Fifth: Detractors and Enablers

All of us have detractors in our knitting realms. They come in many forms, and all of us have known at least one.

There’s the significant other who warns you that your yarn spending may be getting out of hand if you want to be able to afford to have a child and send it to college one day (doesn’t he know that good wool is a sound investment?). Maybe you have the sibling who suggests that you could chip in for Dad’s birthday present if you didn’t insist on knitting him new dress socks every year (well, yeah, but he enjoys wearing the socks far more than he likes mowing the lawn with the new mower). If you started knitting at a young age, you likely had the college roommate who suggested that you keep less yarn in the dorm room because it was getting a little crowded (if you look at it as part of the d├ęcor, it doesn’t feel so cramped). It’s generally easy to write these folks off as unenlightened. The brave among us even try to win them over through explaining how fun knitting is or introducing them to the comfort of hand-knitted socks. Even still, the majority of knitting nay-sayers remain so despite our best efforts. In my head I call these folks knitmares.

The lucky knitters have a few knitting enablers to balance the negative juju that the knitmares ooze in our general direction. The luckiest of us have more enablers than detractors, resulting in a life full of Merry Christmases with rightfully appreciated knitted gifts and happy trips to the yarn shop. I am blessed. As I’ve mentioned before, my mother is a serious enabler. She drove all over the city with me the last time I visited her in an attempt to help me find the area’s only yarn shop before it closed. She looks at and coos over everything I make. She even took up knitting briefly when I first got into it. Her encouragement keeps me knitting on the days when I think that I can’t barrel through another inch of knit two, purl two ribbing.

Another fantastic enabler, I’ve found is Jesse Dear (yes, another person who will likely come to be referred to by initials. Did anyone else have a flashback to “John Dear” from Lady & the Tramp when I named him? Was that just me?). Jesse is an enabler to the second power. Not only is his mother a knitter (my first real knitting friend, I might add) who accompanies me to the yarn store and shops, oohs, and ahs as much as I do, but he also seems to appreciate the things I knit (and if he doesn't, he wisely pretends that he does). Much of the time we spend together, when we aren't harassing one another and I'm not kicking his rear at MarioKart, is spent on nice, peaceful pursuits. There's a lot of idle-ish time spent simply enjoying one another's company. We watch tv, talk, lay around on the couch with a movie on, and read together. The great thing about these little ways in which we pass the time is that they grant me lots of guilt-free knitting opportunities. He reads; I knit. We watch tv; I knit. He creates awesome websites on his computer; I knit. The point is, we're both people who often choose to stay in together rather than go out. We're not partying types (What's that Courtney? You're a 23 year old knitter, but you're not a party girl? I'd never have guessed!). Occasionally, though, we both break character and go out for the evening. We have a fondness for art gallery openings, Wednesday night trivia at the local Mellow Mushroom, and snooty beer at the Belgian pub on the square.

Friday night, we decided to go a little crazy and head out for a bite to eat and a movie (hush, you! for us, it was a little crazy). We started at Alon's, a local bakery that now has the distinct honor of being one of only three places in the city where I will order and actually enjoy a sandwich (I don't like sandwiches, generally. Don't ask me why; I don't know.). After a light meal we drove to Atlantic Station to see Ratatouille. I have long been a fan of Disney/Pixar films, but Ratatouille was phenomenal. It was so fun and funny that JD and I were both laughing out loud the entire time. It was a huge improvement over our last movie choice, Spiderman 3, which was so bad that it left both of us unsure of whether it was worth it to ever go see another movie again. In fact, the movie was so good that I didn't knit a single stitch the entire time.

And you know what? I had so much fun that I didn't mind not knitting for an entire evening one bit. Just don't expect me to do it again any time soon.


Fourth: The Balance of Things

SD is a technologically fascinated boy. Since long before I ever met him, he has been something of a gadget hound. He's the type of person who will not only watch the Steve Jobs release of a new Apple product 10 times, but if you fail to watch it with him, he'll essentially recite it to you later. He buys new, state of the art cell phones before they're released in the US. He's the first person to own whatever the gadget of the moment may be. In fact, he often owns it long before anyone knows it's the gadget of the moment.

This, of course, is in stark contrast to my fascinations. I am a self-professed nature baby. I take inexplicable pleasure in sitting outside for hours on end and watching all the creatures go by. Waking up before the sunrise is worthwhile to me, if only because it affords me an opportunity to sit outside and listen to the world before the city wakes up. By virtue of my earth-loving nature, I often feel somewhat out-of-place in the concrete and steel of Atlanta, but I manage. The point is, if it isn't soft or fluffy or natural or born and growing from the earth, it doesn't really interest me for too long, no matter how many bells and whistles it may have.

This difference between SD and me has never been more evident than it is right now. If you ... well, if you breathe then you're likely aware that the iPhone premieres here in the US tomorrow. In fact, when I just IM'd SD to ask him when the release date was he said, "
Tomorrow, 6pm... Say your prayers. It might be the end of the world; the second coming. I might go to confession just in case." The thing is, he's not kidding. He's been worshipping at the altar of this gadget since it was little more than a rumor. I was forced to endure the announcement that Steve Jobs made about it at least four times. I'm relatively sure that the fact that it's debuting tomorrow while SD is overseas and unable to get his hands on it will cause him to spontaneously combust, if only a little. Thankfully he will be nowhere near my stash when it happens.

Two nights ago, while I was being put through torture-by-listing-of-iPhone-features for some undisclosed crime against humanity, I gave SD a little taste of his own medicine. He was telling me the nine ways that the iPhone can toast your bread (or something like that. I've really started to tune it out), and I linked him to some sale yarn that I found. For each mention of the iPhone, he gets another yarn link. I'm excited about this little form of reinforcement. Either he'll learn to stop trying to make me excited about gadgets, or if he doesn't, he'll at least start learning what yarn I like. We haven't gone head to head yet, but I'm pretty sure I have more wool than the iPhone has functions. I suppose we'll soon see, though if you ask me, the most exciting thing about the phone is that it will give SD something to do other than juggling the yarn balls when I drag him into the shop with me.

I learned my lesson about lecturing him on how expensive his little gadget-habit is, though. When I told him that the iPhone seemed an awfully expensive purchase considering that he just bought a new laptop, he pointed out that I very likely have more than $600 worth of yarn in my stash. I am loathe to tell him that I know he's right, and that's just one basket.


Third: The Mysterious Black Hole Project

I like to think of myself as a kind, capable knitter. One who teaches patiently without judging and learns graciously and with humility. I have always accepted that there are things (ok, ok, many things) that I don’t know. Considering my acceptance of how little I know, I tend to believe the things that older, wiser knitters tell me. One thing that I have heard legends of time and again is the dreaded black hole knitting project, but I really thought it to be no more than the excuse of lazy or incompetent knitters. A sort of mythical knitting boogey-man. "How," I thought, "could someone measure their work, have 29 inches of blanket, knit for 2 hours, and measure again to find that they still have 29 inches? She’s either doing something wrong or fudging just how long she’s been working on the thing."

You know, I am learning that there is definitely some kind of fiber-karma floating around out there. If you think hateful and disparaging things about the knitting perils of others, you will soon come to have a project so frustrating that it forces you to think hateful and disparaging thoughts about your own knitting, all the while questioning your skill and sanity.

Case in point, I recently bought Stefanie Japel’s Fitted Knits, and I fell in love instantly with the young, stylish knits that I found in it. I wanted to start with something light that was easy and quick enough that I could start and finish it with time to wear it most of the summer and fall. I chose the Perfect Periwinkle Turtleneck Tube Vest, though I chose to knit it in a lovely, lightweight, soft brown wool that has been making eyes at me from within my stash for months now. I began the sweater several weeks ago and started to knit on it, finding the project to be an absolute dream. Simple, classic, and best of all seamless construction that seemed to just fly off of my needles. By the end of day two I had made it all the way down the neck, divided for the arm shaping, rejoined, and knit several inches of beautiful, bust-hugging bodice. I estimated that at the rate I was going, I'd have a gorgeous sweater in no more than a week, four or five days at best. I considered the fact that I finished an enormous lace baby blanket in just a couple of months (very shortly after I started knitting, actually! how is it that I managed to do that?) to be proof that I had the stamina to pull it off with no trouble.

Then, I entered... the Twilight Zone (you have to say it in Rod Serling's voice in your head - it sounds great that way).

I'm pretty sure that in the knitting twilight zone there are little goblins that crawl onto your needles and release one stitch for each one you complete. There is no other explanation for the fact that over the course of 3 days during which all of my free time went to working on my sweater, I made less than 2 inches worth of progress. Where were my stitches going?

I'm sure it seems like this is the point in my entry where I tell you that I'd made some error and I was knitting twice as many stitches as I needed in each row or something and that the Black Hole Project doesn't exist, but I didn't make any sort of mistake. There's no explanation. No matter how much or how fast I knit, I just couldn't make progress. The BHP is all too real.

So, to fight my way out of the black hole, I did what any other sane knitter would do. I knit a sock.

My first sock.

More on that later.



Okay, I'm a nerd, but I can't contain my excitement that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee herself, the woman whose blog and knitting books I worship and reread until I can nearly quote them, was the first person to ever comment on my humble little knitting blog.

Seriously. I had to put my glee here because there is no one who I can call and tell who will appreciate it. And, you know, that's why I started this thing.


Well, well, well. Stop the presses, kids, it's yet another knitting blog out here in the ether. And don't you know we need just one more of those? I seek to be a part of a knitting community. I want to glean the wisdom of other knitters and have knitting friends who aren't 40 years my senior. I enjoy learning from older knitters, as they usually have far more experience than I can ever imagine having, but sometimes it'd be nice to sit down and knit with some other 23 year olds. I'm tired of admiring shawls and afghans. This blog is the first step in my journey towards being a more connected knitter.

I have no illusions that this wee little journal will chronicle feats of unmatchable knitting greatness (yes, I'm looking at you and your nine lace bridesmaid dresses, Knitting Iris) or ever attract hundreds of commenters on each post (why would I be glaring at the Yarn Harlot? I'm not glaring at the Yarn Harlot). I simply realized recently that somewhere between 40 and 60 percent of the conversations that I try to hold with my friends and family at some point come around to knitting. It's a good portion of what I do. Thus, it's what I talk about. So, rather than jumping up and down trying to make the unenlightened in my world appreciate just how incredibly awesome it is that I recently found 800 yds of cashmere on sale for just $30.00, I'm going to jump up and down and make you, dear reader, appreciate it, because if you're knitters (and I can't imagine you'd be reading this if you weren't) then you already know how exciting that is. Don't you?

This blog is also partially for my mother, who lives far away and still lovingly pays my rent while I spend part of my own earnings on yarn, and I think she deserves to see the fruits of my yarn-loving labor. She always listens patiently when I gush about the things I'm knitting, and she either feigns or actually has quite a lot of enthusiasm for the things I knit. So, I know that if no one else is appreciating my knitting posts, she is. It would be very easy for her to say, "Courtney, stop buying yarn and make your own darn rent payments." This blog is my way of thanking her for not saying that... yet.

Another impetus for this little endeavor is the fact that Sweet Darold (heretofore referred to as SD) is overseas in Austria for the entire summer. As SD often takes up large parts of my time by forcing me to do real social things like a human being, such as going out to new restaurants and going to see movies (can you imagine his gall? it's too dark to knit in a movie theatre, and all that talking coming from the big screen makes me lose my place in the pattern!), his absence has left a giant chunk of otherwise unoccupied time in my day that has now been devoted to knitting, thinking about knitting, reading knitting books, or planning what to knit next. Needless to say, I'm getting a hell of a lot more knit now that he's away. Do you think he'll forgive me if I ask him to extend his trip until I get my Christmas present knitting done? Austria has to be worth it, right?

So, for now, I'm at work, and cursing the fact that I don't have a digital camera handy so that I can show you my first ever sock. I've been knitting for several years now, and I've just never taken the plunge on socks until two days ago. Now I have what I think is a lovely first sock and an unquenchable thirst to knit more. I already have more sock yarn in transit to me. I'm thrilled.

Blog updates may be slightly infrequent until the internet in my apartment gets repaired, but hopefully the desire to talk on this blog a bit more will make me into the proverbial squeaky wheel, prompting my landlords to grease me up with a little internet access. Until then.