering her options. The disco held no appeal: when she’d looked in earlier everyone was doing the same moves to a song she’d never heard. She could choose a group sitting around the bar to join, but there was too big a chance it would end up as an informal Q&A. One of those per convention was enough, especially when it was the same questions that came up every time.
There were some smaller conference rooms not far away, which she hoped held better prospects. The first room she found had a closed door, but even through it she could hear they were showing episodes of Galaxy Quest. Jason would make an entrance and give a running commentary – whether they wanted it to not – but her part in most episodes was too small to offer anything interesting.
She wondered if the people in the room next to it could hear the show, but they were engrossed in what they were playing. One of the people clustered around the table moved enough for her to see that it was a board game, but nothing she immediately recognized. Which was to say it wasn’t Monopoly.
A shout from a room across the hallway led her to check what was going on. She listened in the doorway for long enough for her to establish they were playing a game where they were trying to find a spy. It involved accusations, counter-accusations and a lot of laughter. Gwen wasn’t sure about interrupting and neither did she want them to treat her differently, if she tried playing.
She almost overlooked the next room because it was much quieter. There were only five people in there, sat around a table and knitting. Well, mostly knitting. They weren’t silent, though – they were discussing when they were due back at work after the convention.
One of the women – the only one of the four in a Galaxy Quest uniform – looked up and smiled at Gwen. “Oh, hey. Would you like to do some knitting or crochet or embroidery? Or even some scrapbooking, we don’t judge.”
Gwen couldn’t help but smile at that. “Oh, I don’t know how. I haven’t really tried crafting since I was a child.”
It didn’t diminish the woman’s enthusiasm at all. “We can teach you. What do you fancy learning? We’ve got experience of pretty much everything between us.”
Still, Gwen hesitated. But the woman at the other end of the table, wearing a t-shirt with Tawny Madison on the front, gestured to an empty chair next to her. She’d reached the end of the corridor and if she didn’t stay, what else was she going to do? So she sat.
The woman beside her introduced herself as Amanda and the rest went round the table. The woman in the uniform was Mel, the man was Al and the other women were Charlie, who looked friendly, and Jen, who gave her a shy smile. It felt natural to introduce herself in turn, although she noticed them hiding grins as she did so.
“How about some knitting?” Amanda asked, holding up her own. She had what looked like half a sweater with a complicated pattern going on.
Gwen made a face. “I tried it once, a long time ago. I was terrible at it. I can’t imagine I’ve improved since then.”
Amanda smiled. “How about crochet?” From a bag in front of her she produced another needle. “Have you ever tried it?”
“I guess I could give it a go.” She was intrigued as to what it was all about.
“Great!” Amanda passed her the needle. “You can borrow my spare crochet hook and I have a few balls of wall in there, choose a color you like.”
She took the hook – not needle, as it turned out – and peered into the bag on the floor Amanda had gestured to. There were half a dozen balls of yarn in there. After a moment’s deliberation she chose green.
“We’ll start with chaining, it’s really simple.” Amanda had set her knitting down and pulled out another hook, which she used to demonstrate how to get the yarn on the hook and then how to chain.
Gwen was glad the conversation resumed around her. It meant no one was watching her attempt to get the yarn over the hook without ending up with something that was so tight it didn’t move or so loose it fell off the hook entirely.
“It’ll come with practice,” Amanda assured her.
Gwen suspected she’d be spending the whole evening attempting to chain.
During a break in the conversation Amanda said, I like knitting. It’s good for times when there’s not much happening. Like at conventions when we’re sitting in the hall, waiting for the next item. I knitted a whole cardigan last year.”
Gwen remembered last year in London. Jason had gone to a gig on the other side of the London that he’d sworn was around the corner, Alex had found a pub and gotten drunk and Fred spent a whole afternoon McDonald’s. The organizers had had a fit, unsurprisingly. She’d been amazed they’ll been willing to hold another convention after that.
“I knit while I watch TV.” Gwen glanced up to see this was Mel. “It’s a good excuse to watch whatever rubbish is on these days.”
“I did a whole cross stitch while I was in labor.” This was from Charlie. At the surprised expressions on everyone in the room she added, “Well, it was something to take my mind off it. And I did cross stitch swear words.”
All five of them laughed.
“Oh, that’s looking much better.” Amanda reached a hand out to Gwen’s chain, and she stopped crocheting so they could both examine it. Gwen sat up straighter at the praise and wondered if crocheting could be something she could do between scenes, if the new series got off the ground. Or she found another acting job.
“I think you’re ready for a granny square,” Amanda continued.
Gwen frowned at her. Was that something her granny may have created?
“It’s a square in a particular pattern,” she explained. “You can make several of them and sew them together to make a blanket.” She dug around in her bad and pulled out a square with two trailing ends of yarn.
Now it looked familiar. Gwen had mainly seen that sort of thing on sets, when they were dressing a couch. Although not that pattern, exactly.
“This is the easiest one. You can do as many rows as you like – even make a whole blanket from one square if you want. The only two stitches you’ll use is a chain and a treble. Although,” Amanda frowned, “I think you call it a double crochet in America.”
“Don’t confuse her,” Charlie said, and Gwen shot her a smile.
“I suppose it doesn’t matter what you call it, as long as you remember how to do it.” Amanda went on to demonstrate and Gwen practiced treble/double crochets until Amanda was happy she understood it.
And then they went onto the granny square itself, for which she had to do specific numbers of each stitch, which meant Gwen had to concentrate, and Amanda had to remind her what she was doing. She heard some snatches of conversation from the other three, but as far as she could tell it was about a TV show she’d never heard of, so it was easy to ignore.
By the time she’d done a couple of rows and was getting something that looked more like a square, she was getting the hang of it. She caught Al’s eye, as she watched him knit so fast his needles were clicking. It was something that she’d only associated with grannies before, not young men.
Al smiled at her. “Have you been to England outside of conventions?” His needles didn’t even pause, whereas she could only shake her head, not daring to answer for fear of losing her place.
“It’s such a long way.” Mel sighed. “I went to the LA convention a few years ago and it took all day to fly there.”
Charlie sighed too. “You’re so lucky. I tried to convince my husband to have a holiday in California and I could stop by the con while we were there, but he was having none of it. Said he didn’t like the heat.” She wrinkled her nose.
“What does he think of you being here?” Jen asked, looking up from what Gwen thought was embroidery.
“Oh, he has a footballing holiday once a year. So we both get a weekend away from the kids.”
“I’m so jealous he’s so understanding,” Mel said. “I had to break up with a girlfriend a couple of years ago because she was determined to tell me everything that was wrong with Galaxy Quest. She would have thrown my video tapes out, if I hadn’t caught her.”
There was sympathetic noises and shakes of the head from around the room.
“She didn’t deserve you,” Amanda said.
“No, she didn’t.” Mel lifted her chin.
“You must travel a lot for conventions,” Charlie asked, looking over at Gwen. “Where’s the best place you’ve been?”
“Or the worst,” Al put in.
Gwen smiled and finished her stitch. After a while all the conventions blended into one, but fortunately there was one that stood out. Beside the first one. “We did one in New Zealand once. It was a general science fiction convention, not just Galaxy Quest. It was fun to meet other actors and share experiences.” It had been good to know they weren’t the only typecast actors out there.
“We keep hearing rumors about a new series,” Mel said. “Are there anything to them?”
“Mel!” Charlie chastised, not that Mel looked chastened.
She knew Jason had been asked yesterday, since he was always the most forthcoming with any information. But for once he’d stayed tight-lipped. Until they were sure it could happen and they were all doing it, no one wanted to raise false hope among the fans.
“Just rumors,” Gwen said, sticking to the script. At their long faces she added, “I wish I could say something, but there’s nothing to tell.”
“We understand,” Charlie said, as Mel sighed. “Why don’t you tell us how much you like crochet instead.”
Gwen chuckled, and since she’d finished a row, held up her two-rowed square.
“That’s amazing!” Amanda reached out to turn it more towards her. “You’d never know this was your first time crocheting.”
There were noises of agreement from around the room. Perhaps they were praising her purely because it was what they thought she’d want to hear, but it felt good anyway. “I think I like it,” she said slowly.
“That’s great! Look, you can keep the hook if you want, do some more on the flight.”
Gwen smiled as she imagined herself attempting to keep count on a flight when she would be interrupted constantly. “I can’t keep it,” she said. “It’s yours. I can buy one when I get home.”
Amanda rested a hand on Gwen’s. “Don’t worry, I have plenty. And that’s an old, spare one, I much prefer the set I have at home.”
“If you’re sure.” Gwen didn’t sound it, but couldn’t see a way she could refuse it.
“You can keep this ball of wool too. I have so much that you’d be doing me a favor really.”
Gwen said nothing – she was in too deep now. And it wasn’t as if she wouldn’t have space in her luggage for it.
Amanda’s comments led the conversation onto crafting supplies and how they all had so much and not enough room to store it all.
Gwen listened while she did another row and felt that she’d spent an evening among friends. Jason always enthused about the fans, but then he treated them differently. And booked him for jobs on his own. She’s struggled to understand what she might have in common with people who loved a TV show so much.
She didn’t have anything in common with this group either, but they’d been welcoming all the same. She wasn’t only feeling warmly about the fans either, but the crochet also. Which was impressive, given how much of the square she’d unpicked and re-crocheted.
She was proud of herself for finishing by the time everyone mentioned bed and started packing up.
“I can’t begin to thank you,” she said to Amanda, “for your patience and supplies.”
Amanda beamed. “I love introducing new people to crochet.”
With less to pack up, Gwen reached the door before the rest, and she closed it. Ignoring the confused looks she kept her voice quiet. “You have to keep what I’m about to tell you a secret.”
“Is it about the new series?” Mel was buzzing on the spot.
Gwen gave her a look and she subsided, saying, “We won’t tell anyone, we promise.” The others nodded, so Gwen continued.
“There is a new series in the works. But it’s still in discussion and nothing is definite yet. When it is – if it is – we’ll announce it.”
Charlie clapped her hands and the expressions on the faces of the other four echoed their excitement at the news.
“Thank you for trusting us,” Al said, once he’d sobered a little.
Gwen nodded an opened the door, not wanting to say any more. They didn’t need all the negotiation details.
As they left, Charlie called out, “See you next year.”
“And bring your crochet, we want to see your progress,” Amanda added.
Gwen waved and promised herself she would make time to speak to these people again next year, whether she kept up with the crochet or not.