I have survived. I spent yesterday very quietly, trying to spread goodwill and peace while not attracting any sort of planetary attention. I suspect that all of this is the fault of dissing February. You can’t expect to come out hard hating on a whole month and expect that it won’t exact a little balance. I beg Februarys forgiveness, display my wounded finger as penance and respectfully point out to the planet that if the sun shone maybe just one freaking day in this forsaken wasteland of a month that maybe people (read: me) wouldn’t be so biased. But I digress.

I discovered yesterday that I cannot spin with a squashed finger. It’s the pointer finger on my left hand that I so moronically crippled in the door, and that’s my fibre/drafting hand. Normally I hold back the twist with my right hand, and draft in sort of a modified long draw with my left, using my pointer, middle finger and thumb to form the drafting triangle. I can neither hold the fibre with my mutilated finger, nor use it to pinch back the twist (which I also tried.)

Since I carry one colour in each hand for two colour knitting, one strategically draped over my throbbing, pulverized left pointer finger, that was right out. (My apologies to the MSF mittaines, who only need a half a thumb.)


Round about now I was starting to feel a little bit sorry for myself, though I kept it quiet. There’s only so much sympathy you can expect for injuring yourself in a moment of less emotional grace than we would really hope for in a grown woman. I gave the flower basket shawl a go.

I have good news and then bad news and then good news again, so don’t let the sad part in the middle get to you, because things pick up again right after. It turns out that I can knit single colour straight needle stuff. (Who knew you could knit for 30 years without discovering that your left hand pointer finger does SQUAT? The same cannot be said of DPN’s or circulars where I apparently use that finger in a critical way.) I discover this while I was knitting The Flower basket shawl. That’s the first good news, since I don’t know what I was going to take up if I couldn’t knit for two days in a row. Maybe smack.

The bad news is that I knit on the shawl for a while then made the decision to rip back and go up a needle size and ripped out the whole thing. All of it. Every single stitch. This, oddly…was a really good feeling. I got to thinking that there really aren’t many times in your life when you can completely undo a mistake.

Times when there are no consequences, no record, no history, no talk. Nothing. You make a mistake and you can completely erase it and try again. Very comforting really, and not at all like losing your temper and slamming your finger in a door, where the error of your ways just sits there throbbing at you.

I went up to a 5.5mm needle (noted here so that when I make the next one there is a snowflakes chance in H-E double hockey sticks that I will be able to get it right.) The good news is that I finished the thing anyway.


The flower basket shawl is seen here looking like mountainous crap awaiting a decent blocking, which I am certain will be completely transformative. I believe, though it may really be too soon to tell that I am obsessed with this pattern. Obsessed. The idea that I can knit a seriously funky scarf (with is really closer to the truth than “shawl”) out of less than 200m of yarn should be extremely exciting to all the spinners out there. Admit it, how many unique 200m skeins do you have? Plus, I love blocking. A lot. I think it’s the pins.

Breaking news

Tune in here Monday when the spectacular, very clever and heartbreakingly blogless Laurie (yes, that Laurie) will walk us through how, exactly, she dyes the roving to make the yarn to make these.


From fleece to yarn, Laurie’s secret dying system revealed. Episode one, in which Laurie tells you about the things you will need and the way you get started begins here on Monday, with rising drama in the dye pot (and rumours of squirt bottles) on Wednesday, and the stunning conclusion on Friday. Don’t miss it.

55 thoughts on “Recovery

  1. Wow. You finished the entire scarf/shawl in one day…with an injured finger, a family, a job, (some screech), etc.? I’m convinced that you know how to warp time.
    Can’t wait to see the blocked shawl.

  2. That shawl does not look like crap! It looks gorgeous!
    And made with an injured finger and just a bit of yarn to boot. I think the month is balancing out and the planet is done with its revenge. 🙂

  3. I’m glad things are looking up. At least we’re more than halfway through with February now. I love the color on the Flower Basket shawl/scarf. Can’t wait to get the dying info.

  4. Keep the Arnica up, it will help a lot.
    Only 200 m you say for the garden shawl? cool, even I could try that, with my very basic spinning skills. thank you for the encouraging news

  5. You are right on about knitting being one of the few ways to completely undo a mistake… what a treasure that is! I am approaching ripping out with a far bolder heart these days, since I have accumulated a lot of mistakes over the years that I couldn’t fix. Hope the finger is better today – been there, done that, and even had to have the nailed drilled at ER to release the pressure. You have my sympathy.

  6. Wow. That actually sounds like somthing I’ll plan to read. Er. Not that I don’t plan on reading Harlot every day (that she posts anyway – sometimes I re-read old posts when she doesn’t). But, yeah, I’m all about this.
    Sending you healing thoughts….

  7. How can such a short month last soooooo long? It is such a difficult time of year, here’s hoping for some sunshine. I have been debating whether or not to try the flower basket “shawl”, and now maybe I will give it a go.
    And even though I don’t spin *sigh*, I am looking forward to Laurie’s(yes, that Laurie) blogging about about her dye process. I am so glad she is willing to share with all of us!

  8. Now I’m sad. I thought doing one of those shawls (scarves) in three days was good. 1 day?!? sniff. I’m feeling so slow.
    On the other hand, glad that poor finger is feeling a bit better. It’s not trying to clean or anything is it?

  9. I love to block stuff too. It changes everything. But I still like the feel of an unblocked piece of lace, all bumpy and soft.

  10. Isn’t it funny how we are so unaware of how we knit until we have to pay attention for some reason? Sometimes I’ll look at my hands and see callouses in really funny places. I know that they’re from knitting, but I could never have predicted that I’d get callouses in those places. I’ll also have the occassional brain fart, where I find myself unable to hold the needles correctly if I am looking too intently at my hands when I pick up the knitting. It’s like seeing it too closely completely messes up the instinctual way that I feel it.
    Congrats on being able to knit!

  11. I know what you mean about the fixable mistakes. It is one of the many things I love about my new knitting life. (I started in June at 57 and am loving it.)

  12. One big fat WOW. That shawl is gorgeous. I too, cannot wait for that Miss Laurie to reveal her to dye for secrets…and where, oh healing finger one, does one purchase those purple needles that have the mittens in process?

  13. Yes, I *cannot* wait for February to be over. It always is, and always has been, the bane of my existence. Period.
    Otherwise, I love the flowerbasket scarf/shawl! Actually, I like it just like it is, unblocked (I’m funny that way about lace). It’s really a wonderful piece! I gotta get me one of those!

  14. No wonder why the ‘powers that be’ made February Black History Month. Not only is it the shortest month of the year, most people are in a bleak landscape of cold and ugly days and aren’t in the mood to celebrate anything. But I digress…
    Sorry about your finger…we’ve all been in that position when life just snowballs out of control. I hope it heals soon…can’t wait to see your blocked shawl…the color is beautiful!

  15. I am a color junkie. I admit it. I started hyperventilating when I found out Laurie was going to reveal her secrets for *that* roving. The shawl is gorgeous! It really is one of my favorite colors.
    Wishing you speedy healing for the smashed finger.

  16. A fleecey serial! Secrets revealed! I can’t wait. I must make socks like those. If only there were also decoder rings offered…

  17. hear, hear for smashable projects!! I figured out how wonderful this was a couple years back when I took ceramics in the midst of writing my thesis. I’m bad at ceramics. Really, really bad. I can squish slabs of clay together all right, but can manage nothing more than a 3 inch diameter pinch pot on the wheel. It took me a while to figure out why I still loved the class so much. In contrast to everything else in my life, NO ONE cared if I failed utterly at ceramics. Very cool.

  18. Yes, yes, yes! What I love about knitting is never running out of second chances. (Of course, what I hate about knitting is the endless “learning from the universe” stuff.)
    And I have been meaning to thank you for what you wrote last week about lace looking like crap before you block it. Little did you realize that I was, at that very moment, gazing with dismay at 20 inches of yick. Your post stopped me from ripping it all out, which I realize now would have been a dreadful mistake. Mahalo!

  19. i broke my left middle finger a few weeks ago, and it SHOCKED me how integral that damn finger was to my knitting, aparently. for three days all i could make were silly rolled brim hats or garter st. scarves, i could do NOTHING but knit. and even then, only on semi-large needles (nothing smaller than a US7, gone were the hopes of working on my sockapalooza sock…). so, believe me, i feel your pain!! 🙂 here’s the bad news, and good news. two + weeks later, my finger’s still a horrible shade of black and blue, the nail is doing all sorts of weird things, and i dont have full sensation in my fingertip. BUT!! within a mere 8 days of the break, i was up to full knitting-steam again. best of luck to you and your finger!

  20. I feel your pain. I stuck my middle finger on my left hand in the juicer two weeks ago. It’s finally getting better. It’s amazing what you find out about a finger when it screams at you every few minutes, i.e. that you need it to knit, and that it is the longest one, therefore gets smacked the most.

  21. Books? Music? Irish Whiskey?
    There is life without knitting. I can actually attest to this. I would probably choose a combination of whiskey, books and pointing out to my kid that if I am too hurt to knit, I am too hurt to either cook or play with Mr. Washie. This would be a marvelous time to teach Sam how to sort clothes. Morgen still can’t get it right.

  22. Out here in the wilds of Mississauga, the sun is shining and I can see lots of blue sky. I will now go outside and wave this phenomenon in the direction of Harlotland. Enjoy.

  23. Your FBS is beautiful in all it’s unblocked-ness. You are so fast. Mine creeps along. But it is a nice pattern, isn’t it? Hope your boo-boo heals quickly. Or is it Owey? I always get those mixed up.

  24. Well, I think that the miraculous recovery of your ability to knit while maimed and throbbing means just one thing: You’re going to give away the Flower Basket Shawl. Instead of or along with the mitaines.

  25. Hey, Stephanie — How long do you think it will be before you can work on Lene’s present again? I imagine the wire would really hurt that poor finger, especially with the way you’re twisting it–the wire, that is–to get that really cool effect. . .
    (tried to post this before — I can’t imagine I got censored by the Harlot, so assume it’s in a black hole somewhere)

  26. What’s with the finger hex?? I got a nasty paper cut this very afternoon on my left ring finger! While nowhere near as painful as the door-caused hand/finger mutilations many of you have mentioned, it’s still NOT. A. GOOD. THING.

  27. So it’s true, bad karma can make its way over the etheral synapses of the net. Immediately after reading yesterday’s entry, this morning, I also, in a sleep deprived haze intermingled with the adrenal rush of knowing you’re running so late you’ll never make it on time, slammed my finger in the garage door. Nowhere near as badly as yours, from the description. (And a thanks for the heads up on the photo link…I declined.) By the way, it was my right index finger…we now have a matched set.

  28. I hope your finger has stopped throbbing. I have a beat up finger too. I think it will take a year for the black spot on the nail to disappear. I found a need for my nail polish.
    I have captured this great quote from you “there really aren’t many times in your life when you can completely undo a mistake”. This is how I will always think of taking out my mistakes.
    I love it. Beautiful shawl!

  29. A friend of mine can outdo you. She (in the middle of a divorce) pulled down the garage door and left her fingers in between the panels, you know that space that closes up when the door gets straight?
    All eight fingers. Yep. I didn’t see pictures.
    Sometimes you just have to be phenomenally stupid to make yourself realize that you’re being phenomenally stupid.

  30. Hooray! I’m a sucker for spinning info, since I’m newly overcome with the craft. In fact, I had to bargain with my children to let me finish spinning what was in my hands before I would stop and make dinner. The shame, the shame.
    I still don’t have a wheel, but I’m renting the only one my LYS has right now, the Kiwi. Not my favorite by any stretch, but it’s a wheel, and I’m spinning on it. Plus, rent is really free, considering I work there Friday nights for barter.
    I hope your finger recovers very quickly.

  31. Well….now that you call it a scarf rather than a shawl, I think I’m in love with Flower Basket too! I knew there was something that was nagging at me! That’s IT! I’m immensely more in love with scarves than I am with shawls. (not that there’s anything *wrong* with shawls……– this, of course, is my flame-retardent gratuitous statement so I don’t get flamed for shawl-bashing…) [GRIN]


  33. Every party has a pooper….
    Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March.
    Caesar: He is a dreamer; let us pass.
    (1.2.13-14) Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare
    (You know what happened to him that day)
    April is the cruellest monmt, breeding
    Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
    Memory and desire, stirring
    Dull roots with spring rain.
    (1.1-4) The Waste Land, TS Eliot

  34. good to see that you’ve found a way… (grin)…
    we have this saying back home: “Unkraut stirbt nicht”… it’s kinda a way to make fun of yourself when you tough it out… translated it says “can’t kill weeds”…

  35. I’m glad that your finger is starting to limp its way back to health. I slammed my big toe in a door when I was little and can still remember how much it hurt! And the shawl looks beautiful, even sans blocking.
    Incidentally, I can’t wait until your book comes out . . . I’ve already got mine pre-ordered on Amazon.

  36. Oh my god, you’ve got it. Dead on. The reason knitting is balm to my soul. The reason that when my children complain about “YARN AGAIN?” I ask them sweetly “Can you imagine how grumpy and cranky Mommy would be without her knitting?” (The wide-eyed looks of terror are hilarious.)
    No, it’s not the creativity (although I truly like that) or the caregiving (although I love that) or any of the other purer motives I could have. It’s being able to get it just right, even if sometimes that means just right enough for ME.
    Excuse me, my knitting is calling. As Mason-Dixon Kay would say, I must go pursue the exquisite now.

  37. February was eventually named for Februus, the Roman God of Purification. Before they named it that, they didn’t name this period at all… it was just part-of-winter…. and that was in sunny, Mediterranean Rome, for heaven’s sake. Of course the Anglo Saxons were even stranger and kept a delusionally stiff upper lip calling it Sonatemonthen.. I like Kalemonthen better… Cabbage month. I hope your Kale comes up soon, your thumb stops throbbing and that Laurie keeps taking pictures of that beautiful yarn on the hostas.

  38. Stephanie,
    I’ve enjoyed seeing what comes of your dyeing and spinning yarn, but I’m frankly afraid to go there myself. I don’t have enough time for knitting as it is. Would it be so satisfying/rewarding that I should branch out? Will I become a yarn harlot?

  39. Get that fingie well again! I could not do much at all without my left index finger, but I’m left handed… Oh and while you are at it, make sure that you are really careful if you shave your armpits on an unco day, cos nipples bleed lots and hurt even more!
    I am soo looking forward to Laurie’s dye pot! Even if it means no Harlot for a week 🙁 But you have Other Things To Do ™.

  40. can’t wait, i’m already in the starting blocks. But does it means we won’t have you for the week? Hope your finger will get better soon 🙂

  41. Well, I am glad that you found a use for your finger. I can’t believe all the maiming stories! A juicer????
    Winter is my favorite, spring seems like it lasts two weeks here before the biting flies, mosquitos and the heat and humidity poors on. Immediately after the lilacs bloom is when the crap sets in. Of course, a true fall only lasts two weeks here too.
    The shawl is pretty and looking forward to Lauries classes next week. Take care.

  42. Holy crap. I’m in awe of your knitting volume ability. Do you ever sleep?
    Pretty darned inspirational, Stephanie! Gorgeous stuff!

  43. Gosh. I need good blocking tips. I have 3 shawls I have finished in the last 2 weeks or so, and not a one has been blocked. I have absolutely no idea what I should do with the stuff (especially because some of the shawls are done with hand-dyed yarns – not my work, alas).
    Any pointers?

  44. I have to tell you, I had a very funny dream last night and you were the focus! No gutter stuff, no worries. 😉 I told the story in my blog entry this morning.

  45. The flower basket shawl is indeed addictive (it is a pattern in Interweave Knits, Fall 04). I made two and then modified the pattern into a poncho pattern and made two more. Things that are great about it:
    The pattern call for 437 yards (double strand of fingering) but you can make a smaller version easily. As Steph points out, it can work with 200 yards of yarn, give or take, so all those spinning experiments have a home.
    The increases are neat and look excellent when blocked.
    The pattern makes the border so no fiddling with attached edging or (gasp) fringe. (I did find judging when to START the border tough — had to rip back a couple…)
    It works very well with handpainted yarns because of everchanging length of the edge.

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