I call the knitting I carry around with me my “travel knitting,” but these socks have really been places.
I am a product of my time and have found myself falling for the minimalist zeitgeist. For me this has manifested more in feeling intense guilt over owning the things I have and less in purging or consuming those things. I know I’ve gone on and on about the moth(s) and how assessing, freezing, baking, sorting, and handling of all my yarny things has made me think again about what I’m doing with them and why I have them. But wait, here’s more blathering on the subject!
I have a box of handspun yarn that’s too precious to knit with. It’s a big box. And there’s a basket, too, if I’m being honest, and it’s a big basket. I’m not a good spinner, I don’t really know what I’m doing, but it’s mine and I made it and it’s gorgeous. It’s also inconsistent and yardage is guesswork and most of it is variegated which complicates pattern selection and what if I didn’t use every last bit of it? What if I made a thing that turned out not so precious as my yarn had been? What if I make a thing and *gasp* don’t use it?
Well… f*ck it. I took this beautiful, unlabeled ball of really astonishingly soft handspun and improvised a cowl. It was maybe 200 yards, maybe less, of approximately aran-weight yarn. I cast on with only an idea of a plan, something big enough without being too big, with movement but to so much that it would read as patterned, and this is what came off the needles:
The pattern, briefly:
Gauge = 15 across & 22 high over 4″. I used US #9 needles.
- CO 100; or, make it smaller or bigger by casting on fewer or more in multiples of 10
- Purl 1 row
- Knit 1 row
- Purl 1 row
- Stitch pattern (repeat until it’s long enough or until you think you’ll run out of yarn):
- Knit 4 rows
- (C4B, k6), repeat to end of row
- Knit 4 rows
- (K4, C6B), repeat to end of row
- Knit 3 rows
- Purl 1 row
- Knit 1 row
- Bind off purl-wise (I used the stretchy bind off).
That’s all there is to it! Easy-peasy.
There’s nothing like a moth scare to make you reassess all the knitted things you have piling up in the corner. I like to make things! But I don’t necessarily like to wear the things I make, which is how I ended up with a stack of shawls. Or I make more of a thing than is personally useful, which is how I ended up with a lot of socks. Or something turns out not as I had hoped, which is how I ended up with an otherwise perfectly fine baby sweater that looks like Halloween vomited.
I also found a couple dishtowels I made probably 10 years ago, give or take. All they needed were a couple ends woven in and buttons. I think I never bothered because they’re so boring and sort of homely. The Sugar ‘n Cream is surely unappetizing to moths and therefore safe, but why not finish and use the things? Better that than storing it.
Pattern: Mitered Hanging Towel
Yarn: Sugar ‘n Cream Cotton
It’s a charming pattern worked up in uncharming colorways that I had on hand for whatever misguided purpose. Ah, well, no matter, they’ll be stained before the week’s out and hanging towels are so handy for little hands.
This is what I had saved as a draft in a post titled “Full Circle” in which I had intended to triumphantly reveal my finished Leaves of Grass.
This story finishes where it began, at Knitorious in St. Louis, where I procured this project’s first 5 skeins (yes, that was the listed yarn requirement) and its final 8th skein (yes, that was the actual yarn required).
Isn’t it sweet how I thought I was done with it? Well, it wasn’t done with me. This thing is cursed, I tell you, cursed.
If I read auspices I may have gotten a clue from this shawl’s beginnings. This was a souvenir purchase while on a family vacation during which the car broke down not once but twice in two days in completely different ways and the second time so spectacularly that we rented a car and continued on because our choices were either do that and get where we were going or hang out in a suburban Indiana Holiday Inn until the car was either fixed or declared beyond repair in 4 or 7 days and go home.
Then the yarn gobbling.
Then the moth(s). Hubs tells me there was only one moth. Like he used to tell me there was only one mouse in our infested apartment building. I was just catching the same one over and over. I’ve never been able to figure out whether he’s optimistic or in denial.
Then… then… then I burned it up in the oven practicing due potential-moth-egg-and-larva-killing-diligence.
I’d been baking or freezing all my yarn and finished projects since I spotted the moth without incident and I just can’t explain what happened here.
The last few weeks I’ve been swimming against the current. I think if I just stick with a thing it’ll turn out, but some things the harder you try the worse it seems to get. Right not this feels like a lot of wasted money and wasted effort and that stings. I’m down, but I’m not out. I’m stubborn and resourceful and I’m going to figure something out. But I’m going to wait until my wounded pride begins to heal and I feel the current change or I learn how to swim in it, whichever comes first.
Good news is I’m excellent at treading water.
Did you ever have one of those days? Days when you pin out your beleaguered lace shawl and discover 6 holes in it that you can’t explain? Days when you soak and press your finished cross-stitch and your iron spits gunk all over it? Days when you block out the sleeve to your new sweater and it in no way resembles the dimensions of your gauge swatch? Days when you sit down to do some sewing to take your mind off the afternoon’s setbacks and a moth flits into view?
Some days are like that.
I carry socks everywhere, the idea being that if I have them with me I’ll be able to whip them out and work on them in found moments when I’m out of the house. No matter that those found moments are so few and far between that it takes me 3.5 months to finish a pair of socks I could have made in a week back when I commuted by subway.
They were ostensibly socks for Hubs for Christmas, but they didn’t make it and I wasn’t really trying. I sourced a finished pair from my box ‘o finished socks for the holiday and threw these into the same for next year.
Hubs wears the socks I make him, even the traffic cone orange ones. But only on weekends, he informs me.
Those socks, the glaringly bright orange ones, our neighbor was laughing at them one day when Hubs was wearing them with shorts. “I made those socks!” I proclaimed. It felt silly and intimate and very us.
After putting Leaves of Grass in time out I picked up a swatch I’d made last fall for a sweater I just can’t make a decision on which got me to looking for my size 8 needle. I found it in my knitting basket along with a partially completed Lottie cardigan that was holding it hostage. I subscribe to the philosophy that if you’re going to make something for a new baby it’s best, if possible and reasonable, to also give a gift to the older sibling(s). I’d started this project more than a year ago as a big-sister companion gift for a new-baby sweater and left this, the larger, to languish when I decided two handknit gifts was possible but not altogether reasonable. OK, then, I thought. I guess I’ll go ahead and finish that up.
And I did! The knitting went along fine without incident, but… there always seems to be a but. Things are just not going my way lately in a death-by-a-thousand cuts sort of way. When I soaked this little sweater to wet block it it grew to gigantic proportions. With dismay I remembered that this had happened before with this pattern and Cascade 220. I threw it into the dryer which restored it to its original child-sized proportions, but fuzzed it up. It emerged looking hard worn without ever having been worn at all.
Pattern: Lottie Cardigan
Yarn: Cascade 200 Superwash
Not without it charm, but not gift-worthy. We don’t need another sweater that my child will deny and ignore, yet into her sweater drawer it goes to be denied and ignored. If it doesn’t have Minnie Mouse on it it doesn’t rate. Wait, do they make Minnie Mouse buttons? Of course they do! Silly me. But will that be enough? Worth a shot.