Outfoxed Knitting

Sometimes I'm smarter than the knitting; sometimes it's smarter than me. The fun is figuring it out.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Laboring away

This day that we celebrate with friends and family began in the late nineteenth century. It's origins come from Peter McGuire, a piano shop apprentice in New York. At nights, he educated himself and hung out with a bunch of progressive types who were starting to think that this all day, all night, low/no pay, whoever-heard-of-health-insurance way of life was pretty dumb. In 1872, he joined about 100,000 other like-minded souls and marched. (A time-honored way of saying "to show you how pissed we are we're going to walk around in a big group and intimidate the heck out of you til you give us what we deserve.)

Anyway, over the course of the next 10 years, he was labeled a "disturber of the public peace" and eventually wore out his welcome in NYC and headed west, settling in St Louis, Mo. There he fell in with some hammer-weilding, nail-spitting types and organized a carpenters union. He was even set up as General Secretary of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. On Sept. 5, 1882, the first Labor Day was held and the organized labor movement took off like a shot from there.

Today, I honor this marvel of the power of the masses by asserting my right to do Jack Shit. Except for one thing, does Jack Shit mean really doing nothing? or taking advantage of this time to focus on something I feel compelled to do? Like knitting.

Well, regardless, the latter is what I did this weekend. Lots of it. Unfortunately, I really didn't work on new projects, I worked to shut my hubby up. I've got these dang blankets that know matter how much I wish, just won't finish themselves. He wants them out of the house and knows that left to my own devices, I'll just keep starting new projects never finishing the old ones.

Well, I did finish one project, but it wasn't a blanket. It was Kitty Pi. Based on Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pi shawl (math, yay! starting with a few stitches on dpn, knit 3.141579 rows (rounded off), inc 1 everystitch, knit 2*3.141579 rows rounded off, inc again, next its 3*pi, etc.). Kitty Pi is a felted round basket-y thang that theoretically my cats will hang out in. Well, not yet at least. It's my first felted project and I learned something kind of important: Cast off LOOSELY -- very loosely. Hubster and I each had a grip on the edge of it and were pulling it to try and loosen it up. Then I wrestled with trying to stuff a "form" to help shape it. It dried off a bit and is now liberally laced with catnap in hopes of enticing a cat to its orange depths. I'll let you know.

Now, I attempt to complete Grimace (sp?) (pics later). Grimace is this big, pale purple mostrosity of a baby blanket. I tried making the pattern myself. Not bad at all really. Definitely some things I would change, but the biggest issue is the conversion of gauge to size of desired project. This baby blanket is more the size of a large throw. Ah, vell. It's for my sister's baby. It's from me, it'll be there by the time the baby is born (12 days), she'll love it. That's what sisters are for.

More later.

Friday, September 02, 2005

I am knitter . . .

As opposed to a person who knits. What is the distinction?

A knitter begins
creating a Christmas list in August. Not because they're an overachiever but because it's an excuse to buy more yarn. A person who knits instead gets grandiose ideas on December second about how marvelous it would be to make homemade gifts for EVERYONE!

Well, let's be honest. A true knitter does both.

Me, I went from working one project, then buying the yarn and completing the next, to yarn, patterns and UFOs coming out the ying-yang. Heck, I've even got a blog going. (Aren't I cool?)

In a desperate bid to get my hands on more yarn, I even agreed to knit some scarves as gifts for my new mother-in-law. (Not quite as fiber desperate as it sounds -- the gifts go to women who helped with my wedding.) So now I have five scarves to make in addition to the baby blanket I have to finish by Sept. 15, the kitty pi otn, the felted bag for my mom and another baby blanket gift.

I think that's it. I'm not sure.

The thing is though, I'm turning into a yarn snob. Good or bad, I've got this thing against eyelash yarn. What's the first scarf the mil wants me to make? Eyelash. One of the good things is that it's going so fast. Almost done. But ugh. A cool thing about this entire scarf marathon is that I got to help pick out the yarn. Yes, it's mostly novelty, but I had fun trying to match yarn types -- something that the yarn snob in me has no patience with.

We'll just see where this experimenting will take me? Will I embrace Red Heart or go running back to alpaca? I'll let you know.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

So very Continental

So sad. I created my first blog post about a week ago. It was rather beautiful Notice you're not reading it? Yeah. That's right. I managed to dump it. It was definitely not an ept moment.

Try, try again.

I learned how to knit about eight years ago from a friend in college. That friend has since passed, but left behind a beautiful gift. Corny as it may seem, there's a bit of her in all I knit. I still have that first scarf -- one of the few things I've knit for myself. It's a stockinette scarf made from a rainbow variegated acrylic purchased at Wal-Mart. Yep, Wal-Mart. I get so many compliments on that dang thing!

But that was European. As I progressed in the ancient art of knitting, I kept hearing about this thing called Continental knitting. It's supposed to be easier for left-handers to learn, smaller movements (great for repetitive injuries) and faster. As a woman dwelling with permanent tendinitis in every part of the body that moves, you'd think the smaller movements would appeal. Nope that not it. I just want to be faster. The idea of finishing a scarf or sweater or blanket in the blink of an eye. What delusions I have.

I was getting quite desperate to learn this miracle method. I sought out classes (always the wrong time), tried the web videos (kind of hard to learn when you keep having to rewind), and read directions (yeah, that worked). Finally, I crashed a knitting circle.

Mwah-ha-ha. My evil plan to infiltrate and abscond with the top secret data worked.


Actually, learning to knit Continental was easy. I watched once or twice and I had it. Woohoo. Purling Continental, that's a different story. A Stephen King, Mary Shelley, down-the-rabbit-hole story filled with pain and punctures and curses (and apologies for the cursing).

First, I sat beside my patient new knitting friend and tried to mimic her actions. Then we each held one needle and tried to purl that way. Next, she held my hands and tried to shape my hands to the stitch. It didn't work. Finally, though, I seemed to catch on. Except for this weird thing.

I'd purl a bit, then my tension would slip and I couldn't complete the stitch. I'd fumble a bit, pick up the rhythm, then my tension would slip. I'd fumble a bit, pick up the rhythym, then my tension would slip. On it went. The yarn tension slipping, mental tension tightening.

And finally insight. A fiber epiphany. When I was actually purling, my hands remembered what to do. They remembered from centuries of men and women doing the same. Some (hokey-sounding) string connecting all knitters through time. But when I thought about the stitch, the process, then I'd flounder. Hence the never ending process.

It seems like there's lots of things out bodies remember how to do without us learning. Sex, for one thing. There were no videos for centuries and still people figured out how to make love. Heck, it's considered one of the "most natural things in the world". (Such a great marketing campaign)

Dancing, too. If I think about the dance, it's mechanical and my partner's in danger of a smooshed toe (or five). But if I just . . . dance, then it's magic. Just two people holding each other up through space and time.

And knitting, I hold out hope that one day I'll be able to create something beautiful and it won't be a trial. It will be the most natural thing I can do.