You will obey

So here’s a thing.  I love rules.  I adore them.  I find a special and deep comfort in being the person making the rules and plans for those around me, but I also mostly don’t mind being someone who has to abide by rules.  I think it makes the world a more orderly place if everyone knows that everyone is all going to do the same things at the same time.  I like it.  I like it so much that it is hard for me to break rules.  Now, I know not everyone is like this.  My friend Jen, for instance – she’s very structured but pretty lawless, and my husband Joe… Joe is practically a one man anarchy squad.  He’s forever doing whatever the hell he wants, while I stand behind him all sweaty and wringing my hands, and saying things like "I think if we were supposed to go in there the door would be open" or "I don’t think this is a parking spot" or "They said to come at 7:00 and now it’s 7:15 and people are going to be upset." or "You can’t just put things in the dishwasher. There’s a system for doing it and that cup can’t be where the knives go because now I’m going to have to put the knives where I usually put the glasses, and do you see how now the plates have to go on this side and the ENTIRE SYSTEM IS RUINED BECAUSE YOU CAN’T FOLLOW A SIMPLE RULE ABOUT CUPS?   Joe always says the same thing.  "Baby, relax. Nobody cares."

Relax? Nobody cares? For the record, I care, and I’m not nobody, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person out there with a respect for decent conduct and social order. Joe’s taking apart the fabric of civilization and I should relax? Doesn’t he know that without rules we’d all be rude and chaotic? A sense of order and a structure for doing things is what separates us from running wild like  wolves.  (OH WAIT JOE. Wolves have rules and order. They don’t just put the mugs in the cupboard any way they want to like it doesn’t matter. Like they live alone.. like… never mind.) The point is that I like rules.  They give me a profound sense of comfort, and breaking them gives me hives – with one exception. If I think I understand a reason for a rule, and can then see that there’s no good reason why I should do as I’m told… then I’m fine. I can skip it and follow my own logic and personal rules.

Let’s say I’m in a mall with a kid in a stroller, and I have to go upstairs. There’s a sign on the escalator that says no strollers.  I’m the sort of person who can see that they’re worried that some idiot is going to take a stroller on there and get someone hurt because they’re stupid.  Me, I’m not stupid.  I know how to take a stroller on the escalator, so I don’t have to listen to that rule.  Up I go.  (I know. Some of you are going to feel compelled now to tell me in the comments how dangerous that is, and that you know someone who wasn’t stupid who had an escalator accident and how it really, really is dangerous and I shouldn’t be so flip. I know. Just get it out of your system. You’ll feel better. My kids are big now. At least I’m no longer a danger to others.)  I also break rules that I think are not right – like the rules about how often I should vacuum, or what constitutes "too much knitting".

Now, I think this means that I’m not a total lunatic.  Sure, I might be a little more "structured" than your average person, but it means that I obey almost all life rules ("I don’t know why they have that fenced off, so I’ll stay out") and almost no knitting rules.  Most of the time I figure that there’s not much about knitting I can’t figure for myself, and besides – how bad could the consequences be anyway?  It’s only knitting.  This means that night before last, when I read briefly skimmed Lucy’s instructions about how to take off the waste yarn on the sweater, and open up the front, back and neck – I didn’t really get it, but I didn’t really worry about it. I closed the pattern – and resolved to deal with the mystery she was presenting in the morning. 

The next morning, while we drank coffee and Joe read the paper, I thought about how Lucy’s finished Baby Venus looked, and I picked up all the stitches that I thought Lucy wanted me to (because my own rule about always reading a pattern didn’t apply here – I knew what I was doing) and I removed the waste yarn. 

I did this the way Lucy wanted me to – or, to be more precise, the way that I felt sure Lucy was asking me to in the pattern that I had not read. 

When I had them all picked up, I thought about that little "v" shaped insert that Lucy has at the back neck, and realized how Lucy wanted me to knit that. (Again, please note that I came to this deep and profound understanding of Lucy’s pattern instructions without knowing – except in my heart, what they were.)  I proceeded to knit back and forth, decreasing like you would to make a triangular shawl in the centre back, while working the band at the same time.  For a while, it seemed to be working. Then I realized that Lucy was wrong, and that it wasn’t working.  I was knitting a prodigious hump into the back, and the bands were coming out too wide, and that this made the buttonhole placement all weird, and what the hell was that Lucy Neatby on about?  How did she think this would work?  Her instructions were crap! Total crap!

I ripped the whole thing out.  I tried again.  This time, instead of decreasing 3 stitches every other row in my triangle, I doubled it – doing the decreases every row.  When I was done I had more of a roundish dorsal fin than a great hump, but it still wasn’t right – and by now I couldn’t believe how much I was having to screw with Lucy’s pattern to make it work.  I ripped it out again, and finally went to get the pattern so that I could see if maybe I had misunderstood her.

It was only as I read Lucy’s extremely clear and precise instructions for how I was to knit the insert (by itself, and with 5 stitches diminished every row – THEN knit the bands)  that I realized that I had broken the few knitting rules I do have.
Read the pattern. I don’t have to do what it says, but I should at least read it.
I am not a psychic.  I don’t know what the designer is thinking.
Never, ever, ever deal with anything before my second cup of coffee.

and finally,

Lucy Neatby is smarter than I am. 

PS. Sorry about what I said about you yesterday Lucy.  I think it’s great you’ll never know what that was. See you at camp.

PPS. If you’re a knitter making this sweater, don’t pay any attention to my pictures.

Not mud

After a rather wild ride last week (that ended with an emergency city crew still here ripping up our street at 11pm Thursday night – I am sure we are absolutely beloved by our neighbours right now) we have water.  We still have a bit of a mess, but there’s water in the pipes, and it’s even stopped being rather dramatically mud coloured.  More than that, we suddenly have water pressure.  We’ve always had enough water, as long as you didn’t want to do more than one water thing at a time – like fill the bathtub (20 minutes) and flush the toilet, or run the dishwasher and do laundry, or brush your teeth and wash a pot. 
(Those of you who have lived with teenaged girls may now silently nod your heads respectfully in our direction – because yeah. We raised three teenaged girls in a house with one bathroom, no shower and water rationing. I like to think it made them all great negotiators who can all get ready to go out in 2.5 minutes.) With our new pipes it seems that we can do an unlimited number of water things at once, and (other than constantly cleaning up mud) Joe and I have spent a really unreasonable amount of time this weekend rushing around watching the bathtub fill while the washer is on.  We are a simple people.

I’ve been scrubbing up mud all weekend – I’ve put what’s left of my garden back in, and planted a few pansies to try and distract the neighbours from the smashed up sidewalk, swathes of mud and unpaved sections of the road.  (As Joe said, when I told him that was my plan "I hope they’re GREAT pansies.")  On the knitting front,  I spent the weekend working on things that are not mud coloured.  Take this baby sweater.  It’s the Baby Venus sweater from Lucy Neatby, and it’s as odd as fish.  Knit seamlessly from side to side, with all manner of fancy tricks, like tubular cast-ons and short rows and waste yarn fanciness – it’s another one of those patterns that’s like the baby surprise sweater – or turning your first heel.

It all works if you can just suspend your disbelief and march on, doing exactly as you’re told.  Lucy knit hers out of Kauni (tripled by way of chaining it as you go along to preserve the stripes) but mine’s out of BMFA Twisted, held double. It was quick and interesting, although at one point I did have to remind myself that to the best of my knowledge, Lucy Neatby is just interesting, not insane, and that her instructions were unlikely to be wrong. (They weren’t. So far it works perfectly – and very entertainingly.)

When that wasn’t what I was doing, I churned away on a pretty pair of socks.

These bad boys ( String Theory Continuum – in Trifolium) are currently the darlings of the knitting basket, with all who see them (except for Joe, who’s still Joe) asking for them. 
I’m starting to think about seeing what I can get for them.  Loads of laundry? The bathroom cleaned?  The mud scrubbed off the porch?

Maybe I should aim higher.