Well, that little scrappy scarf that I thought I was nearly done with? It took me another week after that post to complete it. (At some point, I will actually dig out my camera and remember to edit photos to put in with these posts. To do: Invent a day that is longer than 24 hours.) This was mostly because, rather than just continuing with the brilliant plan I had come up with in the previous post, I began to doubt the wisdom of it. I looked at all of those little scraps piling up and ending and thought, “This is going to be an absolute disaster.” Even with my knowledge of weaving in ends as I go, I thought that this was going to just fall to pieces or look like a mess. So what did I do? The worst possible thing a knitter can do *ever* when they’re anxious, so far as I’m concerned.
I ripped back.
Now I know, some of you are wanting to explain to me the wisdom of ripping back to fix mistakes, and I have no issue with that. None at all. The type of ripping back that I’m talking about is entirely fear and anxiety driven. The kind of blind ripping back you do when you know that you can’t possibly end the project the way you had originally intended or thought that you might, so you just go back to where you think the best place to start over and come up with a safety plan is. Sometimes that works out just fine…but a lot of times, in my own experience, what happens is that you come back to the project the next day and realize that rather than ripping back you could have just __________. There are probably half a dozen other solutions at any given time, but a lot of times all we can see is the project and how it’s not working and we operate off of that. It has never failed me when I’ve set down a project and walked away from it for about 24 hours to have a think about what I intend to do. If a solution isn’t apparent, then I can rip back knowing that at least I didn’t just give in to having a bad case of the willies.
This was not one of those times. I ripped back and started doing the decreases in the triangle before. But once I got close to the end of that, I could see that I had much much more yarn left over than I wanted. So I ripped out *again*, tried a few other things that led to *more* ripping back, and finally, I went back to my original plan to incorporate the really wee scraps into the scarf. I wound up doing it a little differently – using longer mini-skeins in combination with the scraps. I also came across this fantastic video tutorial, courtesy of The Yarn Harlot, on knotting yarns together. I really adore this – it’s just a square knot, but it’s so brilliant. I’ve made knots like these endlessly on string necklaces to keep them from ever coming apart. I didn’t snip off the ends of my yarn like she does in the video – what can I say, I’m a little nutty about not liking the act of cutting yarn, and particularly since I’d ripped back umpteen times at this point, I thought it best not to cut. But it did make me feel more secure about the little wee bits of yarn not coming undone from one another.
Since then, I also created a fantastic cowl designed by Anne Hanson, as part of her Fall in Full Color club, which I am just loving the heck out of. The yarn was amazing, the pattern was quick, fantastic, and traveled well for Thanksgiving time, and despite the fact that not one person has noticed or complimented me on this bright orange cowl, I think it’s awesome. I am also very pleasantly surprised to discover that given the right outfit behind it, I can pull off wearing a bright orange item around my neck!
But now…oh now, now we have hit that deadly part of the year. The one that makes me think of the phrase “Pride goeth before the fall.” You all know what I mean – holiday time. Crunch time.
Now, a lot of knitters wind up making tons of handknits for their friends and family at this time of year. I’d like to pretend I’m one of those generous people but truly, I’m not. I am, for want of a better title, a selfish knitter. I have many reasons for that – most of them occurred within my first year of knitting. I spent that first year making oodles of gifts for all of the people whom I love, only to start having suspicions after a time that those who do not create things by hand also do not *appreciate* the amount of effort that goes into anything created by hand. I’ve given one of my friends several scarves that I’m not sure were ever worn by her. Another friend got a sweater, one friend was given socks, there was that once incident with a baby blanket for a colleague that I shudder when I think about…In any case, I started to rethink what made a human being knitworthy and came up with a few protocols.
1) If you have a baby, that baby will get at least one handknit from me. If I never see them wearing it, if I never get a photo of them wearing it, if you never mention to me how you just love that little hat – off the list. At least until the child is old enough to ask my directly for a handknit.
2) If you never wear said knitted garment around me or never mention it in conversation ever again, you’re off the list.
3) Chances are that if you ask me directly for something, you’re not getting it. This is mostly for the random strangers in coffee shops that come up and ask if I would make them a hat or handknit gloves or something else random. I don’t know you – go away.
So clearly, I have standards that can make it difficult to get onto my list. This doesn’t mean I never make things for anyone. Two very special friends got socks from me because when they saw what I was knitting, they made simple remarks to the effect of, “Handknit socks are awesome, it’s brilliant that you can make those, how cool!” They were right – socks are awesome, and for quite some time there they were my favourite things in the world to make. My mother has gotten several things because – well, she’s my mother! I’ve made things for friends purely because I wanted to – my friend Suzy adores squirrels, so she got a hat with squirrels on it one year. It helped that she’s always given me knitting related gifts, which I appreciated.
All of this is a very long way of saying, my gift list is quite short. This year, there will be only one handknit gift – slippers for Joel. I promised him these slippers at the beginning of this year, when he showed signs of totally understanding me by raving over a pair of slippers I had made for myself. You would think that, given the fact that Xmas falls at the same time every year, I would have just bought the yarn then, made the slippers, and set them aside. You would be wrong. Not ONLY did I not start then, I didn’t order the yarn for them until after Thanksgiving. (I know, I know.) Then, in some bizarre twist, KnitPicks took a week to ship the yarn – this has never happened to me before, so I presume it had to do with their massive sale that had been going on. It took about a week for it to arrive, by which point I was panicking. As a result, I only cast on for the slippers this past Saturday. Now, I’m nearly done – I really just have the two soles to do, and then we’ll felt them together. But…
…you knew there was a but, right? No way am I freaking out about just a pair of quick-knit clogs….
…I also told Joel I would knit myself a Christmas stocking, since I don’t have my childhood stocking. I should go raid my father’s house, I’m sure it’s hidden somewhere there. But a handknit stocking is all kinds of nice and lovely, so that sounded like a plan. Except that I didn’t start it. And didn’t start it, and didn’t start it, and didn’t order the yarn from KnitPicks, and just figured out what pattern I want to use last week. So in 4 days, I need to have a pair of slippers completed as well as a colourwork (did I mention it was colourwork?) stocking for myself. CRUNCH. This might be okay if I were the sort of person who could spend 4 days knitting…but I’d kind of like to get out of the house once or twice in the next few days, and I want to do some cooking and maybe even baking over the weekend…we’ll see. I have all of my Christmas movies pulled out and ready for me to have a marathon tonight with them, and then we’ll just try to sort it out from there. If it doesn’t get finished? Oh well…there are always spare stockings hanging around…