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Archive for March, 2011

Feeling Guilty

Dear Cassidy,

Let me start out by saying that I tremendously enjoy your company. Your worsted-weight cables have been a lovely break from the fingering-weight spirals that I’ve been living with for the past few weeks. I truly love the feel of your warmth in my hands on these chilly early Spring nights, but I’m afraid that I’m going to need a little space for a while.

Today I’ve decided to renew my commitment to Rick, and I feel that I must see that relationship through until I’ve finished tying up the loose ends. It would be tempting to try to sneak in a quick row or two with you every now and then, but I know that once I started I would not be able to stop. I know how these things work, and how little self control I have.

Please don’t think I’m leaving you forever. You mean a lot to me, and I think I may even love you. I just need you to be patient, and give me a bit of time to let my relationship with Rick has run its course. Please believe me when I say that it’s not you, it’s me.

So long for now,

Aaron

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Unfaithful

This year I’ve made a commitment to crank out a pair of socks per month for the entire year of 2011, a commitment that I do not take lightly. You  see, I love socks…the magic of the heel turn, the ability to realize really cool design ideas on a small scale, the portability of the knitting…I really am enjoying this adventure.

Rick, the old ball and chain

My socks for the month of March are the “Rick” socks from Cookie A’s Sock Innovation. These fabulous socks are done in a cool spiral of yarn-overs and decreases with a raised rib thing happening along with it. Kinda’ looks like DNA. A really fun knit…when I started it. As I approach 1/4 of the way through sock two I am gripped, for the first time in my sock-knitting life, by second-sock syndrome…and it’s all because of my newfound crush on “Cassidy.”

I found her on a cold winter day at my local yarn store, Butterfly Yarns. I mentioned to Kim, the owner, my desire to knit a sweater for my 12-year-old daughter in Teal yarn and she showed me a couple of display sweaters. I really liked the “Central Park Hoodie” that she showed me, but when I saw Bonne Marie Burns’ “Cassidy” I was smitten. My heart did a somersault as I gazed at her voluptuous cables, her soft waistline shaping, and her slim, ribbed arms. I ordered Cascade 220 Heathers in the lovely Teal that my daughter had requested and proceeded homeward to download the pattern.

Cassidy, the "other woman"

Once the yarn came in I began, but was able to keep my relationship with Cassidy completely platonic. 1×3 ribbing is fairly unexciting, after all, so I could easily knit a row here, half a row there, and still easily go back home to Rick. But then the cabling began. Ahhhh!! You know that feeling you  get when you bite into a particularly decadent ultra-chocolate dessert? Exactly. I knew by the end of the first cable row that Cassidy had indeed become the “other woman.”

I’ve always been a pretty monogamous knitter. I will sometimes have an extra project on the needles, but it is able to stay in the background just for “every once in a while” while I focus on my primary project. I’ve never before had a new project overtake the older one like this, never had a younger, sexier knitting project sweep me off my feet in such a strong way. But now Rick has become suddenly less interesting, despite the pattern changing directions on the second sock (they’re mirror images). The sock has become the old ball and chain and I honestly don’t know how to handle that.

For now I will discipline myself to pick up the sock every day and try to progress through it as quickly as possible, while telling myself “I really do love these socks” over and over again. It’s not untrue…I really do love them, I just also have this sudden infatuation with a cabled sweater.

I feel so dirty.

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What’s Important

Image from Mac Yapper blog

For most of my life I’ve been a busy man. I’ve always been very active and just hated to sit still. My first job came very soon after my 16th birthday and I’ve worked steadily since then. Off-time seems to be filling up fast as well, with community theater involvement, church obligations, and various hobbies. My life is crowded with good, wholesome, productive pursuits.

Lately I’ve taken to spending more time with my children. Coming off of a very busy time of year, I am realizing that we all need this desperately. And not just time…fun time. Too much of my time has often been dedicated to “getting stuff done” and too little has been spent on frivolity. Tickle fights. Going for a bike ride around the neighborhood. Geeking out about idiotic stuff. Cutting loose.

Life should be filled with joy, otherwise why should we even bother? At the end of the day, life isn’t really so much about how much you’ve accomplished, but rather how much you enjoyed the ride. The connections you’ve made. The  fun you’ve had. Does this mean we abandon all productivity? Absolutely not. There are things that we definitely need to accomplish, and draw upon to make our mark in the world, but what’s really important, in my opinion, is that which many people see as giddy irresponsibility.

So when was the last time you  got just plain stupid-silly?

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A scenario and question for the Muggles (non-knitting folk) within my readership:

A person walks up to you on the street and says “I have an amazing deal for you!” He opens the left flap of his trenchcoat (calm your  dirty minds, folks!) to reveal 8 of the hippest-looking pairs of socks you’ve ever seen.

“I am selling these amazing socks for the BARGAIN BASEMENT PRICE of only $18 per pair!”

“Um…What?” you reply in dizzied amazement. “Are you serious? You surely mean $18 for the whole lot, right?”

“No, it’s $18 per pair! These socks normally sell for about $25 per pair but for you I am making them available for ONLY $18 per pair!”

How would you respond to the salesman?

My guess is that most Muggles (and even knitters who don’t do socks) would say the dude is out of his freakin’ mind. Some may even resort to whacking him with a grocery bag full of cat food for the sheer audacity of such an offer. Then you may go to your nearest Target and buy some fairly hip socks at the price of $4.99 for two pairs. Or maybe you’d go for the bland-but-sporty 10-pack for $6.39.

Sock knitters, however, often do exactly as is suggested in the above scenario, but worse…they still have to make the socks. A nice, hand-dyed sock yarn in really cool, funky colors, the kind you’ll find in your specialty yarn stores, often runs a good $18-$27 per 100-gram hank. This is generally enough for one pair of socks. Or maybe, if you’re lucky, one pair of socks and a cell-phone sock or two. Even those who prefer the less expensive options, such as Knit Picks’ Stroll or Patons’ Kroy sock yarns will pay about $8-$10 per pair of socks.

I myself have blown more than my fair share on these fabulous hand-painted yarns, having acquired 3 hanks of the stuff over the course of this weekend and spending more than seems sane to admit. Is the yarn fabulous? Absolutely. Is it incredibly soft on my feet? You have no idea. Is it durable? Often, but not always. Admittedly the sturdier hand-knit socks I have are those of the cheaper Knit Picks variety (but hey, I know how to darn).

So why do we do this? What is it about socks that keeps us coming back? Why do we spend an ungodly amount on yarn for a project that’s going to get buried in a shoe and covered up by a trouser leg? Possibly insanity. We sock knitters may be just a bit out of step with the real world, but we also know that there’s nothing quite like the feel of a perfectly-fitted hand-knit pair of socks. It’s special to have even such basic garments as socks custom-made. Socks are also a great small-scale palette for our creative ideas and cool stitch patterns. We can do really neat stuff without the scale of a great big sweater.

One person I spoke with this weekend described socks as her “little secret,” stating that she can wear something totally outlandish and nobody would notice. I, for one, will proudly show off my socks to any captive audience. My middle school students often check to see if I’m wearing hand-knits on any given day, and love to keep up with my knitting career. I say if you’ve got fabulous socks, show them off.

Yes, I’m a bit different. A bit odd. A bit weird. So what? I am proud to be able to cover my feet in warm, wooly wondrousness in really cool colorways and stitch patterns, especially on cold New England days. I just need to learn to stay within a more reasonable yarn budget. And maybe buy some Birkenstocks to go with the socks so I can be branded a complete dork.

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A Random Return

The school musical has been over for a week now and I have just about recovered enough to make a full return to the blogiverse. I do love blogging, and am glad to have some time to do so now, but let’s take it slowly and randomly.

1. I think I’m in love with Cascade 220 Heathers in teal.

2. So is my daughter. Good thing, since she is getting a sweater in this yarn.

3. She’d damn well better wear it, unlike the Bex gauntlets I spent my entire summer on so that she could only wear them 4 times.

4. Canadians are cool. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a Canadian that I didn’t like.

5. So are Brits. I met two this weekend and both of them were quite lovely.

6. I also love White Russians, but I guess they’re not really in the same category are they?

7. What on earth are crumpets? And steak-and-kidney pie? And Trifle? Hope the Brits read this and are able to answer my questions.

8. Sock-knitting is an expensive addiction.

9. Chick Flicks are perfect knitting movies because they’re so predictable that you can easily catch all the major plot points while working complex cables, but still look up occasionally to catch the eye candy that is Gwyneth Paltrow or Jennifer Lopez.

10. There’s a dude in tonight’s Chick Flick, Bounce, who’s wearing an amazing sweater that I can’t keep my eyes off of. Almost makes Ben Affleck tolerable. It’s this incredible Aran-looking thing. Oh, crap…the dude just died. Should’ve been Affleck’s character.

11. I love Spring.It’s really fun to watch the snow fall in December but equally enjoyable to watch it melt in March.

12. Except now I have the unhappy task of cleaning up all of the errant dog crap that got covered up by snow before I got a chance to pick it up this winter.

13. I should’ve gotten a cat.

14. Dogs bark at everything. And shed like crazy. Especially mine.

15. I should spin the dog hair that has overrun my apartment and make a sweater out of it, except I am a bit allergic and wearing such a sweater would render me a snotty, itchy, disgusting mess.

I hope you all have a fabulously enjoyable week. Happy thoughts, soft yarn, and no frogs.

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