News from the CDC:

The CDC is today warning that a knitter in Toronto is showing advanced signs of a disease which may be a breakout of SMS or Second Mitten Syndrome. As you know, there are three forms of SMS.
Viral: Viral SMS is common among knitters and most knitters will have contracted it several times during a knitting lifetime. The mildest form of the disease, VSMS is mostly uncomfortable. Having Viral SMS may confer some immunity, since most knitters do go on to knit second mittens.
Symptoms of Viral SMS include finding the second mitten considerably less charming, and perhaps referring to it using adjectives like “fiddley” or “annoying”. (Assuming that she/he used “charming” and “intriguing” to describe the first one)
The knitter may consider beginning other projects, but returns to the mitten out of a sense of duty and a desire to have a pair.
Treatment: Symptomatic. Occasionally, starting another project helps, although it is generally not recommended. Other knitters may support recovery by refusing to go along with the knitters wish that the first mitten be overlooked.
Prognosis: Excellent, although some knitters take many months to recover and knit the second mitten.
Bacterial: Bacterial SMS is more serious. We suspect that it may be spread by bacteria living on the wool the mittens are knit with. It too is widespread, and has resulted in many single mittens left scattered across the world. The bacteria responsible seems impervious to heat or cold, since mitten knitters in all climates are affected.
Symptoms: The presence of advanced adjectives such as “stupid” or “Dumbass” when referring to the first mitten. Repeatedly finding oneself in front of the stash looking for another project, as if drawn there…helplessly yet inexplicably thinking about starting different mittens. (Note: this is an important point for the differential diagnosis. Bacterial SMS sufferers look for any old project to replace the second mitten, while VSMS victims remain fixated on mitten projects)
Prognosis: Fair. The mitten knitter may recover and a pair of mittens is still a possible goal.
Malignant SMS: This variant of the disease is terminal. The second mitten will not survive, and in fact, may never be cast on. There is no treatment for this form of SMS and it leaves a vicious swath of single mittens in it’s path. In this most heinous form of SMS, the mitten knitter is forced to endure the most painful of outcomes. She/he cannot cast on the second mitten, yet cannot admit this and is forced to keep the projects, unfinished for many, many years.
Symptoms: The knitter no longer uses adjectives to refer to the second mitten, and may instead appear dazzled and say “What mitten?”, even as they are surrounded by piles of single mittens.
Treatment: None. The knitter should be supported in her delusions to avoid having SMS spread to other areas of her knitting.
Prognosis: Poor. Short of getting Captain Hook’s address, there is no happy ending. Damage may be minimized by keeping the knitter from starting up with sock knitting.
Our Toronto knitter, while the final verdict is not in, appears to be suffering from the Bacterial form of the disease, which in this case would seem to have been transmitted by a simple knitting book, sent to her by our Lady Kern of the comments.
This gift is tempting the poor knitter to thrust the Latvian Mittens into a crack in the chesterfield and cast on something which will be even more beautiful.
Despite the horror of contracting this disease, the Toronto knitter appears incredibly grateful.

37 thoughts on “News from the CDC:

  1. LMAO – I’d send you a get well card if I weren’t laughing ’til tears poured down my face!

  2. Hee! I think I have the sock equivalent of Bacterial SMS, at least regards the !@#$%! lacework socks that are currently being actively ignored in the hopes of forgetting them.
    Be strong! Finish the mitten! 🙂

  3. I was going to send you the Gottfridsson book too when I sent Latvian Mittens but I couldn’t (and still can’t) find it. Glad someone came through for you! Your mittens do look wonderful, no matter the pain they are causing you.
    ** since when was l_ovely (minus the “_”) “questionable content”!? I had to change it to wonderful because it wouldn’t post this comment the way it was. Pray, do tell how I’ve gone this long without anyone raising eyebrows in horror at my terrible and “questionable” language. **

  4. Well, since mittens like socks in my household tend to be worn mismatched, I have allowed myself the pleasure of indulging the bratlings in this endeavor. Thus, I don’t worry overmuch about those useless second socks or mittens. Besides, all the better to annoy my mother with!

  5. Ah but you havew finished the fiddley braids and it is just getting the pointy part to match up with the pointy pattern and you have figured that out — just perservere!!!!

  6. Harlot you are too funny! I check in everyday, laugh hysterically and can’t wait for the next edition. Finish the fabulous mittens 🙂

  7. Not to fear: In the US, some Malignant SMS patients have been known to go into remission, for short periods of time, during which second mittens from as long ago as TEN YEARS have been known to be completed. Electro-shock therapy has been shown to greatly reduce the number of FIRST mittens knit, thereby lowering the chance for any form of SMS to occur. Remember, always wash your hands before and after touching any mitten book.
    This has been a public service message.
    The more you know…

  8. OOOps! I would have thought that the customs would have scanned the package for BSMS before releasing it on an innocent party. Ah well. Enjoy the knitting. Maybe you could just do one different mitten, then finish the current one, then finish the final mitten of the second pair? I’ve heard of people doing this to avoid SSS.

  9. I KNEW IT! Do studies indicate whether SMS & SSS are caused by the same pathogens? I’ll bet they’re mutations of the same pathogens. Either way, my recommendations would be to cast on for a new project & check back on second mitten in the morning.

  10. The prophylactic approach is still best, to wit: SM/SP, Simultaneous Mitten/Sock Production. All exposed knitters must be strongly urged to knit a cuff and a cuff, a hand and a hand, a thumb and a thumb (for sock, substitute cuff/heel/toe.) Not only are the chances of forestalling SMS greatly enhanced, any fudging is simultaneous and symmetrical, enhancing the illusion of intent. (The consequent stimulation to the knitting needle industry, which needs to produce two identical sets of needles for each knitter, is an inadvertant but positive side effect.)
    Or, as Mark Twain said, it’s easier to stay out than get out.

  11. ::gasp::
    you mean we’re supposed to knit the second mitten right after the first?
    good long with your amazing mittens, though!

  12. Since I’ve been reading your blog you have made me laugh so much it hurts. You do amazing work. Maybe one day I’ll find the instructions to work that kind of braid.

    “Symptoms: The presence of advanced adjectives such as “stupid” or “Dumbass” when referring to the first mitten.”

  14. I knew I was suffering from something but couldn’t pinpoint it. I am halfway done with a second sock, which I hate, and now all I want to do is drop it and make mittens. Well, at least one, anyway.

  15. Oh will you stop your whining already and get it finished! The worst part is over after all. I promise not to mock or belittle if you do. You had us so impressed and inspired! You are THE Yarn Harlet. Do NOT let your followers or your hands down!! Your hands WILL mock and belittle you once the temps drop if they don’t have those beautiful Latvian mittens to cuddle into!! Do NOT let this become a repeat of the “Sweater That Shall Not be Named” incident! Remember the NOTE?? Are you willing to live through that again? I thought not. So pick up that mitten. You know what you must do…

  16. Consider this a dope slap, you funny little harlot-girl.
    Not finishing the other mitten immediately (it will, like, take you a whole day…woo-f’n-hoo) is just Super Dumbass. Those are really nice mittens.
    Finish them.
    Or else.

  17. You’ve got us all riled up that you might not have a finished pair of mittens to show us tomorrow, but it’s 3 and a half hours after you posted and I’m guessing you already have them done by now, teasing harlot. And tomorrow no doubt you’ll have a new one started to show as well.
    If not, and the illness is still having its way with you, get some rest and drink some whiskey. I contracted malignant SSS years ago, leaving several single socks to eventually get THROWN OUT. Guilty conscience couldn’t handle it. I’m afraid to jump on your mitten bandwagon in case I bring on a second bout; I’m assuming these diseases are related. Might they also be related to the allergy to seaming that so many of us are afflicted by, which finds us searching the stash for something, anything to start, to avoid seaming up the finished stuff?

  18. Actually, my personal treatment is to reward myself for perservering with the second mitten (or sock) by starting that tempting next project. Do 5 rows on that dreaded second mitten and you’re free for the rest of the day to treat yourself to something new and exciting. Or sometimes, more severe therapy is called for, such as when I get to the thumbhole, I can cast on this other project and do the cuff. Rather like hiking with little children, one small step at a time. Your mitten is gorgeous and your hands will thank you when they’re finished.

  19. Let’s start the SMS support group. Our motto-“I’ll knit your second mitten if you’ll knit mine.” Finally knitters and their family and friends everywhere will have warm hands all winter long. Projects long forgotten will have a new life, and the relationships built on the SMS buddy system will be long lasting. In recovery, SMSers will have the opportunity to knit many mittens that they may have never attempted, or would have liked to knit, but didn’t necessarily want to own. Time for someone to create a logo. I think it should have two mittens, only they have to be different. I nominate Harlot as president!

  20. Teresa- you beat me to the punch! The SMS support group. Coming to a SnB (or mailbox!) near you. Hee hee!
    Harlot, you must finish that mitt (or I will)! Your frostbitten hands will never forgive you if you don’t… of course, there are the thrums… NO! Banish the thought! Finish the Latvian mitt!
    The’re looking great. Try to enjoy the rest!

  21. Yah, geesh, Stephanie, I’m with Claudia on this one (even though she and I don’t see eye to eye on the whole poncho thing, she can’t be all bad?). Hells bells, woman, you can finish that second mitten (you probably already have by the time I’m getting around to writing this) while you’re in having your Daily Constitutional. Then, I beg you, I plead with you — please have a look at the bag I just completed and notice how incredibly well they coordinate in color — and send those Latvian babies to me! (shameless begging has never gotten me anywhere before, but I thought I would just give it the old College Try)

  22. To think that EZ suggested making three mittens to a set- so that there were two to use and one to lose. Her one error. There is also a psychiatric form of SMS/SSS. This form causes the knitter to knit the second mitten out of the same yarn in a different pattern, and then, by making light hearted references to fraternal twins, and blended families, draw others into the delusion that the two different mittens are actually a pair.

  23. Okay, Stephanie, you have to persevere here. I mean, I know you’re color resolution isn’t the best on some of the pictures, but don’t the Latvian Mitten-and-a-half go really nicely with Poncho #1, which looked AMAZING with those pants?
    You’ll have a gorgeous co-ordinate ensemble for the fall and IT WILL LOOK FANTASTIC. It will also probably look deliberate.
    Think about it- Poncho, pointy tip bit. Mittens, pointy tip bit. Lovely earth tones. It’s like a sign. You shouldn’t give up!
    Back to work on my dumbass K2P2 scarf. Hurk.

  24. You know, I think Teresa might be onto something there. I wonder if the support group would be willing to deal with the sewing up projects? Having slept on it, I renew my suggestion for you to finish that mitten! Especially once I poked my head out the door, a glace at my car told me that it’s mitten weather! Yes, the car is covered in about 5mm of FROST!! My husband had a nice fire (first of the season) going in the furnace by the time I reached for my first coffee–yup, I love that man!

  25. This reminds me of what my mother used to say about knitting pairs of things – “The problem with knitting one mitten (sock, sleeve, whatever) is that you have to then knit the other one. If you could only knit the other one first. . .”

  26. what a delightful read!!! had me laughing out loud (my cat thinks im nuts …again) i am a new knitter and making mittens and this really fit my thoughts!!!!! thank you for sharing this!!!!!!

  27. That mitten is gorgeous! And you are SO Right about the pointy pattern. Perfection. It wouldn’t have worked any other way.
    You just have to finish the second mitten. A single is lovely, a pair would be exquisite.

  28. Stephanie, I stumbled across your blog about 2 hours ago and now have a headache from laughing so much. I just bid on some Colinette yarn on ebay because I couldn’t resist the color, and thought it would make a nice poncho (probably won’t have enough yarn – I will make something for granddaughter I’m sure) so I looked around for a poncho pattern and I found you and I am glad I did.
    Now, about that SMS? I knit a sweet little tam about 15 years ago, and had tons of this wonderful mohair left over so decided that mittens would be good. I love knitting mittens, have successfullt completed many pairs and will try to do a Latvian pair someday, but for some reason I finished one of these beautiful soft mohair mittens, then did the cuff on the second, and quit. It’s still in my basket, with needles in place, yarn neatly wound, just waiting for completion. I think 15 years is too long. I don;t think I can finish it. I gave the tam to abovementioned granddaughter last Christmas, with a note about the 1-1/2 mittens available. She commented that the next time she meets someone with 1-1/2 hands she will pass my number along.
    Do you think there is hope? I doubt it myself.
    Anyhow, great to meet you.

  29. I’ve been thinking a lot about SMS. Once upon a time I knit my mother a mitten. A single mitten. I used some scruffy, wonderful wool, gray for the background and green for the Norwegian-ish pattern. They were 2-needle mittens and I’d already made many happy pairs.
    But when I finished that first mitten, something in me snapped. I never knit the second mitten. In fact, for 16 years, I didn’t knit anything at all.
    The moral: beware SMS!!!

  30. You ARE Queen of the World.
    I defer to your HTML knowledge. (my blog is wonky, ESPECIALLY if you look at it via old Netscape.)
    I also CONGRATULATE you on having sassy, SMILING daughter. I am a trained professional, and trust me, a sassy smiler is better than a sneaky pout-girl any day.
    I have not worked my way into Estonian/Latvian or even Fair Isled knitting. I’m just trying to get my Quest scarf done!
    I, too, believe in a self-balancing universe.

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