I dedicate this blog to the memory of my grandmother.
August 29, 1921 - April 30, 2015
You are not forgotten.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Internal Obscenity-Laced Monologue of a Frustrated Knitter

Hello! Yes! I'm still alive! If you missed it on Face-gram, I finished Malcolm's hoodie (took about three months, give or take). He loves it!

As an added bonus, Isaac was so impressed he quietly but plaintively asked me to make one for him too, and said, yes, green was fine.

But I promised Alyx I'd work on her sweater dress next.

But... now the holidays are upon us.

I'll save the rant about my perpetual too-many-projects syndrome, and focus in on what I'm working on right now, the details of which I will withhold because, like all the other WIPs in my knitting bag, it's a gift (don't even try, people, I'm working on... let me see... at least nine different knitted items for various people on my list).

Since we've started carpooling in the mornings and since I a. don't have to drive; and b. have some time to kill (thanks, 405), I've taken to using the time to knock some rows out.

This works better with some projects than others.  For instance, Alyx's sweater dress-- which I managed to knock out a large piece of in about a week-- is just a straight-up stockinette. Simple. Easy. Soothing.

Then there's the ones that get fancy.

This one starts out innocently enough with just basic knits and purls, but then, out of nowhere, comes Row 4. K1, P1, K1-- then YO, K2tog, K to marker; kfbs on either side of each marker-- there are four markers-- knit in between; then, after the last marker, K to last 5 stitches and here we go again! SSK, YO, K1, P1, K1.

If you aren't a knitter and couldn't make heads or tails of that: I could write it out, but I doubt, for instance, that "yarn-over" would make more sense to you than "YO" or "slip-slip-knit together" than "SSK." On the other end of the spectrum, no doubt any seasoned needler will roll their eyes or otherwise scoff at what I consider complex. 

I'll try to compromise by explaining that at the beginning and end of the row, on either side of the markered section, there's an increase and a decrease, which cancel each other out in terms of number of stitches in the row. Each marker, though, has an increase on either side of it (2), and, because there are four markers, that means that this row increases the number of stitches by 8. Since I cast on-- started with-- 29 stitches, this means when I get done I should have 37. If I don't have 37, not only did I screw something up, but (if I don't fix it) it will completely mess up the pattern, sometimes in unexpected ways. For instance, there's a world of difference in some stitch patterns between having an odd or even number of stitches in a row.

To make everything just a little more fun, this particular item is knit on two different size needles. You start out with the smaller ones, and then switch to the larger ones after Row 3. Remember that.

Warning: This is where the obscenities mentioned in the title will be coming into play, so, continue reading at your own discretion.

So I finally get to the end of the row, I breathe a sigh of relief. Then, from (long, repeatedly painful) experience, I counted my stitches. 36.

Wait-- 36?

Son of a bitch.

So I put it aside, and throughout the morning, whenever I have a couple minutes where I'm waiting for something and I would pull out my knitting, I remember I have to find my mistake and frog back, and I don't.

But then it comes time to pick up Alyx from kindergarten, and I have about seven minutes or so after I pull up before the bell.

I examine the row closely, trying to see which of my ten increases I missed. The yarn-overs stand out, so it has to be one of the eight knit-front-and-backs (kfb for short). I'm very bad at recognizing special stitches (anything more complicated than a single knit or purl) a row down, and this yarn doesn't make it any easier. But, counting between the markers, I find which section my mistake is in, and even which kfb I missed. Of course, it's two-thirds back the row. Nothing for it, though, I'll just have to grit my teeth and tink back.

But, remember, the needles changed. Plus, I use exclusively circular needles to knit everything, and I buy long cords so I can use them for magic loop. So I not only have to un-knit back, I have to do it back onto the smaller needles, the unused ends dangling and getting tangled with each other and the yarn.

I have just enough time to tink the row and re-knit. I count my stitches, my relief and pride swelling as I triumphantly finish-- "34... 35... 36."


I mean, seriously? Once is practically expected, par for the course on lace knitting, but TWICE??

I take a deep breath and suppress my urge to hurl the piece, needles and all, across the car.

I remind myself this is a hobby. A leisure time activity. A voluntary pastime out of which I'm supposed to be getting pleasure and relaxation.

I wonder if maybe it's not too late to take up coin collecting or ultimate frisbee or geocaching.

I close my eyes, sigh again, and recount. Yup, 36. Ribbit, ribbit.

I wonder if my grandmother ever swore at her knitting like this.