Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Everyday magic

Knitters know that they can attain near-magician status by doing a trick like knitting with five needles in public. Stares, questions and comments like “How do you do that?” or “Those are such tiny needles!” “I could never do that!”

You may know that, really, it’s just the same as big straight needles in theory, but the commenters don’t.

I get the same feedback sometimes for something I do as a matter of course, and have for years. Witness, truly nice 100% whole wheat bread.

My children, never having known any differently, just assume that bread will leap out of the oven at regular intervals, and they love to help make it. I like it this way. It’s a part of life that’s truly normal, nothing special, but at the same time, it’s a thing of wonder. Yeast! Water! Flour! Salt! Butter! A little technique and time -- Bread!

Knitting isn’t as effortless or rapidly rewarding. It’s easy to screw up, and I can’t even eat my mistakes. On the other hand, you can’t unravel a bad loaf of bread.

I realized that I have to give myself the equivalent of paragraph directions if I’m ever going to get this vest thing (and, presumably, other charted designs) done. These kinds of directions would range from the normal (right cross – two front, knit one, purl two), to the idiot-specific: “Remember, now, this is a wrong side row. Read the chart from left to right. Remember to purl the cable stitches and knit the background stitches, and also remember that you must perform the cable directions for cable A during cable A, and then remember to change when you get to cable B.”

My difficulty in following the simplest of directions cost me in precious time today. Miguel, the WonderSitter, was with the larger Things for a couple of hours today. The baby Thing was with me, napping like she was born to it snuggled up in her carseat. After running the typical “mom with babysitter” errands, I headed over to the yarn store. Because it’s a haven of peace and tranquility, compared to my house, I pulled out the Clock Vest again, determined to get it right.

Even in what were near-ideal circumstances (yarn everywhere, supportive people, expert help), I managed to knit, un-knit, and re-knit every single stitch for two rows. I read a chart the wrong way. I performed cable crosses perfectly, but on the wrong row. I purled where I should have knitted, and knitted when purling was called for. And yet? I got two more rows done. Well, according to the mileage, it was more like five rows, but I walked off with a vest two rows closer to being done. It may take more or less forever, but I’d rather do it right.

I’d rather not mess it up every time, too, so that’s where the Crazy Lady talking to myself paragraph instructions come in.

I’m going to be using them a lot, because I’ve decided to knit "Gloriana"” by JoLean Treace for the Knitter’s Olympics that the Harlot dreamed up. You know it’s going to be a challenge for me, simply because it will require more thought than just knitting in the round. But hey? Sixteen days, I can so do it.

The kids are young. They'll remember it as sixteen days they spent a lot of time with Miguel, not sixteen days of their mother muttering crazily in her chair, furiously trying to finish a simple lace scarf before the Olympic flame is extinguished.


Janis said...

I was going to do the Olympic thing but I chickened out. I hate knitting under pressure and what I picked to knit was a whole sweater.

Stephanie said...

That's it. Do it while they are young.

sewingsuzee said...

Your links aren't working...I want to see the pattern!

Your vest is going to be a wonder when done. You'll need to frame it.

Glad you all are weller and the house is filled with yeasty smells.

Stefaneener said...

I fixed the one link I found broken. You should be able to see what the pattern says the scarf will look like -- but of course I'll have to wait until February to really see.

Thanks for your support!


Dar said...

I'm actually very impressed by your bread-making abilities. I know lots of knitters now, but you're the only bread-baker.

Ruth said...

I love those scarves. I'm itching to make them, but have projects I have to get through first.

and .... mmmmmm, fresh bread. Lucky kids.