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Posts Tagged ‘knitting’

Appreciation

I’ve given a lot of thought in my 5 years as a knitter to the hardly insignificant issue of appreciation. As a knitter it is wonderful to have an appreciative “giftee” around who truly loves receiving knitted loveliness from you. We all have them, and they are often easy to find. However, we also all have people in our lives who put on a badly faked smile while enduring the token try-on and say “wow…this is just what I have always wanted,” while really thinking, “Really? Doesn’t he know that you can buy socks for 2 bucks at Wal-Mart?”

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My girlfriend Michelle is a knitter’s dream. She proudly wears and shows off anything that I make for her. She loves that her boyfriend knits cool stuff for her, and that in turn makes me incredibly happy. In this pic she’s wearing a lace scarf that I knit her over the summer and a pair of cabled gloves I designed for her that include conductive thread so that she can use her iPhone without getting her fingers cold. She totally geeked out over both gifts, and that fuels my knitting addiction in joyous ways.

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My younger daughter is another one who has shown her appreciation time and time again. Here she’s sporting her Christmas gauntlets that she loves dearly and wears often. She also has a sweater that she rarely is seen without…an item I had knit for her rapidly-growing big sister who outgrew it before it was finished.

I have had some knitting projects go unused by the people for whom they were knit. I still occasionally think about the co-worker who emailed the staff enough pictures to make a grandmother want to vomit, and yet I never once saw the baby blanket that I’d spent 2 months knitting for said baby. Trust me, I was looking. A lot. At every picture she sent.

Now I do understand that hand-knitted garments aren’t for everyone (though in my biased opinion they should be). I don’t stop knitting for “newbies” out of fear that they will never wear the item that I invested my time and energy in. Not all knitwear will be hits, but those that are, like the socks I knit for my friend Georgia, will make it all worthwhile. 2 months later, she’s still raving about those socks.

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Yesterday was a wonderful gift. The school I teach in had a day off for snow, while my offspring had to go to school. This means I had a day free and clear, with nothing already scheduled and nobody to take care of but me. This is one of the few perks of teaching an hour northwest of where I live…this isn’t the first time such wonderment has occurred.

Here’s my snow day to-do list:

1. Take a hot, relaxing bath. CHECK!

2. Watch this week’s episode of my grandest addiction, Downton Abbey. CHECK! I have such a crush on Lady Mary.

3. Shampoo the living room carpet, whose nastiness was revealed to me two weeks ago by significantly lighter spots left behind after spot-cleaning some dog yack. CHECK! Even moved the recliner and shampooed under it.

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4. Super glue the little glass cat my daughter’s friend asked her to repair. CHECK!

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5. Bake yummy deliciousness that completely counteracts my running. CHECK!

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6. complete the base layer of the awesome Bearded Viking Helmet I’m knitting. CHECK!

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Sometimes you need a day to just get shit done. For me, yesterday was that day.

 

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Miserablishness

Last week there was a professional development day for teachers in my district. This means kids got a day off and teachers didn’t. I usually look at professional days with considerably less sense of “ugh” than many teachers because I view them as good knitting days. Having finished a sock last night I vowed to make some serious headway on sock #2 while meeting with all of the other visual and performing arts teachers in my district to discuss assessment, evaluation, and other such fun and exciting topics.

After greeting some colleagues the meeting was about to start so I reflexively reached for my knitting bag to pull out the yarn I’d made sure to place in there earlier this morning. My heart sank with the sudden realization that I had left my needles at home!! Nooooooo!! When I finished sock #1 I had left the needles sitting on my end table.

The day’s plans were shot. The one thing I have to keep my sanity and focus during long meetings was gone. I spent some time on my phone looking for yarn stores close by, thinking maybe I could go out and buy some needles during lunch, but the closest one was at least 15 minutes away, and we had a stupid working lunch. I had to do something!  My old pre-knitting pastime of  doodling took over.

To say that I was miserable that day is an understatement. I was experiencing terribly intense miserablishness. I’ve gotten so used to relying on my beloved yarn and needles during a meeting, but this time I couldn’t. I had just been talking to my daughter that morning about my hope of knitting half a sock during the day’s meetings, and it ended up being a day wasted.

Since that fateful day I have now gotten to the heel flap of the sock, which I can’t show pics of yet in case the friend I’m giving it to reads this blog. I have a day off today and hopefully some time this week that I can finish it and move on to another of the bajillion projects I have in the queue.

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Today could have been long and arduous, but was instead a hidden gem.

No, I didn’t do this:

I would have loved to, but my day was a more peaceful one.

It stared with a 6:51 train (we call that TDE: Too Damn Early) into the big, badass city of Boston, and a green-line train to the Family and Probate Court in Cambridge for my divorce hearing. Now, before you get the sad eyes like somebody just died (I’ve seen quite enough of those, thank you!) you must know that we haven’t lived together for almost two years, and for both of us the marriage was over a long time ago. This mainly signaled the end of the mountainous mass of paperwork. We showed up well before the prescribed time of 8:30 and waited for things to get going. When showing up for divorce court, it’s important to take the whole day off, as you don’t know if you’ll be first 3rd, or 15th with a major battle in front of you. For us it was quick, easy, painless, and I was out of there before 10:00.

Hmmm…free day in Boston. What to do with such a gift? Well, here’s what I did:

I enjoyed a lunch of some spicy Thai fast food chicken thingy on the Boston Common while watching the people walk by.

I heard a dude in the Public Garden playing a hurdy-gurdy. Coolest instrument ever!

I browsed some of the insanely expensive shops on Newbury Street and thought, “Shit, even if I had a lot of money, I don’t think I’d pay $450 for that jacket!”

I sat at a table in front of Ben and Jerry’s, knitting a luscious alpaca cabled scarf and enjoying some incredible ice cream.

I was mobbed by a small group of senior citizens at Oak Grove station asking me questions about the aforementioned scarf project. An old lady…that’s right, an OLD LADY was amazed by my complex patterning (she’d have peed herself if she’d seen these!). Yes, my friends, I have arrived!

I saw a real live midget on the bus and…I PROMISE I’m not even joking…laughed my ass off internally as I watched him get off the bus at the Short Street stop in Melrose. I swear I’m not making this up!!!

Having come home earlier than normal, I spent some good daddy time laughing and doing stuff with my younger daughter while the other one was at a friend’s house.

It could have been a hard day. It could’ve totally sucked. Many people’s divorce court days are, I’m sure, quite awful. For me it was simply a chance to finish a process and enjoy a gorgeous autumn day.

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UGH!!!

A few days ago I finished the final hexagon on my crazyass hexagon socks. I stood up, did a little dance, and then proceeded to start…the…toe?

Oh, no.

What the crap?

In my hurry to get the final row of hexagons done, I had not paid close enough attention to which end of the sock I had done that last row on. Four hexagons that were supposed to be working toward the toe. Four hexagons that were, instead, on the cuff.

It looked like a knee sock for an eight-year-old.

I wish that it had been as simple as surgically removing the hexagons and just stitching them onto the other end, but then again things can never really be that simple, can they? I had to rip out all four hexagons individually and restart that row from scratch.

After a couple of days’ break from the accursed thing, I am happy to report that I have gotten past the frustration (somewhat), have completed the final four hexagons ON  THE CORRECT END OF THE SOCK and am working on picking up the toe stitches.

I am so ready to move on….

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You don’t have to go far in the knitiverse to hear about “second-sock syndrome,” that phenomenon of great disappointment when, just after you’ve proudly finished an amazing sock, you realize that you have to do it all over again so that you’ll have a pair. I’ve heard knitters gripe about this, or even give up on it altogether…I remember Camden, Maine’s Unique One yarn shop being full of ladies with mismatched hand-knit socks because they just decided to alleviate second-sock syndrome altogether.

Sock 1...ain't it pretty?

I tend to treat the second sock a little differently. Take the beloved Hexagon socks, for example. It took me a little over a month to finish the first sock. Granted, I took on a couple of other small projects in the middle (a pair of mittens and some worsted-weight house-socks) but that was largely because I just wanted a break. Well, I finished the first sock recently and I couldn’t be happier. It looks cool, feels great on the foot, and is destined to be the talk of my elementary school once I start wearing the pair to the music classes I teach.

Sock 2 just over a week in.

So how did I celebrate? That’s right, by immediately casting on sock #2. Not only did I begin the second sock, but I attacked it with a vengeance. My goal has been to knit at least 2 hexagons per day, but some days I got 3 or 4 done. I spent that month on the first one, but after one week on the second sock I had finished the heel and was plunging into the foot portion. You see, once I get the first sock done and see how amazingly cool it is, I want to wear it. But I don’t do mismatched socks. Besides, even mismatch aficionados would’ve found it hard to find something to wear with this one.

So I’m tearing through the second sock with hopes of finishing it this week, even after a very busy weekend that included very little time to knit.

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I love Knitpicks, and more specifically, I love my Knitpicks Zephyr acrylic interchangeable knitting needles. At least I love them most of the time.

Christmas of 2010 my mom gave me a Visa gift card, with which I bought a set of these needles. My dear friend Joanne had recommended them, saying she had a pair and LOVED them! I have to agree that they’re fabulous. Fast forward 6 months to the end of that school year and I received another set as a “thank-you-for-teaching-my-daughter-for-3-years” gift from, of course, Joanne. She knew I already had some, but told me it’s important to have spares.

Boy was she right…

Yes, that's the broken needle tip sticking out of that sock.

Two Wednesdays ago I went to my regular knitting group, pulled out the red worsted-weight house-socks I was knitting on the size 4 Zephyrs when “SNAP!” one of the needle tips broke. I didn’t even finish the first stitch. “It’s okay,” I told my friends, “I have a spare set at home.” Only slightly disheartened, I pulled out my crazy-ass hexagon socks and worked on them for a while. After I got home I switched out the tips and was good to go.

This past Wednesday, having finished the red house-socks, I pulled out a pair of mittens I was knitting, also on the size 4 Zephyrs when, you guessed it, “SNAP!” Another needle tip bit the dust a quarter of the way through a row. A bit more disheartened this time, I proceeded to pull out the crazy-ass hexagon socks again, knowing that I had another needle tip left at home. But it was only one more. The last one.

One of my knitting group friends suggested that I call Knitpicks, stating that their customer service is fabulous. She’d had really positive experiences with them before and felt certain that they’d help me out. I am glad I heeded her advice. The customer service person I spoke to was extremely helpful. After checking my account and confirming that yes, I had indeed ordered a set of these needles in the past, she told me they’d ship out another set of size 4 tips. Though she didn’t explicitly say it, I guessed from her tone of voice that this is a known problem. As much as I love these needles, I just don’t think the acrylic tips are quite strong enough in a size 4…they’re too thin.

Thank you, Knitpicks, for helping out this very loyal customer. I appreciate your attentiveness and courtesy. I do believe, however, that it’s time to get a set of size 4 nickel-plated tips.

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