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Knitting to Pass the Time

Posted Aug 24 2008 6:39pm
I have kept my promise to myself to be creative this year. I've enjoyed learning how to knit--and really learning it this time, rather than getting frustrated and giving up. After I finished my scarf, I did knit James one in pretty Noro yarn that is nearly half silk.

Making his was an interesting experience which eventually led to giving the scarf a name. After recognizing that I'd started making it too narrow, I started it again. And again. Usually the third time is the charm, but I finally got it right on the sixth try. When I bought the yarn for it, I got suggestions from the employee at the shop and from a customer. The customer recommended I make the scarf in seed stitch (also known as moss stitch) and I liked the look of the sample I saw. The stitch creates a pattern that looks like this:

Now, I really did hear her when she emphasized that I should make sure I use an odd number of stitches per row if I wanted to make this pattern. Really. So how many stitches did I eventually have per row? 42. This is not, as anyone even remotely mathematically inclined can tell you, an odd number. Therefore, the pattern I got, using the same pattern of stitches--knit 1, purl 1, etc on each row--came out instead like this:

While I like the pattern much better for his scarf, I did recognize that this was, in fact, a ribbing stitch and not what I had originally intended to do. I realized that this scarf actually represented Life, The Universe, and Everything! With 42 stitches across, it was impossible for me to make the pattern I intended, just as the Ultimate Question and Answer cannot simultaneously exist. Thus did James' scarf get its name--Life, The Universe and Everything. (I suggested the Ultimate Answer, but he preferred the former.)

Sorry, Douglas, but you started it.

I don't have a picture of his scarf, as it was knitted in black yarn which doesn't want to photograph well. In one corner, in small numbers, I did embroider a 42 in dark blue yarn. James reminded me that we live in Nascar country, so if I made the number too large, someone would mistake him for a racing fan. Therefore I opted not to put the number on twice or in larger digits. This way he can share it with who he likes and no one else need know. He loves the scarf and he's already worn it to work, since I finished just prior to a late March cold snap.

After the scarf, I decided I wanted to work on something smaller and practice some techniques. I realized before I finished the second scarf that I was making mistakes and that there must be better ways to do some of what was difficult for me. After all, I should not need to start something simple six times! So I opted to work on a series of dishcloths that would give me the chance to try a few tricks and make something practical--and machine washable, since I was using cotton fabric. I've made two so far:

The one on the right is made using the moss stitch, and I am glad I didn't use it for the scarf, as it is stiff. The one above is the first one I've made actually following a pattern. I'll make probably two more, since I have one more variety of cotton yarn I haven't used, a varigated blue and white like the yarn above, and much more of the blue one on the right (the color is deceptively gray-looking in this picture). I don't know what patterns I will use yet, but I intend for them to be tutorials, as these two were.

I stocked up--and how--on yarn over the past few weeks, knowing I'd have the time to use it but not the money or the opportunity to buy it later. I've got yarn now for socks, yarn made of bamboo (really!), new yarns in gray and blue and green, not to mention the stash I already had! I know I want to try my hand at socks, another scarf, a poncho, a purse, a couple of string grocery bags, a cat bed and more dish towels. I purchased several books and copied individual ideas I liked and bookmarked dozens of websites full of patterns. Yes, this is a full-blown Robin-style obsession which will end only when I can't possibly learn any more.

Eventually I'll make more handknit things than this house and its inhabitants can possibly use. I'm trying to decide what to do then, whether to make things for gifts, for charity or for sale. I've discovered the addictively interesting Etsy website where many crafters sell their wares. With not much brainstorming I can think of dozens of items I'd willingly cross stitch and knit to sell on there, but I don't want to commit myself until I prove I can put forth the effort to make something worth selling. I doubt I could make a living doing this, but I could certainly feed my habit and earn some pocket money from others who would appreciate them. The idea of charity appeals, too, and before I left the bookstore, I found a book listing dozens of charity websites that take handknits for preemies, soldiers and underprivileged children, among others. I copied the sites that appealed to my nature and my abilities thus far.

I have several cross stitch plans too, and I think my next adventure will be in this medium. You never know, though--I may decide I need to do something else like pottery or origami or a webcomic next. I don't think it will be any of those (yet), but I am ruling nothing out permanently.

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