January 27, 2011

The horror. The horror.


So, whatever night it was that I brought my new demon* home,  I opened one of the It’s Easy!  It’s Fun!  You’ll be knitting Fair Isle masterworks by the end of chapter two! books, and attempted to grapple with Casting On.

            I got as far as one stitch.  

            I thought, this is way too much like work.  I already know enough about work.**  So I took a photo—waste not, want not—and shoved the whole nonsense back in the plastic shopping bag.***

            And then blondviolinst told me about www.knittinghelp.com   And I went there, in a crabbed, sidelong sort of way, and clicked the Long-Tail Cast On† video and thought, oh!  That almost looks . . . familiar.  I think this is the cast-on my over-achieving knitter friend in Maine showed me, twenty-five years ago.

            So tonight†† I thought I’d give it a try. 

            So, is this casting on?  If it is, I can do it.†††  What I’m not telling you is that I did it straight off, first time.  And I thought, oh.  How very odd.  So I pulled the little row off the needle and tried it again . . . and couldn’t do it to save my life.  There followed two hours you do not want to hear about.  I got a little work done on a guest blog due this week (erp).  I fed hellhounds (and they ate).  I tried to cast on again.  Nope.  More displacement activities.  More casting on.  NOOOOOOOO.  At this point I had a serious headache and my vision had gone all kind of fuzzy and my stomach hurt.‡

            Then I figured it out again.  Long exhaaaaaaaaalation.  Also:  GAAAAAAAAH.  IS THIS WORTH IT?‡‡

            So what do I do now?   I can’t make head or tail of the knit and purl videos—and the book illustrations look like particularly unpleasant intestinal diseases.  I want to know what I do right now, with only one cast on row to my name.  I don’t want instructions that start with half a potholder.

E Moon writes


I get that part.

OK. Yes. My mother knitted. . . she knit like a fiend. She taught me. . . .but (of course) since she died I have forgotten how to cast on.

Why am I not surprised you knit?  What do you not do?  Listen, woman, if you put a ring of bells in your garage and start grinding out full peals of Cambridge and Pudsey I am going to ban you from the forum.

           Penelope also knits.  She’s another of these wretched do-everything women.  And she rings bells.‡‡‡  But I have to be nice to her because she’s married to Niall.  Who was wearing a pullover she knitted last night (he said).  Siiiiiigh.  At least now I know I have a local resource.

But yes, the knitting talk here has me yearning to pick up the needles (I inherited ALL my mother’s needles, for which she built a cabinet)

I AM SO JEALOUS.  If you find you have spares of anything. . . .

and yarn again but…I can’t cast on.

Yes you can.  www.knittinghelp.com  Double doodah Continental whatsit.  If I can do it, anyone can do it.  I suggest you omit the two-hour plunge into the void however. 

And when would I do it? 


There’s the garden . . . , the land, the horses, the book, the music, the camera…plus of course the cooking, the laundry, the other stuff. I don’t NEED anything else to do. I need more TIME.

Yes.  Rant on, I’m with you all the way.  Don’t forget the part about wanting not to need sleep.  Silly business, sleep.  And the time to READ.

But I want socks that are comfortable and fit, and I know if I could only remember how to cast on and refresh my brain on knit and purl, I could somehow cobble together nice thick socks. . . . Grump at self. Knitters say it’s easy. Non-knitters think it’s hard. Former knitters know is SHOULD be easy, and having the easy become hard is seriously annoying. 

I never got past the listing-with-curly-edges phase last time.  I’m a sort of recidivist beginner . . . which is how I introduced myself to Vicky six years ago.  I tell myself that I never broke ringing inside the first time I tried change-ringing either and . . . look at me now.  I can’t decide if this is a comforting thought or an appalling one. 


I love reading this blog. It makes me feel far less guilty about all the pursuits I’ve taken up and then let go for lack of time. . . .This summer I came across a book named something like “The Idiot’s Guide to Knitting and Crocheting” and bought it from the bargain bin. I read it through completely and then went so far as to go through a craft store and pick out a yarn in a texture I like, along with a set of bamboo knitting needles and a crochet hook that match the yarn, plus a needle for finishing off ends. They’re all sitting in the bag they came in on a counter in the living room.

You’re made of stronger stuff than I am.  I have to hide the signs of lapsed avocations.  My drawing gear is at Third House.  So is my fencing kit.  (My riding stuff is still at the cottage though . . . sigh.)  I think I got rid of my FIMO when we left the old house.  I was good at FIMO. 

Diane in MN

Dear gods above, woman, you are worse than I am for Adding Things To The List!   

I’m glad to hear I’m at the severe end.  I’d worry about the future of humankind if mine were only an average case.

But I still have quite a nice stash of yarn, and last summer I bought a handy little fit-in-your-knitting-bag Q&A reference book, 

Have I mentioned that knittinghelp has an iPhone ap, for pity’s sake?  I don’t yet follow them on Twitter, however.  I have some pride. 

so I imagine that sooner or later I’ll have something on needles again. . . .  I like your yarn choices. . . . But if you’re going to make leg warmers, why not knit in the round and save the sewing-up part?


To avoid the trauma of circs or dpns just yet! 

Of WHAT?  ::Feels trauma approaching::

We want to ease her into this, and flat will be good practice.

I confess flat feels a lot less intimidating.

(Plus, she will be able to use the rose needles if she knits flat. And she already knows how to seam up.)

I do?  I can sew up a hem or a button back on a sweater.  And darn socks, except I never do.

Black Bear responded

          Mrs Redboots wrote:  (although I, personally, prefer to make practical things I can use).

          blondviolinist wrote:  Amen. Hence my original whine about the silliness of yarn bombing. (I believe I called it a waste of good acrylic.) I could have three sweaters in the time it takes to yarn bomb a car!

Well, as an art teacher and a museum dork–er, professional, I’d like to point out that many of those creations are what I’d classify as public art. And public art is a great use of resources. Does the world NEED three more sweaters, or does it need a volkswagen whimsically encased in a giant mitten? There’s room for both in the world of acrylic yarn, I think.

This conversation may fascinate me more than the knitting does.§  I love the yarn bombing.  I think it’s fantastic.  If I got that far, I’d want to do it.  I think it’s so fantastic I keep thinking blondviolinist must be joking that she says it’s a waste of time (and acrylic).  It is public art to me.  And while as another Cold Person I entirely sympathise with the appeal of three more sweaters, public art gives more people pleasure—well, supposing it does please them—than the private ownership of three sweaters.  Which as Black Bear says is a good use of resources. 


and if anyone can show me a way to stitch up my knitting with soft seams…

What am I missing about this sewing up stuff??  What unknown, unguessed Cthulhuan unspeakablenesses await?

Black Bear

Sadly, I too am in the “allergic to wool” category–though as I’m getting older I’m finding it bothers me less, so long as I’m wearing a thick cotton shirt underneath. . . . but I still don’t think I could actually knit with sheepswool. Lanolin on hands = hives.

Fiona was worrying about this for me.  I’m someone who can’t wear a heavy knapsack over a wool sweater, even with two cotton turtlenecks under—but I can wear wool gloves, as long as I don’t wear them too long.  I’m assuming I can cope with knitting wool . . . I’m planning on finding out, anyway.  And my leg warmers will go OVER socks and jeans.   If I get that far I will be aiming ultimately for cashmere, which I can certainly wear—and do, as often as possible.  Mmmmmmmm. 

* * *

* Knitting is more of a demon horde, I think.^

^ Hee hee hee hee+

+ You all know SABLE, right?  ‘Stash Accumulating Beyond Life Expectancy’?   Fiona told me.  Fiona, you know, the woman who left the yarn shop with more yarn than me.  Of course she’s also a quarter-century younger.

** I’ve also already decided I hate metal needles.  They’re so ugly.  There are two problems here.  The first is, I don’t want to deal with ugly in a volunteer activity.  My hoover is pretty ugly too, but the floor has to be dealt with.^  I don’t have to knit.^^  The second problem is . . . all those gorgeous frelling hand-made knitting needles out there.  I DON’T NEED ANY MORE COLLECTIONS OF THINGS.^^^

^ Yes.  It does indeed.+ 

+ I don’t think I told you I finally remembered to buy a new dustpan after my old one cracked in the cold, shovelling snow?  It doesn’t work.  I bet you didn’t know a dustpan could not work, did you?  Neither did I.  I didn’t think to check.  Get down on my hands and knees in the shop and sweep something.  But the leading edge is bowed, and if you press it down toward the floor it bows worse.  So you sweep toward it and the dirt and doghair shoot under the arch with tiny maniacal cries and re-disperse over the floor ARRRRRGH.  The old cracked one works better. 

^^ No!  I don’t!  Ravelry hit a million members without me!  So sue me! 

^^^ Although knitting needles take up less space than, say . . .  books. 

*** I need a Knitting Bag.  There was a really cute one at the yarn shop.  It had cupcakes on it. 

† Which should be about monkeys or ponies or hellhounds.  Also called the Continental Two Step, I mean Cast On, which ought to be about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. 

†† It being a bell-free night, and Peter was playing bridge, and the hellhounds are used to me screaming, and don’t try to differentiate words or causes or probability of threat to the furniture, etc.  

††† If it isn’t . . . I have no idea.  But knittinghelp has half a dozen alternatives, and my two books have at least that, and Fiona comes again in a fortnight, and . . . and some forum member, I think it was, said she knows someone who knows thirty ways of casting on.  It seems to me I could just become a Casting On Expert and never get to the stressful business of projects and finishing them. 

‡ And the furniture is in serious danger. 

‡‡ How badly do I, hellhounds, or babies want legwarmers? 

‡‡‡ She doesn’t write novels.  But I wouldn’t put it past her. 

§ I’m not denying it.  There is lots of stuff out there to get interested in.  I have to be SERIOUSLY intrigued to give something a shot.  See:  E Moon on time.


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