Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I'm Knitting As Fast As I Can.....

The snow's comin' down,
I'm watchin' it fall,
("Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)", P. Spector & E. Greenwich) *
Look! It's snowing like heck outside! (I know, the camera can't really catch a good enough pic, but you can kind of see it blowing out there...)
I'm waiting for Blaine to come home and take me to my regular appointment with the psychiatrist. (Yes, I see a psychiatrist---you didn't think I was crazy enough to go through life without SOME supervision of my nuttiness, did you?)
(That poor doctor, bless his heart---he never knows whether I'm telling him my insane thoughts in all seriousness or if I'm just pulling his leg---which I do sometimes to amuse myself, heh!)
("Why, you know, sir....I thought my knitting yarn was talking to me the other day. It was the Regia---and it was saying 'knit me first!'")
(Incidentally, for some reason the good doctor told me not to admit on my blog that I see him---he said "They don't need to know that---nor do they need to know that you think your yarn is talking to you...." )
Anyway, my regular ride to the doctor cancelled because of the snow, and so Blaine's going to take me instead. And I'm knitting while I wait. I love to knit while it's snowing outside. Sit me down with a good movie, a good cup of coffee, and the curtains thrown open so I can see the snow---and I'm good for the day. But all I've done all week is argue with my irksome knitting yarn and double-pointed knitting needles, desperately attempting to make some progress on my intended Christmas gifts while the Christmas countdown keeps ticking closer and closer to its deadline.....
The problem is that I am an extremely "sloppy" and haphazard knitter, according to some people, and so I tend to run into problems. But I can't help it---I have always been a rebel. The things I knit are usually somewhat quirky--and not always "perfect"--- but that's just the way I knit. I think I'm like Mrs. Weasley in the Harry Potter movies---I just love the things she knits.
Being a rebel can be a good thing sometimes, freeing me up to be myself. For instance, it means that I am not bound by fashion rules (see my post on the disastrous trip to Bass Pro Shops.) I can wear any bizarre thing I want and nobody says a word to me. They might whisper behind my back but I'm used to that.
Also, whenever I am caught talking to myself in public nobody thinks a thing about it. "You know how SHE is...." they say to each other. Because I always talk to myself in public. I even argue with myself in public. And I have no problem asking innocent passerby's for their opinion on my inner arguments---and they usually give it to me.
I once asked a passing shopper if she thought I should get some on-sale underwear briefs for my 2nd-to-last husband---they were in a bargain bin in a grocery store and I was hesitant to buy underwear in a grocery store versus a clothing store. "Go ahead," she replied. "It's 6 pairs for five bucks---a great deal. Wrap them in a nice box and he'll never know you bought them in a grocery store."
"My thoughts exactly," I commented as I tossed them into my cart along with some spaghetti sauce, a package of pasta, and a can of mushroom pieces. "I'll let him think I bought them at Dillards..."
Where was I?
Oh yes, it's snowing and I'm having trouble knitting some Christmas gifts.
I have unconventional knitting habits. I think part of it is because of the way I was taught to knit.
I was taught to knit by my beloved nanny. My parents worked for the US government and I was raised in foreign countries. And when I was about 11 years old we lived in Lisbon, Portugal, where I had a wonderful nanny named Odelia. (I saved her life one time---maybe I'll tell you that frightening story some day---and perhaps I'll tell you where my parents left her when we were transferred to another country.....it still haunts me....)
Anyway, Odelia was the one who taught me to crochet and knit.
I bless Odelia every day of my life for introducing me to a craft which has brought me untold joy, comfort, and relaxation.
Knitting and crocheting is one of the main ways I stay sober these days---it is my method of relaxing from my inborn constant anxiety. I've even knitted during AA meetings.
But Odelia taught me to knit and crochet in the European method, which is where girls are taught to shape and design their knitting (and crocheting) on their own, out of their heads, without the benefit of written directions. She taught me to memorize stitch patterns or make up my own stitch patterns---and then forge ahead, while incorporating and blending whatever knowledge I had learned from her into my own designs. And she taught me to "fit" the knitted garments to the intended individual as I went, tailoring and sizing as I progressed, while using my own intiative and minds eye.
Over the years I have expanded on this habit, knitting from those childhood memories of the skills I learned from Odelia and other European knitters---as well as continually gathering new knowledge and skills from knitting books, magazines, and the advice of other knitters. Odelia always knitted beautiful, wondrous things---but my own knitting creativity ended up going down a slightly different path....
My knitting is a hodgepodge of that childhood learning---and it is driven by my innate rebelliousness and constant desire to "experiment", especially with colors---which usually deviates wildly from what "normal" knitters do. My knitting does not always look "normal"---it frequently looks somewhat quirky. Oh well---I always maintain that the act of knitting, in itself, is still a pleasant and relaxing activity for me---especially when it's snowing outside--- whether or not whatever I'm knitting comes out "normal" or not, you know what I mean?
I'll never forget this wonderful German lady who owned a knitting supply store in Austin, Texas. I would go buy yarns and needles from her and she'd show me all the latest knitting magazines with their interesting new patterns and techniques----and then I'd oblige her by buying the patterns.... but then inform her that I wanted to substitute yarns, change colors, and rearrange the entire stitch patterning in some crazy idea that I "wanted to try".
Now this lady was known throughout the Austin knitting community for being extremely opinionated about what her customers bought and knitted with---in fact, some customers used to get really intimidated by her insistence that customers use whichever yarns SHE thought were appropriate---and she'd flip out and have a fit over my strange ideas, swearing up and down to me that to perform any substitutions for my own nutty preferences would be disastrous.
Sometimes she was right, but sometimes she was wrong. I'd knit things however I wanted to anyway--- and then take the finished items back to her in order to "prove" that my ideas had been sound. And I never used normal colors---I had always picked bizarre, psychedelic combinations which I nervously believed would cause her to have a cardiac arrest. But one time, to my astonishment, she looked at what I knitted and smiled, saying in her beautiful German accent: "You should haf been German---you are brave wiz zee colors!"
I get great ideas out of knitting books, magazines, and on the internet---I learn important fiber, technique, stitch patterns, and guaging information from them---but ultimately I cast on my stitches and barge forward, knitting madly along without the benefit of a written pattern, come what may....
Sometimes I have "successes"---and sometimes I have "disasters". Currently I'm knitting 3 pairs of socks for Christmas gifts. And my knitting score is 2--to--1 in favor of the successes.
Here's a success---some purple Regia Jacquards (using purple Opal for the contrast color) for a sister-in-law for whom I need a "make peace" gift (don't ask---it happened ten years ago when I was "under the influence"--- and since she has invited me to her house for the big family Christmas celebration while telling me her shoe-size, I figure she's finally ready to "forgive and forget"):
It's my first attempt at a short-row heel, using Lucy Neatby's percentage garter-stitch method, which confuses me as I knit back and forth (all that "slipping" and "wrapping"), but I think I've finally gotten the hang of it. And they're being knitted on size 0's, which makes the progress somewhat slow...
And then here's a disaster:
No, the disaster isn't the fact that they don't "match", the heel flap looks funny, and the base color is a somewhat weird neon-glowing mass of blues, rust and greens. (I frequently, and deliberately, make "non-matching fair-isle" socks in wild colors---I'm too impatient to follow a fair-isle chart and I like to use "easy" little patterns so that I can do them absent-mindedly while watching television.)
The disaster part is that they're slightly too loose---thus too big. Like an idiot, I waited to try them on my ex for a "fitting" when I had already knitted down to the foot. WHY DID I WAIT??? I'm too rebellious to frog them back and fix the sizing---I'd have to re-knit the whole dang things. They're too far along to frog, I say.
And so I'm going to finish them in my own foot-length, for myself. My feet are always cold and I usually wear multiple pairs of socks at once around the house. So I'll use these as the top pair. I like wearing baggy "house socks"---might as well use these.
So I cast on to make another pair for the guy---and this time I got the size correct. And I decided to make them "match" in their fair-isle-ish-ness. (Is "fair-isle-ish-ness" a word?) But, unfortunately, I knitted them while watching really exciting movies on television----and subsequently made some mistakes in the fair-isle patterning.
But nope---I'm not frogging them. (Told you I was rebellious.) (Oh well again....)
Lastly, here's a pic of the back of something I started for myself. It's one of those items that I saw in a knitting book and just HAD TO HAVE!!!! It's so ME!!!
When I saw the below picture while perusing the knitting books in "Borders" bookstore, I startled a nearby shopper by showing her the picture and loudly asking her: "Isn't this the COOLEST AND MOST FABULOUS THING YOU EVER SAW???"
The hapless lady didn't answer---she just politely nodded in confusion and stealthily inched away towards another shelf.
Fooey on her---anyway, it's the "Molly's Amazing Technicolor Housecoat" in the book "Charmed Knits, Projects for Fans of Harry Potter" by Alison Hansel. And again, I LOVE THIS THING!!!
I love it so much that I began knitting it, using red for the body (instead of pink, as the pattern directs----remember, I'm brave wiz zee colors....) and I have actually been trying to follow the pattern fairly close to what Ms. Hansel recommends, even though I had to change the numbers for my size as I'm smaller than the smallest size in the directions---and...well....I threw in some stripes that aren't in Ms. Hansel's original pattern..... and.... I....uh... added a seed stitch border on the bottom. But I'm sure Ms. Hansel won't mind. Here's a link to her wonderful blog.
Again, I love this pattern so much that I even watched the DVD "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" all over again just to see Molly Weasley wearing this sweater. When she appeared in it I "paused" the DVD during her scene and began shouting for Blaine: "Look! She's wearing the Amazing Technicolor Housecoat! Do ya see it? That's what I'm knitting!"
Poor Blaine was nonplussed. And I saw that look on his face which means he is thinking to himself: "You know how she is..."
It says in Ms. Hansel's book that this sweater "requires both a strong personality to wear and an advanced knowledge of crochet techniques to make". I think I have both (the knitting and crochet skills thanks to Odelia.) (And I really want this one to turn out okay and not be a disaster---so I'm buckling under and trying not to be rebellious as I knit.)
(I'll let you know about my progress--but for now I've put it aside as I've got to finish all these dang socks.)
(I always think of Odelia when I knit.....) *


River Glorious said...

Somehow, after reading this post, it doesn't seem to me that you need to see a psychiatrist. And anybody who can spell that on the first try is okay with me. :) I like the pictures you take and the "pictures" you. Thanks for sharing your yarn endeavors.

Deacon Barry said...

I can't knit. I've tried it, but realised it's just not for me. My wife loves knitting, and goes to a knitting group once a fortnight. She's also into tapestries. She did one of Leonardo's The Last Supper, which we've hung above the mantelpiece.
But knitting? Include me out! :)

Anonymous said...

What it the yarn in the too large socks. The neon-glowing mass of blues, rust and greens yarn - it sounds like it is right up my alley.