November 30, 2011

Frelling knitting


Mostly it’s been raining today.  Especially when I’m trying to get hounds hurtled.  I was sitting in Wolfgang this afternoon with the windows curled down just a bit so hellhound steam* wouldn’t fog up the glass, hoping that it would stop raining long enough to let me do at least an abbreviated hurtle before Tabitha was finished with Peter and ready for me, and knitting.  Arrrrrrrgh.  Remember I said the other night that I’d started a new knitting project while I was waiting for doodle photos to load?  In the first place, I have enough squares at this point for several secret projects, not only the two that . . . are still not finished because the ‘sewing up’ thing is in the way.**  In the second place . . . there is more to knitting than squares.  So they tell me.

            I decided I wanted to do something else, not only for the sake of my education.  Something that did not involve forty-six gajillion squares that would turn out to be far less square-like in aggregate than they seemed to be individually.***  Something that would be new and amusing.  I also decided I should do something that involved purling.  I have two auction squares† to produce some day when the doodle level has dropped a little farther (for all of which I have already accepted money††) and I need to be able to (a) count††† and (b) purl on command to succeed in this task.

            So I decided to resurrect the leg-warmers.  Remember the leg-warmers?  This whole knitting thing began with leg-warmers . . . almost a YEAR ago.‡  But they’re ribbed.  And ribbing looked a bit like . . . hurtling hellhounds in monsoon mud on crutches.  I prefer challenges that involve at least a 1% chance of success.   It was Fiona’s brilliant idea that I begin with a hellhound blanket, which would be pretty much hideous-beginner-error-proof because the hellhounds won’t mind, and hideous errors in a little 20 x 14 stitch square are, meh, it’s just a square, there’s always the next square.  And then I got deflected onto several wheelbarrow-loads of squares for my Secret Projects . . .

            And now it’s nearly a year later.  So I got the leg-warmer recipe, I mean pattern, out, and discovered that the Blessed Fiona had written it out for me so I didn’t have to translate either Knitting Language or recognise which number series are for grown-up-human-woman size as opposed to dwarf Pekinese.  And I began to knit.  And purl.


            . . . Okay.  Dissecting my humiliating failure, first, I am a moron, and I can’t tell left from right (or clockwise from anti/counterclockwise).  I’m reading it from one of my helpfully illustrated knitting books and it says, wrap wool anticlockwise . . . and I’m cheerfully wrapping it the other way.  ARRRRRRGH.  But the second thing is that the yarn I’d bought, despite the fact that it’s exactly what the pattern calls for and is described as ‘easy knit’ is not easy knit enough.  It’s chunky, and made up of a variety of threads, some heavier and some finer, and some gauzy little gossamer ratbags whose ultimate thrill is to get caught invisibly somewhere, tighten, and pull.  I’d forgotten, for example, that when I started out I tended to knit so fixed-and-strainingly I could barely shove the resulting stitches along the needle—I am sorry to have remembered this fact so graphically.  There was language.  There was knotted yarn.  There were rows of lumpy stitches that looked like something out of the Wreck of the Hesperus.  Slightly after I had come to this conclusion myself Fiona suggested by email that I revert to hellhound squares again for basic practise. . . .

            So that’s what I was doing, this afternoon in the car, as the rain sluiced down, and hellhounds breathed damply from the back seat.  I’d learnt to purl months ago, via Fiona and Bronwen, but, rather unforesightfully, all I’d done was purl a few entire squares just to get the motions fixed in my mind.  (Which you then flip over, and they look just like your knitted squares.)  I’d never tried swapping, knit and purl and knit and purl, let alone swapping every few stitches, as one must do for ribbing.  After the fourth time I had ripped out the first half-dozen rows of the leg-warmers (and this was not the toughest top-quality yarn to begin with, and it’s beginning to look a little haggard), I got out the hellhound yarn.   I’m working down to ribbing.  At the moment I’m knitting two rows and then purling two rows, and back again.  The first row I spend trying to revert to the other stitch.  By the end of the second row I’ve forgotten the other stitch.


            But SHADOWS is still going and going.  ‡‡‡ 

* * *

* I swear there’s about 110% more water vapour in dog breath than human breath.  Or maybe more alveoli per square inch in hellhound lungs.  

**  Sewing-up takes space.  You have to keep laying the freller out and sort of dry-blocking it to see if it at all resembles what it is/was supposed to be.  Anguish.  And then trying to decide what to do about the fact that it doesn’t.  The individual-square-knitting phase is much to be preferred.  Squares are or at least seem to be much more immediately recognisable as . . . squares.  Not to mention the not-needing-space part.  And the discovery that the squares are not square enough

*** And the lack of square-like-ness increases geometrically with every non-square added to the interesting object spread-eagled on the table.  

† Speaking of squares 

†† Yes, this preys on the mind.  Especially in the middle of the night.  The real reason for going to bed at dawn is so I can be awake and glaring back at the demons during the scary hours. 

            Have I told you we’re supposed to be able to keep our bells through Christmas, although ringing in a restrained and tactful manner might be a good idea, and then they go off to be gilded and diamond-studded in January? 

††† I am hoping that recent breakthroughs on the subject of higher maths and hard sciences may have a knock-backwards effect on my capacity to do arithmetic.  I can float lightly past my limited comprehension of Professor Stewart’s clever tricks while falling asleep in the bath, but it would be very useful to be able to add and subtract reliably.  I’m not even asking for long division.  

‡ How embarrassing.  Well, I’ve been busy.  Not writing PEG II and now—gasp—writing SHADOWS. 

‡‡‡ Maggie wrote:

Another day passes as a seventeen-year-old named Maggie.
Shadows will be about a seventeen-year-old named Maggie… and will most likely come out when *I* am a seventeen-year-old named Maggie. YAAAY!

Oh . . . golly!  Er . . . how is your relationship with algebra–?


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