15 December 2011

Christmas Sneak Peek

How silly of me to start updating my blog again just before Christmas!  I really should have known better, because I've switched to that point where all my knitting is secret-knitting!  It's awfully hard to write posts about the things I'm knitting when they're all secret.  Still... I will post a sneak peek of the secret-knitting item that most excites me right now.  Seriously, I'm enjoying this item so much that I might make it for myself sometime, too.  And it's something I've previously not enjoyed knitting, so this is a surprise to me, too!

Someday, all shall be revealed.  [insert Mr. Burns-like laughter here, Smithers.]

10 December 2011

On Getting It Right

Husband's sweater is officially on hold.  Hopefully just for a little while.  At Thanksgiving, I held what I had done up to one of his favorite store-bought sweaters and discovered that the sleeves I have made (which I have done FOUR TIMES already) are about 2 inches narrower than the sleeves of the sweater he likes.  Meaning... he thinks they will probably be too tight, and he won't wear the sweater.  No amount of explaining to Husband that he chose a tight skinny sweater pattern and the sleeves are supposed to be like that will convince him that this sweater is actually turning out the way it should.  So more fitting is needed.  I may have to do the sleeves over again.  I may have to make him choose an entirely different pattern and start over completely.  We'll see when he comes home for Christmas and tries on the sleeves I've knit so far.

Seriously, at this rate, I'm just going to go to J. Crew and buy him more damn sweaters.  Sigh.  Can this marriage be saved?*

Not just regarding the sweater, I've been doing a lot of thinking about mistakes lately.  Specifically, about making mistakes when knitting.  I am the kind of knitter who will rip out inches and inches and inches of knitting -- hours and hours of work -- if I realize I've made even a tiny mistake somewhere down the line.  Some of my knitting friends give me a good-natured hard time for my insistence on perfection in knitting.  I don't mind their teasing, of course.  I have always believed the old adage that "a thing worth doing is worth doing well."

The Amish will purposefully knit a mistake into their sweaters (usually a twisted stitch in an underarm right next to a seam so no one can see it anyway, ahem) because only God can make a truly perfect thing.  So they deliberately put a mistake in their work.  The Persians do this with their rugs, too.  Surely there are other groups that do this as well.  And I guess I understand where they're coming from -- they consider it an act of reverence/deference to the Creator, in a way.  A kind of humility, to acknowledge and accept our own place in the created order.

I appreciate the devotion intended behind this practice, but I also find it a bit presumptuous to assume in the first place that one's work would be perfect without deliberately adding a "mistake."  And is it really a mistake if you put it there on purpose?

I generally assume, particularly with knitting, but also in life in general, that nothing I do will be perfect.  Maybe I absorbed just enough Wesleyan theology at that Methodist seminary I attended -- I like the idea of "striving toward perfection," even though we know we will never get there on our own.  God's grace both brings us closer to the perfection for which we strive and makes it okay that we never achieve said perfection. Still, the striving is ours.  That's what we do.  In knitting and in life.  So I do the best I can.  If there's something to do over -- particularly something as easy as fixing a knitting error -- I should do it.  A thing worth doing is worth doing well.  Perfect doesn't even enter into it.  Meticulous, maybe.  But never perfect.

*In case you were wondering, yes, I am turning in to my mother.  She used to say this all the time.  It's the title of a real-live column from one of those 70s homemaker magazines that used to pile up next to the couch.  McCall's or Family Circle or something.  They were "gruesome" stories of minor marriage disputes, and it was left to the reader to decide "Can this marriage be saved?"  I think the desired implication was that yes, a marriage can always be saved.  I'm not sure this is true in every case.  In my case, however, the answer is yes.  It was always yes in my mother's case, as well.  My parents have been married for something like 45 years.  I suspect they'll be fine.

07 December 2011


I don't know how many hats I've made for Husband over the years. He is like the Goldilocks of hats, I swear. This one's too tight, that one's too loose. This "weave" (he means gauge, but doesn't know it) is too big, this "weave" is too small. This brim's too wide, this brim's not wide enough. This color's too light, this color's too dark... I swear, I cannot get it right. It's a hat. But something in me (pride, probably) refuses to let him just go buy a stinkin' hat already. I mean, come on. He's married to a knitter! I will resent any hat he brings into our house that I didn't knit for him. He's a good and patient and kind and understanding man, so he puts up with me and my peccadilloes. Thank God.

Anyway, it seems I have finally gotten it right. This most recent attempt was sparked by desperation: my own. I was at this conference in Boston, seaming up the baby sweater for Meowkat, and finished the seaming sooner than I expected. A whole day sooner, in fact. I was faced with sitting in a conference with no knitting for an entire day. NOT AN OPTION.

This is one of those times that I'm grateful I come from an Iowan family. We're really nice folks, we Iowans. We don't know how to be otherwise. My wonderful sister drove me to the Boston neighborhood where the conference was taking place, and on the walk from her parking space to the church where we were meeting, with only 2 minutes to spare, I popped into Newbury Yarns. They have just moved to a new space and didn't have their hours posted on the door yet -- I walked in and asked, and I was there a half-hour early. But Aldrich (sp?) let me browse anyway. And by "browse," I mean "ask her for yarn to make a hat." She pointed me toward some lovely dark-gray Karabella Aurora, I grabbed some size 6 needles, and said "You might not recognize me. I'm Anne's sister. She'll probably be in a bit later." And Aldrich practically jumped over her counter to give me a hug. "How is Anne? She is such a nice lady. Please give her my best. Are you ready to check out now? Just let me sign in..."

And that, my friends, is how I bought yarn a half-hour before the shop is open. Aldrich is, herself, a very nice person and probably would have rung me up anyway without name-dropping my sister, but I'm sure it didn't hurt.

Anyway, I slipped in to the conference only a few minutes late, sat down, and cast on 72 stitches, joined in the round. Knitted a 1x1 rib for longer enough that I was ready to poke my eyes out with the needles, then switched to stockinette. Got most of the hat done during the day, then went back to my sister's house and knit more after dinner, let myself be talked into staying the night and driving back to Vermont in the morning. In the morning, I let myself be talked into staying pretty much until lunch... and I finished the hat. (Six k2tog decreases, evenly spaced on the round -- first every-other-row for a few sets, then switched to every row for the remainder.) My sister grabbed a ball of fluorescent-hunter-orange from her stash and suggested I add a tassel on the top, so I did. It looks hilarious and wonderful.

Husband loves the hat. He thinks it's just right. Now if it would only get cold in New Haven so he can actually wear it! And then I can take a picture of him wearing it.

(Just kidding. I would not wish winter on anyone. Even someone I don't like. Because I'm nice.)

04 December 2011


Due to a hilarious (well, maybe not "hilarious," but it's either that or "frustrating," so I'll take the former) series of events, both of our guest beds have been unusable for ... six months or so? Maybe only four. Whatever, long enough that I haven't been able to block anything sizeable for a very long time.

All that has changed now, and I've now got both guest beds functional again. Come visit! But probably not in the winter, as there's no heat in this room, and I want to rent out the one that has a radiator. But meanwhile, I can block things again!

This is the long-languishing lizard ridge. Soon, friends, I will be able to sew together those long strips and add the border (I'm just going to do a garter stitch border, not crochet the silly scalloppy one in the pattern) and then it will be done! This is a very exciting thing, you know. Warm is good, up here in Vermont. Particularly in guest bedrooms that don't have heat.