It’s November. I’m getting that urge. Must make something with yarn. Must make something with yarn now.
So I dug out a pattern I bought a year ago for felted slippers. I’ve decided that felted projects are best for me. No need to pay close attention to gauge (ugh) or correct mistakes (ditto) since it all gets squished in the wash. I pulled out some nice deep red, cochineal-dyed wool from my stash.
And then it began.
How it always begins.
My adventures in knitting.
First off, I didn’t have the right size needles. So I talked hubby into making a quick trip to Webs (big yarn store with a lovely lounge area for husbands) when we were on the way to a bike race. Got right size needles and a few other sizes. Just in case.
Sat down the next AM with coffee, yarn, pattern, needles. Scootched comfy chair near wood stove. Felt wonderful. Read pattern. Heart sank. Had forgotten about knitting patterns’ delight in incomprehensible acronyms.
“kfb 2 st. yo to end.” WTF?
Told self not to freak out just yet. Start at beginning.
“cast on 36 st.” Knew that one, at least. Wound bright red yard around fingers in half-remembered long-tail cast on. Moved needle amongst them as if playing cats cradle. Realized that I had forgotten how to accomplish long-tail cast on. Put everything down. Got knitting reference book. Followed pictograms. Successfully cast on 36 stitches. Counted them twice. Yay.
Looked at next instruction. “k to end of row.” Breathed sigh of relief. Knew how to knit to end of row. Ha! Must be getting better at this. Next row. “Cast on 2 more st.” Huh? Need two yarn ends to cast on. How do I cast on now? Checked pre-instructions. Oh. “Carry two yarn ends throughout.” Had ignored since it didn’t make sense.
Becoming battle of wills. Pattern will not defeat me. Cleverly “cast” on 2 more st by doing the slip knot thing.
K-ed to end of row. La, la, la.
Stopped. Looked at bright red beginning of felted slippers. Looked at pattern photo of slipper. Slipper on pattern is round. Slipper on needles is flat. Scanned pattern to see where joining is indicated. Pattern mum on subject. Scrunched eyebrows together. Went to get other knitting reference book. Did I need two sets of circular needles to make slipper round?
Stupid, diabolical old-lady-knitting-pattern-writers. No doubt sniggering at thought of young-ish thing trying to read obscure pattern that leaves out essential information.
The Muse tells me it’s time to break for summer, and like the Wife (heads up, husbands) the Muse is always right. To that end, I will be on vacation from my blog until the beginning of September, when, I hope, you will join me again.
To tie up a loose end before I vacate: The Sweater has been completed. The Twenty Year Sweater Here is a photo.
I know. I never said I was a good knitter, did I? Check out the oddly puffy sleeves. When I put The Sweater on, I’ve got a weird Shakespeare-in-winter thing going on.
This morning I am going to go outside and paint a watercolor. Even though I have a boatload of books to review and three writing projects awaiting various revisions, I am still going to shove them aside and do a watercolor. It won’t advance my career or make me money, but. . .
I am the product of two very different people. My mother has, as my dad likes to say, two speeds: slow and stop. But I think he might be envious, since he’s fast and faster. I tend to be more like my dad, until I remember that I’m also part my mom. Once I asked her how she avoided over-doing. She told me that she does three “things”—“things” being chores—per day, and once they are done, she’s off the hook and free to do what she wants. (I believe one of the “things” is making the bed, so you see she’s not unduly stressing herself.)
When I find myself in a muddle of work, I remember her words. Painting a watercolor this morning is going to be more satisfying than disciplining myself through a revision and what’s more, I suspect it will free up other creative areas in my brain, making me more effective when I get back to writing.
If you’re more on the driven side like me, maybe today you can try to do one thing you truly enjoy, for no other reason than that you truly enjoy it–see how it goes.
Until September, then. Have a lovely summer.
I’ve been knitting a sweater for the last twenty years. It’s true, I am a really slow knitter but I’m not that slow. Well, I am. I have quite a few “one socks” without the other—I knit one, it takes me forever, I never get around to knitting the other one. But this sweater is something that I am going to finish—I have one sleeve to go. I am determined.
This sweater has a story (you would hope, right?) It begins with a dream to own a farm, which I did make true in my twenties and thirties. The farm had chickens and horses, but it needed a few sheep. So one spring morning, I drove my VW Rabbit diesel to another farm that raised sheep for hand spinning and bought two lambs—one white, one black. I stuck them in the backseat with some hay. Then I drove the two hours back to my farm, the lambs looking out the window, having never been in a car before. When I got home I put them in the pasture I had prepared. It was a lovely space bordered by a stone wall.
Then next morning Dolly and Miranda (that’s what I named them) were gone. They had climbed over the wall and disappeared. I searched the woods, I met a neighbor who had a flock of sheep and said he would keep an eye out for them; I gave up hope by the end of the day. They were coyote food. I went to bed depressed. The next morning I got up at the dim early light of pre-dawn and went to let the chickens out. And who should appear, emerging from the woods across the road? Dolly and Miranda.
“We’re back,” they seemed to say. “Nothing much out there.”
When Dolly was a year old, I sheared her and it was from this first fleece—a rich dark brown—that I spun the wool to make the sweater. Dolly didn’t like being sheared—as a matter of fact for a sheep, Dolly had some strong opinions. But we both persevered, in our stubborn ways. I got the fleece, and she got kicks in.
I want to justify taking so much time to knit a sweater and this is how I’m going to do it: I’m going to believe that this sweater is more than a bunch of loops in dark brown. It’s about dreaming a dream and staying stubborn in the belief that living your life the way it matters to you counts–whether you’re a human or a really stubborn sheep.