1980: Shots fired

Out in the backyard of our house in the country, my brother and I learned to shoot with his Daisy BB gun and some larger firearms. Our property was host to varmints galore, but we left those to the dogs — by the dogs I mean Toby (who came with the house) and, later, Babe (who came home with me from gym class); poor Charlie, the middle dog, was a rescue from German Village and was always an inside dog. We took aim solely for target practice, with a range consisting of soda cans set atop fenceposts. Plink, plink, plink. Set them up again.

Dad was not obsessed with guns, but over time he had acquired a few diverse and interesting specimens of home protection. I remember when he taught me how to cope with the kick-back on a .357 magnum Ruger. It was a powerful gun, and knowing how to handle it properly was pretty satisfying. Dad also emphasized safety and proper cleaning, so when you wanted to blow some empty Coke cans away you knew you had to prepare beforehand and clean up afterwards.

We never had to fire a shot in anger, but we almost came to it once when someone spotted a field mouse in the closet by the front door. By then I was accustomed to rescuing lost and/or slightly damaged animals, and I wanted to cage it and release it. Mom rushed in with a broom to whack it into submission, and had it cornered when Dad charged down the hallway with his shotgun.

“Jim!” she yelled before he could pull the trigger. “NOT IN THE HOUSE!”

I have previously written about some of the loveliness of that apex of public education, eighth grade. It was in the middle of that school year when other people with guns began making the headlines by bringing tragedy to the world. On Monday, December 8, 1980, Mark David Chapman murdered John Lennon. My generation, born after the assassination of President Kennedy, was alive during the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, as well as the attempted assassination President Ford, but we were hardly aware of these events. This one got our attention. Everyone knew the Beatles, and everyone knew who John Lennon was. Double Fantasy, the album he had just released, played endlessly on the radio, and the track “(Just Like) Starting Over” now sounded like a cruel joke but rose from No. 6 to No. 1 on the Billboard charts after Christmas and stayed there for more than a month.

Having recently read something about the Beatles, John, and Yoko, I wrote a letter of condolence to Yoko Ono. A month or so later I received a reply — a copy of a letter she had sent out in response to the thousands of people who had acted on a similar impulse. I wish I could find this letter today.

A few months later, we heard the shocking news that President Reagan had been shot by John Hinckley, Jr., and some of his Secret Service agents had been wounded while protecting him. The whole incident had been caught on film, and we the captive audience watched it over and over for days, still disbelieving. There was a brief period of procedural chaos while Reagan underwent emergency surgery, but soon order seemed to have been restored.

Two months later, I was leaving school and headed for my bus when I heard, probably from a radio in the school secretary’s office, that the Pope had been shot. When I raced onto the bus and told my driver the breaking news, she thought I was making it up. To tell you the truth, it could have even been the other way around: perhaps I heard the news on the school bus radio and then ran back into the building to inform the secretary. It was a confusing time, and it was all a long time ago.

 


 

Knitwise, I wasn’t sure what project to take up next after I finished the slippers and hat. So I went to the biggest bin that was easiest to reach, and pulled out two items that could be considered works in progress. The first was a purple-and-white acrylic project that had begun as a hat, then transmogrified into a baby sweater. (I was bored. Work with me, people.) Now it’s sort of a toddler-sized vest, with some stitches on holders, some stitches live, and with no clear plan as to how to bring it all together into something that a very young person could actually wear. If I look at it for much longer, it might turn back into a skein and get donated to someone more clever than I. At this point, that could be anyone.

Another project on hand was Nakia’s Infinity Scarf. With the jury still out on whether one should knit a Noro Silk Garden ball of yarn from the inside or the outside, and with me nearly paralyzed by looking at the charts for this pattern, I moved along to Project Three.

Said Project Three turned out to be two skeins of the Michaels version of Lion Brand Homespun in a blue-green blend. I had set them aside to be used in a pattern that used three blue-toned yarns in an alternating sequence to produce…something. The pattern wasn’t even with the yarn any more, so the yarn was available for reassignment. I tried a US 13 needle, frogged the unsatisfactory results, then cast on 42 stitches on a US 15 needle and gartered away. At this point I have just started knitting the second skein. I have plans to make something a bit classier (and more complicated) than a blue-green rectangle, but first I have to finish the basic rectangle. It’s good to have goals.

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Published in: on April 9, 2018 at 9:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

1979: This ain’t no disco

Let’s face it, 1979 was not exactly a peak year in American history. I searched for a cultural high point and I found events that included the nuclear reactor meltdown at Three Mile Island, the start of the Iran hostage crisis, and even Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park. In my personal history, this year is associated with seventh grade — the middle year of middle school. It’s also tough to find a personal high point.

Merging with the other elementary school students in sixth grade had been an opportunity to get sort of a fresh start at making friends, but my circle hadn’t gotten much larger than the few people I had met and hung out with at Derby Elementary. Being in the marching band would eventually be the the activity that led to travel, danger, challenge, and achievement — but not this year, when I was still learning notes and trying to march and play at the same time.

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Recently we had gotten some new music into the house, after a lapse of more than a decade since my parents’ college days. In a flurry of purchases we wound up with the soundtracks for Annie, Star Wars, Tron, Grease, and Saturday Night Fever. This was followed up with a Bee Gees album and two multi-disc John Denver albums. We actually had a wide range of music in the collection, and I was never quite sure which belonged to Mom and which belonged to Dad. Eventually, it just became one eclectic shelf of albums by 101 Strings, Mott the Hoople, the Smothers Brothers, the Chad Mitchell Trio, The Christy Minstrels (not to mention The New Christy Minstrels), Crystal Gayle, the Kingston Trio, Jethro Tull, the Brothers Four, Godfrey Cambridge, Tom Lehrer, Helen Reddy, and the various casts of several Broadway plays. Oh, yes, hipsters — it was all on vinyl.

Man of La Mancha

Many years later, my parents sold their house, moved into an apartment while they built their next house, and had a garage sale to get rid of the extra items before they had to haul them all over Pickaway County and back. Before the sale, my brother and I cherry-picked the album collection, and I think we’re each happy with what we saved. Those weird albums are our childhood, and they were shared with the open air and everyone else in the house in the days before headphones, the Sony Walkman and Discman, and even boom boxes. Digital music, CDs, and iPods were decades away. Music in our house was public, and if I ever annoyed anyone with the stack of albums I queued up on the record player, they never mentioned it or I have long since forgotten their dissatisfaction. Perhaps I didn’t even notice it at the time.

Stacker Changer

The other medium of music in our house was the audio cassette. The blank ones came in three-packs at KMart and I always seemed to be running out of them. I was a devoted listener when the American Top 40 with Casey Kasem came on every Sunday, and I often positioned the portable tape recorder next to my clock radio and did my best to record my favorite songs without any of the commercials. (Funny that, these days, I might be more eager to hear those old lost, local commercials than the songs I’m likely to still hear on ‘oldies’ radio stations.) This was a tricky enterprise, as I could not sing along or even make any noise in my room while making the recording, or the creaky floor would end up on the tape, too.

The prerecorded tapes came via the Columbia House Music Club at six for a penny and a flat fee for every month thereafter (or until you got sick of them). My six selections were the soundtrack to the Muppet Movie, the soundtrack to The Rose, and four Barry Manilow albums. I do remember that there was a default album that came if you didn’t send in your selection in time (by postcard, if I remember correctly). I accumulated plenty of music this way, but the one genre I never really expanded upon was disco.


Knitwise, I finally finished two pairs of slippers, then decided to turn as much of the leftover yarn as I could into a hat. It ended up fitting better than the slippers did, but since it was for a toddler it didn’t stay on for long. Sometimes it really is the thought that counts. You’ll appreciate it when you’re older and colder, Jake.

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What’s next on the needles? Probably something I still need to finish, but I haven’t settled yet on one of my myriad options. Stay tuned!

Published in: on April 2, 2018 at 10:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

1978: The Blizzard

When my family moved to the country, we found ourselves on an unexpectedly steep learning curve. There were school buses to ride, new living arrangements, new chores to do, and new routines to learn. Boots slunk through the house pressed up against the walls for a long time before she was brave enough to venture into the rooms’ open spaces. One of the things that was surprisingly hard to adapt to was how dark it was at night.

I hadn’t even realized that I was accustomed to the glow of headlights sweeping their way around the walls of my bedroom as cars passed our house at night on our comparatively busy city street (only compared to the one-way streets which ran parallel to it). The lights and the mild road noise of the cars must have been soothing to me, for without them I found myself wide awake on the top bunk in the room I now shared with my brother. There were no lights from other houses, and no streetlights.

The nights at our new house were dark, but they certainly weren’t quiet. Outside of a Disney movie, there is no such thing as one cricket chirping; they must have contracts that prohibit them from singing in choruses of less than a million. The ropes in our old pulley windows were broken, so my bedroom window was propped open with a slat of wood to let in all that fresh country air. It also let in all the loud and mysterious country sounds, all night long.

Eventually I was able to sleep through the night. This was proved on the night when the wood-slat slipped and the window crashed down to the sill and woke my terrified parents, who were convinced that I had fallen out of the top bunk. They arrived at my room to find me and my brother sleeping soundly.

We had moved in August, so there hadn’t been time to put in a vegetable garden. That would have to wait until spring, when we also learned about hanging clothes on the line about two days before we learned about the manure spreaders used by the farmer who lived on the adjacent property. (Several months later we learned why people don’t, under normal circumstances, plant twenty hills of zucchinis.) Dad learned how long it would now take for him to drive to work, Mom learned how long it would take us to get home from school, and my brother and I learned how long it took to walk from the house to the road and wait for the school bus. We learned that no one would come to trick or treat at our house on Halloween (I was sick with the chicken pox anyway; my costume-and-candy days were over). We learned that the Columbus paper would be dropped off at the end of our 600-yard driveway, not at the house as promised by the circulation department.

On January 26, 1978, we learned about blizzards. I woke in the middle of the night to a howling noise that swirled above my head, which was positioned in the uppermost spot in the northwest corner of the house. Scared, I crept down the ladder at the end of the bed and tried to sleep on the couch instead. I lay still and realized that now, with all the space between myself and the ceiling, the winds were even louder and more frightening. I don’t know how I made it to morning, but by the time everyone else woke up the noise was easier to bear. When the wind finally died down, we found that we had been snowed into the house. Literally. I couldn’t budge the front door for the three-foot drift on the front porch. It was a Thursday morning, but it was obvious that school was out of the question for quite some time.

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Not my father’s Volkswagen.

I remember parts of the Blizzard like snapshots from an album. With my brother, I dug tunnels in the six-foot snowdrifts behind the barn. I sat in the passenger seat of Dad’s green Volkswagen Beetle as he attempted to clear the driveway by driving to the road; the Bug stuffed itself in the drifts when we reached the top of the hill, and we returned to the garage to fetch snow shovels and dig it out. I trudged through the drifts with a broom, using the handle to pole for several days’ worth of Columbus newspapers that we had to carefully dry out over the floor registers (competing for space with boots, and sometimes Boots). When we were finally able to reach the road, the snowplows had created eight-foot walls of hard-packed pure-white snow all the way to the state highway. We were living in a world beyond our control.

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This was not our road, but this is how it felt to drive on it.

We didn’t run out of food at our house; if the power went out, we must have coped somehow. From the point of the view of a ten-year-old, it was an extra vacation with all the snow forts, sledding, and tobogganing anyone could possibly want. From the point of view of an adult it was a killer storm that claimed dozens of lives, across Ohio and the rest of the Midwest, mostly those of highway motorists who had abandoned their cars. But as a child I didn’t know that, and I never heard the term “white hurricane” applied to this storm. For us it was always known as the Blizzard of 1978, and no subsequent winter ever measured up to this one.

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Just give us our paper, darnit!

 


 

Knitwise, the project-after-the-Olympic-cowl is done. I’ll have to contact the recipient to see if she wants delivery right now or in time for next winter. Meanwhile, I discovered a slipper project that I abandoned for some reason after finishing the knitting (but not finishing the finishing) of the first slipper. I hadn’t left myself any helpful notes, but I looked at it carefully, cast on for a second slipper to match, and compared the two projects all the way along, until I cast off the second slipper and found that it was clearly larger than the first slipper. I have since cast on for a third slipper in hopes that it will match the second one (or even the first one; at this point I can hardly afford to be picky). Time will tell.

Published in: on March 26, 2018 at 9:40 pm  Comments (2)  

1971: Before I could read

A few decades ago, my father asked me if I thought it was possible that someone who knew how to read could view text in their native language and not be able to read it. I never asked him why he had asked the question, but I believe that my answer at the time was No – I didn’t think that a literate person could not be able to read something.

I still think that answer is basically true. A stroke or a bout of aphasia could impair your ability to read for a certain amount of time, and acute trauma could impair your perceptions to a degree that might include reading or speech, but I don’t know that personal literacy is something you can voluntarily disable. (Officer: “Didn’t you see that stop sign back there?” Driver: “The red sign? I saw it, but I decided not to read it. Did it say something important?”)

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When I went off to kindergarten at age five, I could not yet read. I remember the thick workbook that we used that year, full of colorful pictures and words and phrases in simple black type. I remember the meaningless, the flatness of it before I was able to crack the code. I also remember the thrill that came over me when I realized that I could do it — I could read the words! I could read all the words, including the ones on the previous pages. Yesterday I was going through the motions, but today I could really read!

Epiphany

Because my birthday is in the middle of summer, I can guess that I learned to read when I was about five and a half. But I had been surrounded by words much longer — probably all my life — and my parents thought I already knew how to read. I was outed during a visit to West Virginia, when I sat with my great-grandfather and we read my favorite book, “Hop on Pop.” Everyone was impressed with my precocious abilities until Grandpap turned two pages at once and I proceeded to recite the text printed on the skipped page. (You would think that my family members would have been even more impressed by my ability to memorize an entire book, but that was apparently not the case.)

After I did learn to read I was rarely without a book, or any other collection of words. I strayed from the shelves of books at my reading level so that I could try something more advanced. At the public library this meant moving from the children’s books room to the shelf just outside that held the Encyclopedia Brown series, and later to a book on how to write Chinese characters. At the school library this meant leaving the Matt Christopher sports series (and exciting titles like Catcher with a Glass Arm and Slam Dunk!) for the thickest book on the nonfiction shelf (which turned out to be a stultifyingly dull book about wildflowers or botany or something; ugh). I read voraciously in the two newspapers that came to our house every day, the Columbus Citizen-Journal in the morning and the weightier and more conservative Columbus Dispatch in the evening. I typed up my own attempt at a neighborhood newspaper on my manual typewriter in the fourth grade (there was only one edition; it’s quite the rarity) and eventually I began writing my own short stories and longer pieces.

Kids these days are a bit quicker on the draw than I was, and all of mine learned to read before I did. My third child, probably out of sheer boredom, taught himself to read at age three by playing Pixar movies with the captions on. His younger brother thought this was normal, and duly copied him. But all four of them have discovered, enjoyed, written, and illustrated stories much more complicated than “Hop on Pop,” to which dozens of homemade chapbooks detailing the adventures of Toilet Man, Captain Chale, and the TIME HOLE attest; the elder two are writing fan fiction and moving on to create their own complex and realistic fictional worlds, for which I occasionally serve as a sounding board and consultant.

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Can they look at something and not read it? I’ll ask them without telling them why I want to know.

 


 

Knitwise, I have finished the two pairs of slippers for my grandmother; I only have to seam them up. That’s close enough to actually being done to let me think about the next project I should finish: Oliver’s blanket. I will have some crocheting to do for that blanket to realize my original vision. (Actually, my original vision called for someone else to crochet the squares.) Alternatively, I could frog the squares I’ve knitted and just knit a regular freakin’ blanket, which might take less time but would have more joins. Where’s the fun in that? (To hasten my work I’ll try to think about how cold that poor newborn child must be during our round after round subzero temperatures, and I’ll ignore all the cuddly, snuggly Facebook pictures already posted by my friend, his doting grandmother.) When I’m done with the baby blanket it will finally be time to finish the Swedish Surprise.

Published in: on February 5, 2018 at 10:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

1970: The very creaky chair

NOTE: As I find, or take, pictures of this chair I will use them to illustrate this post.

In my home library there is a rocking chair in which no one ever sits. Its spindled back, these days, is draped with a blanket I knitted a year ago; on the seat rests a round gold cushion that I use on the extremely rare occasions I decide to sit zazen. A tote bag with my current knitting projects hangs from one of the back posts. At night, my discarded daytime clothes lay atop the gold cushion; during the day, my pillows sit on the seat after I convert my futon from bed to couch.

The chair is positioned in the corner of the room, in front of a bookcase that houses sheet music for piano, guitar, and saxophone; books about musicians ranging from John Denver to Leonard Cohen; books about guitar building, playing, and repair; and at least a hundred compact discs, a few cassette tapes, and dozens of record albums. The cherry-laminate bookcase is topped with stereo components and flanked by speakers. If I want to find a disc or an album, I must first drag the rocking chair out of the way; that’s when I see the grooves that the rockers have pressed into my carpet.

Why do I keep this chair in such an awkward spot? The short answer is that it literally won’t fit anywhere else. It’s too wide to fit through the doorways of the upstairs bedrooms (I’ve tried), and none of my sons has expressed a desire to have it in his room. There’s not enough space for it in any other room in this house, and moving it to the basement would probably destroy it through heat and cold cycles, floods, and vermin.

A longer answer is that this chair isn’t something I want to use every day. It’s a family heirloom, and I’m afraid that if it were used more often it would break. When my children where little, just big enough to climb into it and really get it going, I was terrified that they would over-rock it and topple over backwards (they came close). I don’t even remember how it came to be my chair; perhaps when I started living on my own in my twenties, I had room for it when others did not and never subsequently gave it up.

There’s nothing particularly special about this chair’s construction. In fact, if you sat in it you might be convinced that its construction was about to fail at any second. It creaks when you sit in it, creaks when you rise from it, and practically screams if you rock in it. Yet it has surely been in my family for at least a century.

At some point several years ago I did a bit of research and found that this type of chair is called a grandfather chair because of the breadth of its seat; narrower chairs are called, predictably, grandmother chairs. In my family’s case this is a bit ironic, as the story goes that my father, now within one moon of turning 84, was rocked to sleep in this chair as an infant in his grandmother’s lap. I’m not sure which of my father’s grandmothers it was who did the rocking. Grandma Grace had four sons, including my grandpa; Grandma Naomi had two sons and three daughters, including my grandma. Either way, the chair had probably been used to rock many babies before my father came along – perhaps even the entire previous generation.

My great-grandmothers passed on in the 50s and 60s, and then Grandma passed on in the 70s. Her youngest son – of eight boys! – was just twenty years old when she died. Many years later I told him that I had the rocking chair. A smile spread across his face and he asked, “Was it really creaky?” He couldn’t have heard his brothers being rocked in the chair; perhaps he watched and listened as my cousins, his nieces and nephews and maybe even myself, were rocked in it. (If it were that creaky by the 1960s, it must have given us Lamb babies a tolerance for high levels of ambient noise, which is not necessarily a bad thing.)

It’s not a Windsor chair, an Adirondack chair, a Bentwood rocker, a Mission rocker, or anything you can call up on the first (or second) page of a Google Image search. It could be oak, might be maple, might be store-bought, might be homemade (generations of woodworkers and cabinetmakers run through all my family trees). But it’s irreplaceable to me and I will continue to take care of it.

This chair is the source of my first memory. My mother sat in this chair in the summer of 1970, rocking something in her lap that I thought at the time was a kitten. It turned out to be my little brother, and life would never be the same.


In my knitting life, I did in fact miss a day of knitting at least one stitch – last Friday, when all was chaos. That’s not so bad over the course of a month. There’s been more than enough going on to keep me busy and cause plenty of stress, which has driven me to do more with my meditation. It can’t hurt, and neither should the knitting.

I have finished knitting three of four slippers for my grandmother; after I finish the fourth slipper I will seam them all and then work on squares for a baby blanket for a friend who recently became a grandmother. Why is it that I am constantly knitting for grandmothers? I suppose that the blanket is really for Oliver, not Jenny. When Oliver’s blanket is done I will have some project choices to make: cast on for a local knitalong, or finish a project that was promised three years ago? Cast your vote in the comments.

Published in: on January 29, 2018 at 9:50 pm  Comments (1)  

Thoughtful

In 2014 I actually did a lot of knitting. It’s hard to tell this because I didn’t spend much time on Ravelry fussing with my queue, creating new project files, updating old projects, or taking and uploading digital photos of my projects at each stage of progress. (Actually, I didn’t spend much time on Ravelry doing anything.) But I always had a project to take to Knit Night, and things slowly got done.

I finished the Drunken Octopus Sweater.

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I finished Citron.

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I finished Traveling Woman.

Travelling Woman

I finished a pair of socks.

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I also knitted slippers for my appreciative grandmother, squares for a group-project blanket, and probably a few other things for people who really didn’t care much one way or the other.

In 2015 I’m still looking at my pile of WIPs (Works in Progress) with an eye to finishing them before I start any new projects of substance. A few of these WIPs are small and need just a bit of focused attention (green wool slippers) to move them to the “finished” column. Some of them are big and tedious (Scrabble blanket) and will take many months to properly complete. Others are ambitious and filled with complex lace or cable patterns, and got stalled out early.

That being said, a baby was recently born on the other side of the country, and in a fit of love and familial compassion I whipped up a pair of booties for him and even threaded them with blue organza ribbon. And then I thought up a simple baby blanket scheme (I wouldn’t call it a pattern, but I suppose you could if you wanted to) and cast on and started knitting like the wind. The baby’s already been born, you know. You have to knit more quickly after the baby’s been born, or you might as well forget the nursery accessories and start planning a size 10 Wallaby pullover.

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I’m finding now that I’m taking more time to think about which project I want to finish next, and why. I need to think about why I’m knitting it, and for whom I’m making it (if it’s not for myself). I need to think about when and where I’ll be able to work on it. Some of these projects will need some serious recon time before I might be able to take them to a public place to work on them.

This type of thoughtfulness seems to be spilling over into other areas of my life. I’m more thoughtful and deliberate about how I spend my limited time at home, what I wear to work, how I want to accomplish a task, and how I interact with friends and acquaintances. I don’t feel the need (or perceive the value) of rushing through things as quickly as possible. It’s all right, and sometimes better, to reply with “no,” or “wait,” or “let me think about it,” or “I’m not sure, but probably not.”

Quick reactions often lead to more crises for me — I don’t have the time to fully understand my situation, realize my options, or decide upon the optimal solution. It’s good to be able to slow things down when I can, to have some space around the decision point. It gives me more time to take care, to make a better choice, to think more than one move ahead. (It might even aid my chess game.)

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is my writing. I didn’t do much blogging last year, but I did start a journal. I reviewed a movie on another blog. And I wrote a lot of song lyrics. I lost count, but there were a few dozen. Most were shared with just one or two trusted friends, but some were “published” only for my own sight as I still need time to deal with both the wording and the emotional message being expressed. I intend to continue the journal-keeping, and I also intend to return to this blog with more frequency, whether I’m writing about my knitting projects or some other topic.

Resolutions are fun to make (remember my own Sheep and Wool Challenge? yikes), and intentions are just intentions until they’re backed up with action. One of last year’s epiphanies was that, to be blunt, nobody is interested in what I want to do. But if I actually do something, some people might be interested in what I did. Most people won’t be interested, and that’s fine. But I still need to do the things, for my own varied reasons. I’ll share some of the things I do. If you are interested, or appreciative, or appalled, or intrigued, give me your feedback. And please feel free to share with me the things you’ve decided to do.

If I Could Turn Back Time

This week I got all the way to this

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and turned it into this.

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When I took it off the needles I was also taking a load off my shoulders. The knitting was putting me to sleep. The thought of continuing on for two whole skeins to make yet another wool blend scarf nobody had asked for was just oppressive. I found out what the mystery pattern looked like, and that’s all I wanted to know anyway. I slid the project off the needle, pulled it all out, and wound it back over the skein and put the yarn back in the stash. It will be something else someday. I don’t know what; I don’t know when. Right now that’s none of my concern.

Doing something you’re good at and enjoy shouldn’t feel like you’ve been sentenced to the salt mines. If it’s boring you or annoying you, you can undo it and do something else. The yarn doesn’t really care. It probably wanted to be something else anyway. Knitting is one of those amazing activities that allows you to do a tiny thing over and over and over and end up with something tangible to show for it at the end (unlike, say, trying to clean a house that is full of children). It also lets you go back in time a bit to fix your mistakes (which would be handy with parenting a house full of children). And sometimes, moving your marker all the way back to GO and forfeiting your $200 is exactly what you need to do.

What I’m knitting this week:

This week I picked up a couple of projects that I set down some time ago. The first project was a pair of slippers everyone thought I was knitting so quickly. Well, I was… until I stopped. Funny how that works. I wasn’t quite sure how to do the next step in the pattern, so I put it all away for a while. Then my feet got ice cold and I thought, “How hard would that next step be to learn anyway?” Turns out it wasn’t hard at all. I now have one slipper done except for two seams and some weaving-in, and I’m nearly halfway done with the second slipper. That was Monday morning.

Top: woolen canoe. Bottom: Almost a slipper.

Top: Woolen canoe.
Bottom: Almost a slipper.

On Tuesday night I went to my knitting group and resumed work on the Drunken Octopus Sweater. I got the stitches all picked up for the ribbed collar band, and right now I’m knitting away on that section. When it’s done there is a bunch of seaming to do, and then it will look like a proper sweater while I pick up and knit the bottom edge and add ribbing to it. And add the button bands. And add buttons. It will be so satisfying to get this done, particularly because my office is cold in the morning. (But my house is cold at night. Do I really have to knit another one?)

Of course, pride goeth immediately before rows one has to rip back. I was so thrilled to be working on the sweater again that after a mere glance at the pattern, I was cranking out the two inches of collar I thought I needed. But after a while I started thinking, Shouldn’t there be a purl row for turning this collar? It’s going to be awfully bulky. When I had knitted for two inches I finally read the pattern. Knit for ONE inch, purl one row, switch to smaller needles, knit for one more inch. Ouch. Well, there was no way around that one, so I sat and un-knitted each stitch of 1×1 ribbing for six rows of 71 stitches each before being able to move forward properly. Yeahhhhh, that wasn’t much fun. Next time, I’ll read the pattern, or at least try to look at it for more than a microsecond.

Almost collared.

Almost collared.

I have knitted sweaters before, three of them. Two were so simple that you shouldn’t really think of them as sweaters, but as “children’s tops made with yarn.” The third sweater was Tyrone. If you’ve been reading this blog so long that you remember Tyrone, you understand why I don’t have anything else to say about it. (If you’ve only joined us recently, Dear Reader, search the blog for “Tyrone.” And be kind.) This project feels like a real sweater, and it’s a sweater for me. And it’s supposed to be a certain size. I don’t make many of those kinds of projects. Scarves, blankets, and hats are pretty forgiving, and you can almost always find someone with feet that fit the socks you just finished. This is an Intentional, Sized Thing. We’ll see how all that works out.

Published in: on January 23, 2014 at 9:01 am  Comments (4)