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.

120 thoughts on “You will obey

  1. If all else fails….read the instructions, Been had on that before….namely IKEA but knitting too.

  2. Amen to the homage to rules; my huband and I have many similar chats – with similar results.
    Beautiful sweater; my guess is Lucy will understand. Buy her a beer, or a cuppa tea, and all will be forgiven!

  3. I can totally relate to your stress when rules are not followed. It drives me crazy and fills me with anxiety at the same time. I struggle not to let that anxiety seep out into the unsuspecting world.

  4. One rule I learned about knitting from a very smart friend is “There are no knitting police”. Also, there is nothing you knit that you can’t rip out and do over. That’s why I love knitting and hate sewing.

  5. I have a similar story that I’m intending to share on my blog soon. I wrote the designer and let her know that I can’t read and I’m going to publicly apologize for my (erroneous) review of how confusing her instructions were at knit night.
    Oh, and since your marriage to Joe sounds so similar to mine, I hope that in time I’ll also become a wonderous knitter making a living at what I love. Now to work on the skills (knitting/writing) to make that happen. 🙂

  6. I’m the opposite. I will read the instructions, I will obey them blindly, even if they seem wrong. If the project doesn’t work out, I think I made a mistake, I go back to the instructions, and redo it. It takes me sometimes three attempts to finally realize the mistake is in the pattern, and not a result of my reading the instructions wrongly. I think it says something of my self-confidence (or lack thereof) vs. yours. I would rather be in your shoes anytime.

  7. ah, but you should have known that it couldn’t be Lucy who had made a mistake…she’s one of the knitting goddesses! (Don’t worry, you’re in the pantheon, too.)
    Is there a picture of the finished sweater?

  8. Your interactions w/Joe sounds like my fiance and I. We moved into a new house w/new appliances and before using the dishwasher for the first time, I read through the instructions and carefully studied the diagrams showing the best way to load the racks. My fiance asked what I was doing. I told him. He said, “I think you can just load the dishwasher however you want.” (Said like I was insane and helpless and probably need to re-read an instruction manual on how to wipe my butt every time I go to the bathroom.) I said, “Uh, NOOOO. There is a BEST and MOST EFFICIENT way. And that’s the way I’m going to load this dishwasher forever and ever.”

  9. Is there not something about the act of knitting that entices one to continue with (neurotic?) optimism that all will turn out as you intend it to? Like driving a familiar route and not remembering every sight you passed even though you know you drove with your eyes open?

  10. Ah well, I do appreciate that you share your “adventures” in pattern (non) reading. It’s really quite heartening to those of us with much less experience that you too make errors now and again! And yeah, Lucy does seem pretty damned smart, doesn’t she? ;).

  11. Miss Flaherty, my 5th grade teacher said:”Read the problem all the way through.Don’t try to figure it out along the way. If you get stuck, read the problem again.” Funny how those words come back to haunt me when knitting.

  12. Actually, dishes get cleaner when they’re put in the dishwasher in a certain way. The haphazard method frequently requires an environmentally unfriendly second wash.
    No, I’m not a fan of rules. Why do you ask? 😉

  13. My rules mostly consist of checking the computer every hour or so at work to see if you’ve posted on the blog. I know I could get alerts, but I love the sense of joy when a new post goes up-even when it is days old (Monday is a hard day at work, sometimes I do not have any time to check The Blog). I love your posts. I too have the dishwasher/cupboard/everything in its place gene. My kids do not, but they understand it is easier to do it my way than listen to WHY I do it that way. Much, much easier.

  14. I am SO you. And Mr. Right is totally Joe. And this is AWESOME, because if it’s also you, it’s not just me and that means I’m not crazy. Huzzah! Many thanks for the validation.
    Lucy might think you’re a teensy bit crazy, though.

  15. She’s a smarter knitter than me too (want me to show you Ophelia’s shoulders again?). Lisa Grossman is another designer I will obey without question. The designer has to prove themselves first, so many times I suspect I could improve on what’s written, do what I’m told and then regret it later.

  16. It makes me so happy to see how many people agree with your opinions on rules and your conversations with Joe. I am the one constantly fretting about being late, inadvertently trespassing, ordering wrong in the restaurant. I always tell my husband that he is so laid back that I have to worry enough for the both of us. Then again, if I had married someone even remotely as nervously committed to rule following as myself, we might never leave the house. As far as my knitting goes, I do always read the pattern, but my reading comprehension is not always on the mark. “Wait, knit TWO together each row? That was certainly not in there before I did the first 40 rows. Well, maybe it isn’t that important . . . I’ll just add a decrease here and be on my way.”

  17. I thought you were talking about me when it came to following all of the rules. I even read all of my owner’s manuals from cover to cover. I’ve often wondered, however, if there really are people on this earth who think a plastic bag is a toy. Is it really necessary to stamp that warning on plastic bags?? I shuddered when you mentioned strollers on escalators, though. Your daughters may have survived their stroller rides on escalators, but I’ll bet they will never let you take their children to the mall alone!
    I’ve been chuckling over your blog of today and yesterday regarding Lucy’s pattern, and I hope that Lucy reads your blog so that she can have a good laugh also. Never underestimate Lucy’s instructions, LOL!

  18. My knitting rules when reaching a tricky spot, or something I don’t quite know how to do:
    Read the pattern.
    Read it again and reference Knitting for Dummies, or Stitch & Bitch, or some other tome of knitting wisdom (sorry, I don’t own one of yours… YET)
    Pick up your needles and attempt it slowly.
    Read it again if it seems you’re doing something wrong.
    Go to computer, search for video and other sites who explain it better than pattern.
    Knit while watching said video/reading site.
    Go back to original pattern once you feel better about it and scribble notes about how to do it that make more sense.

  19. I follow rules, sometimes to my detriment (like when it said “setup after 4pm” at the crank-in, and I headed over at 3:15, and everyone was already set up), and it irritates me when other people don’t. It upsets my natural sense of order. It causes me a low level of anxiety.
    I figure when people set up rules, there’s a reason for that rule (personal danger for self or others, potential property damage for my equipment or the equipment of the venue, etc.) and if everyone just ignored all the rules all the time, it would be anarchy.
    I had someone tell me that the state I was in didn’t have sales tax, and none of the other vendors were charging sales tax, and then “I’m a business, I don’t have to pay sales tax”… it seems that the people who have retail licenses/sales tax licenses are the worst ones about sidestepping or avoiding the rules set out.
    I also had someone tell me it took her (engineer) husband 2 days to put together her skeinwinder, because he didn’t read the instructions first (and we include clear instructions with our winders).

  20. I too am a rule/breaking the rules girl. I’m glad I’m not the only one who read the dishwasher manual! I’m always torn about making silverware put away faster or following the “suggestion” that silverware NOT be placed together with same, in order to avoid nesting and still dirty spoons. And to compromise, we alternate cups up/down in the cupboard, which actually allows us to put more cups in (we have a LOT of pint glasses).
    On another note, I can’t wait until I’ve got enough knitting experience to whip out a baby sweater or a pair of socks that fast.
    Also wanted to mention that WEBS is nominated for the “Retail Means Jobs” contest, which could win them $25,000. Check out the link, the contestants, and give them a vote if you’d like.

  21. You mean I’m not the only one going “But the invitation said 7 and now the hosts will be offended!” My boyfriend doesn’t understand it and it drives me bonkers. I’m okay with 15 minutes late, maybe, because I can attribute that to public transit. But this whole “no one is actually expected at the party til 2 hours post start date” makes me twitch.

  22. I love rules too. I especially love that being an adult means I get to make the rules. My rules say that you can only have ice cream for dinner if you skip having a real dinner. Socks may never at any moment be inside out. They must live their entire lives right side out, so that I never have to turn them. Fortunately I live alone, so I’m allowed to be neurotic because no one’s there to notice.

  23. I am equally law-abiding, and my husband is equally anarchical. So I understand.

  24. “Never, ever, ever deal with anything before my second cup of coffee” Hear hear!

  25. Of interest, this also applies to cooking and reading of recipes. For cooks I trust or hear good things about, I follow their one recipe in a book that says “If you make just one thing in this cookbook, make THIS.”
    I make it exactly as stated, even if my bat sense is screaming its squeaky little head off. That way, when I am done, I know just how different their taste for things is from mine. It generally serves me well for the rest of their creations too. Some like it too spicy, too salty, too thick or wow that was great but not what I expected. I have yet to get this far with yarn and designers but I didn’t go to yarn school either.
    Thanks for the fun this morning. It is always so nice to see just how much mileage one can have at their significant other’s expense lol. For the record, I load my dishwasher with the handles facing up so I don’t put my fingers on the surface other people put their mouths on. It is simple courtesy/cleanliness. I can’t for the life of me figure out why my husband doesn’t get it.
    Thank you for the smile. 🙂

  26. Anarchy forever! Except when doing laundry or loading the dishwasher. Cups on the left, glasses on the right, bowls in the middle. OR ELSE!!!

  27. One needs to know when to follow rules and when to break them. I might not break the no-stroller-on-escalator rule (not because I don’t trust myself, but I have no control over the other potential yahoos on the escalator), but I definitely might break a knitting and crochet rule. Of course, only after I’ve read the written directions. 🙂

  28. With you on the loving of rules (mostly). I always told – and sometimes still tell – my now-adult kids when they complain about how something “must” or “should” be done in my world that I LIKE rules. That’s why I became a lawyer. LOTS of rules!! 😉
    And, the sweater is adorable – love that colorful yarn.

  29. I too have a loose understanding of reading patterns…what do designers know anyway??? It sometimes fails me, ok, most of the time fails me, but how else do you find new and amazing ways to knit (rip out?)????!!@!!

  30. I break rules all the time. I took my newborn son up an escalator IN the stroller much to the look of horrified people with the Childrens Aid hotline number saved in their iPhones. Apparently as a single person with no children, it’s EXPECTED that I’m a mindless, selfish fool, but when I then have a child, THEIR rules MUST be stringently followed or you run the risk of having tea with a social worker while hoards of people gather on your front lawn to shake their fingers at you. I’ve even swore in front of my giggling son who’s now a non-swearing, highly moral (not from me, that’s for sure) young 10 year old. I NEVER put up wallpaper the way they tell you. MY way is better (who cares about the plumb line? My house is ONLY 126 years old and I’m sure I’ll hit a straight wall somewhere! No, rules are made to be broken.
    Liars? That’s what I can’t stand. Apparently for the same reasons liars hate my brutal honesty, but at least I can sleep at night and look myself in the eye every morning in the mirror. So whatever rule you want to follow, be proud that you’ll never be arrested or get a big fat, whopping parking or speeding ticket for breaking the rules.

  31. I love rules, too. It doesn’t matter what they are – they can be totally cowboy! – but they must be followed. They are what keep me going at work (IT QA – talk about following/enforcing rules!) and at home. Thanks for helping to explain it all to the rest of the world!

  32. Funny how knitting instructions change your interpretation of a pattern if you actually read them. I think every knitter has discovered that they cannot necessarily intuitively knit some patterns. On the other hand, just because it is written doesn’t necessarily mean it is right (and hence, errata!).
    And my husband and I don’t work too well together because he has me read all the flippin’ instructions…and he just does his own thing. So it will be ninety degrees Farenheit in the shade, and I have all sorts of safety stuff on…and he is standing out in the sun, slapping on the paint remover, half-dressed (all no-no’s in the instructions!). And that is why the sexes are different!!! And opposites attract! ;-D

  33. I too have rules about the dishwasher that my husband benignly ignores. Mine have to do with silverware. THEY CAN’T ALL GO IN THE SAME SECTION
    I am not always a rule follower, but try to follow my own rules (no movie theaters, etc)

  34. Dad’s a pretty smart guy, but he comes from an era when instructions were usually written by people who didn’t know what they were talking about. He usually did better by finding the pattern underlying the instructions and sticking with that.
    It’s “fun” listening to my husband provide computer support. “The information is on the device settings screen.” “You can’t find the information on the website? Try the settings page on the device.” “You need the information from the settings screen on the device.” “Yeah, you’re right. I guess the information’s not on their website. Maybe it’s on the settings screen on the device.”

  35. Lucy Neatby has an IQ of about 200, so don’t assume anything where she’s concerned. Read carefully, follow, and have faith. Or just make up your own designs–which is the path I usually choose.

  36. I have always been told that instructions are what you read while you’re lying on the couch after the job is done. Works for me….

  37. There’s something I’ve learned about Lucy Neaby, both from watching her knit and from reading her patterns:
    Lucy Neatby’s brain operates on another level and it’s already thought out six rows ahead of where you are right now.
    Which essentially leads to the rule:
    Don’t f*ck with Lucy’s patterns.

  38. It takes a strong knitter to admit that the designer knows more than she does. Good for you!! Besides, it’s only this once, right? :^)

  39. There are some rules I follow and others that I don’t follow.
    I have rules about how the dishwasher is supposed to be loaded. Husband doesn’t follow those rules. He has rules of his own that differ greatly from mine (including, but not limited to: putting everything but knives “eating” side up – constantly poke my fingers on the forks, putting the plates on the left side of the bottom drawer, putting bowls wherever he feels like – they go in the section for small plates and bowls)…I could go on about our differences.
    I pay attention to knitting patterns, though, because I’m not quite smart enough to figure things out for myself. Just sayin’…

  40. Me: This isn’t working. I can’t get it to work. Why won’t it work?
    Husband: I don’t know. Did you read the directions/manual/random comments by others on internet with same problem (or before you started setting it up)?
    Me: Uh, no. It seemed pretty straightforward.
    I’m not an out-and-out rule-breaker as much as a lazy rule follower, if that makes any sense.

  41. A conversation to make you chuckle.
    My husband’s boss’ wife at dinner, older generation. Me, a twentysomething knitter, no slouch but not expert. She has just shown me the most adorable Debbie Bliss baby sweater, which she is tortured about because she forgot to rib the bottom. At least she did use my idea of unravelling a bit of the bottom of the sweater and ribbing it down again so it would match the pattern.
    Anyway, I am in awe of her grafted shoulders, perfect collar, and beautifully even stitches. I tell her so.
    Lady Wife: Oh, I’m no good at knitting.
    Me, inspecting sweater: You’re kidding. This is gorgeous! I don’t understand why you think you’re no good.
    Lady Wife: Well, you see, I never get the stitches quite what the rules say they should be on the ball band.
    I was flabbergasted. I think I stood slackjawed and fishgawping for minutes before saying: You do realize those are only the average the yarn maker THINKS you should get? I never get that either.
    She looks at me like I’m some kind of crazy knitting rebel… it reminded me of the ladies who think they can’t switch the yarn color from the pattern photo. Hooboy. So I’d say there are some rules that are rules, and others that are only suggestions! 🙂

  42. I totally understand about the dishwasher. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reloaded the thing but someone else did it WRONG! (at least according to my way of doing things that is).

  43. My husband is a rule follower too. Here are his kitchen rules:
    1)) always load dishwasher haphazardly; 2) when unloading a clean dishwasher: a) ignore where the items were loaded and b) put them away wherever you feel like, not where they necessarily belong.

  44. Then there’s not putting something away at all because you “don’t know where it’s supposed to go. ”
    Dude? You took it out! How do you not know where to put it back?!
    Another I-love-rules and DH never even considers following them.

  45. Years ago, I criticized the way my husband loaded the diswasher once too often–and he said, “Fine, do it yourself!” and didn’t touch another dirty dish for about ten years. He eventually got over it, and I learned to keep my mouth shut or risk having the chore back on my shoulders. Now, he is retired (I still work) and he does most of the shopping, cooking, laundry, and housework–and if I don’t like the way he does it, you can bet, I’m keeping it to myself ;)! Best, randmknitter

  46. LMAO with your blog & the ensuing comments!!!!!
    I have known for a while now that you & I would be BEST friends (IF we lived next door to each other) but today I realized that your Joe & my hubby would also be BFF’s!!!! Hey…wait a minute…did you say that Joe “opened” the door of the dishwasher & actually put something “in” it?? Do you know how romantic that is?!!!!….(:

  47. Whatever happened to the crazy colorful shawlette scarf thing you were going to make from that beautiful skein of yarn? Now I see baby sweater.

  48. I’m the original Anal Rule-Follower. I coloured between the lines. Always. If the page in the colouring book said red for the dress and green for the car, I would use those colours.
    I didn’t like anyone else using my colouring books.
    That’s probably why I am the way I am today.
    Though really, I’m trying to outgrow it. I try to distinguish between Rules and Guidelines and Suggestions and Instructions and Principles.
    But one of my rules is, No Dishwashers in My House.

  49. I knew we were kindred spirits. I also know that, among the thousands of people who read this blog, probably 3/4 of them feel the same way. But really, RULES ARE THERE FOR A REASON. My husband laughs and me and my need to follow the rules, but… they’re RULES! And I’m sorry you screwed up the sweater. I think most of us have done that too – skimmed the pattern, thought we understood what was being asked of us, and then promptly did exactly the wrong thing. I’m glad you got it sorted.

  50. I’ve decided that most men don’t have pattern recognition. This would be why Joe puts the cups in the cupboard however he wants, why my husband doesn’t see that it’s important to put the sippy cups to dry on the sippy cup drying rack, and why I have to rearrange the work dishwasher every night so the tall knives don’t interfere with the spinny sprayer and the glasses don’t fall through the cracks.
    Pattern recognition. I’m starting my son early with memory games and “what comes next?” exercises to see if I can’t teach it to him.

  51. Oh, I’m finding it hard to type, I’m still helpless with laughter!
    I’m so sorry for your wasted stitches. You and I would make hopeless test knitters!
    It’s meant to be quick, interesting and fun…see you soon at camp.

  52. Rules are for Capricorns. EXCEPT the “don’t hog the door on the TTC” – now that I agree with.

  53. Ummm, COFFEE, nector of the the Gods. Sometimes it is good to read the paper and have two cups of coffee before knitting. Have tons of fun, and coffee at camp!

  54. One of your daughters should make you a mug with the coffee rule written in big bold letters on it. Just as a reminder, y’know? 😉

  55. I’m nominating Joe for Sainthood! I’m sure Joe follows rules just like you do–when they make sense to him–and placing a cup in a specific place in the dishwasher doesn’t make sense to him (not really sure that’s a rule in the first place). At least his lack of rule following doesn’t result in putting a child in a potentially dangerous position as the stroller-on-escalator episode does.
    I don’t mean this as an attack on–I’m a big fan of you and your blog–but gosh, go easy on the man.

  56. Thing One: I’m pretty sure Lucy Neatby is smarter than EVERYONE, not just you. Thing Two: I totally get your love of rules. I feel exactly the same way.

  57. I have often thought I had found a mistake in Lucy’s patterns and the fault has always been mine. Thanks for summing it up so well. Lucy is smarter than me. I can remember that!

  58. Yeah, I’m like that about rules too. I attribute it to my German ancestry. That deeply held belief that there is right and wrong and you don’t do somethings because they are wrong and that is all I need to support my actions.
    Although, you are totally wrong about the cups. They belong upside down.
    Unless they are my pint glasses, then I alternate so they fit in the cupboard better. Did that just make your head explode?

  59. Thanks, this was great fun! A dorsal fin in a baby sweater, superb. The idea just cracked me up.

  60. “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?”
    THIS IS ME times a million. Oh husband dear, why can you not remember that the mesh strainer does not go in the dishwasher? It comes out dirtier than it went in!

  61. I too have many rules. Especially about the dishwasher. Xanax helps. I have also gone about aknitting pattern thinking I know it all. Read the pattern Pam! I am a teacher. Following the rules and directions are very important to my life. Hope your water is running well and it is fresh and cold! Love your blog. And knitting inspiration. Coming to Philadelphia any time soon?

  62. I’m very much the same when it comes to following rules and making sure I don’t somehow offend or inconvenience someone by not following the rules, even if the rules are imaginary (the thing about not going into the door made me laugh because I’ve said something similar before). This all drives my fiancé insane.
    Now that I’m living overseas, I blame my little quirk on being Canadian 😉

  63. Adherence to rules retards entropy. Entropy is bad. I’m with you; guys are entropy promotors.

  64. For the commenter who said that, after all, there is nothing about knitting that you can’t rip out and do over – regrettably, steeks you’ve stitched and cut fall into that category. I have a huge raspberry wool sweater to prove it. I couldn’t even bring myself to finish it. Maybe later.

  65. Yes, rules are good – most of the time. I sympathize with your appreciation of them and your frustration with those who cheerfully ignore/abandon them randomly. But I do notice that most of those people are still walking around. On the other hand, I also notice I’m often helping them find their stuff.
    Why is it we always remember those really important rules after the fact?
    Also, there is something (even given the genius of Lucy Neatby) that I call the math text syndrome. Remember when you found an incorrect answer in the back of the text. Remember how you then assumed any answer of yours that didn’t agree with the answers from then on was right and the answer list was wrong…? Hard to get past that.

  66. once again, your writing strikes home with me. is joe related to my husband? they have the same reaction to dishwasher rules!

  67. Oh, I’m a lover of rules, myself. I also have the same rule bender when I understand the purpose and can riff on it (I think I’m incapable of following a cooking recipe 100%, I can do it sometimes with baking). Likewise, I have fallen for Lucy Neatby after coming across your reference of her in an archive of your blog. I don’t know enough about knitting to utilize a lot of what she says in her DVD series, so I’ll just sit and watch them like a movie.
    True story: Lucy Neatby’s DVD series is so interesting that my husband (A Muggle) not only watched parts of them with me, he asked me to teach him how to knit. It hasn’t fully taken yet, but it’s a start.

  68. I follow a lot of rules to the letter, and interpret rules for a living (I’m a lawyer) but some just don’t resonate with me. I think I have followed exactly one knitting pattern to the letter, a lace tablecloth, in 30 years of knitting, and I take speed limits under advisement. This has resulted in the odd speeding ticket, but some of those speed limits make no sense. And that’s the key, isn’t it? If the rule makes sense to you, you follow it. If it doesn’t, you don’t. Now if curfews only made sense to teenagers, we’d all be a lot more relaxed.

  69. Wha…wait, wait, wait!!! There are rules for how often you’re supposed to vacuum? Nobody told me! And… I think I don’t want to know because it would almost certainly make me feel inadequate.
    And I heard in a business context years ago that the secret to delegating is to accept that the person who does the job will not necessarily do it the way you would. It’s a lesson I’ve taken to heart when my husband fails to see dirt. (I accept that he’s genetically disadvantaged, and move on.)

  70. Most people really don’t care how you put your cups in the cupboard. But for knitter, knitting author, pattern writer, and knitting teacher The Yarn Harlot to break one of the most fundamental rules of knitting and not read the pattern through?????
    I think you may have pissed off the Knitting Deities most profoundly. You may have to sacrifice a skein of qiviut or perform some other act of penance before all your knitting spontaneously felts itself or something equally horrible happens.

  71. Hmm, let this be a lesson to me – read the pattern. I do like rules, but sometimes the creative ‘swoosh’ takes over and I think I’m being inspired, but really not. And then I rip back.

  72. I think that the order created by perfect stitches lining up and turning into exactly what was described in the pattern is better than Xanax in a looney world. I suspect most knitters find rules comforting. What is knitting but creating a mathmatical object in three dimensions? Impossible mr. Spock without following underlying knitting rules. As for a pattern. Oh dear. They are all terribly confusing. I prefer the kind that are formulas.

  73. In many ways we are alike – it drives me absolutely freaking bonkers – that after nearly 15 years together my husband *still* can’t manage to put something away…like actually in its place, not thrown in some back room or corner where he’s going to get to it later (which is probably in the next life or something).
    But – when it comes to rules, we are not alike! I’m much more like Joe, and my husband has literally said exactly the same things you have shared in this post.

  74. Stephanie is just too good a knitter to follow directions easily.
    I do exactly the same, get what I believe to be the gist and off I go! We wouldn’t make good test knitters.
    I do make mistakes in my patterns, I’m a bad typist with a short attention span, but I try really really hard to flush them out asap. I love digital patterns for allowing me to update them as necessary.
    This particular pattern was a huge challenge to fully explain. In the words of Julia Gruneau at Patternfish “in her succinct 17 page pattern…”
    I had about a 9 month obsession with the Venus construction and pattern writing. It started as an adult pattern, I knit about 7 of them just because they were fun. Very unusual behavior for me. I developed the baby one as a practice piece for people who wanted to try all the techniques out and it has become a 3 day workshop. I even filmed all the necessary bits (plus lots more besides) in the Knitting Venus 1 and 2 DVDs.
    I discourage reading any whole pattern ahead of time, scan it by all means but in detail,it’s all too much for any human. When writing a pattern I try to avoid giving directions for doing X, Y and Z, and then much later saying those chilling words “and at the same time”.
    If you are meant to be doing two things at once, then I try to say it up front!
    For those of you now about to embark on a Baby Venus: If all else fails, read the directions! FYI There is a past Baby Venus knitalong group on Ravelry for further information. Happy stitches to you all.

  75. I thought I was the only person in the world who cared about following basic rules. I now think there are two kinds of people: the ones who do what they want, rules be darned, and the ones tearing their hair out while cleaning up the mess.

  76. I am a mixture of you and Manon (her comment is higher up the page.). I will read the instructions carefully. If I don’t get it I re-read it about 50 million times and on the 50 millionth time I will kinda nod my head and be like, oh yeah, I totally get this. I begin to knit with a wonderful confidence gliding through stitches. I usually notice that I somehow twisted the directions into something extremely different when I’m done with the part.
    But whenever I get infuriated with my knitting I think about when I first started knitting and thought sl, sl, k with actually, literally, slip, slip, knit which lets me power through any mistake (go on, laugh your head off)
    Happy Knitting!

  77. Laughed out loud reading the ‘loading the dishwasher scene’. Been there too often! Thanks for lightening the tense pre-passover days, where there are a GAZILLION rules to follow.

  78. I’m so OC at times, it’s ridiculous. I’m SO glad I’m not alone. Some things demand structure, like baking, knitting, and accounting. BTW, I’m an accountant who knits. So I LOVE rules.

  79. I’m such a rules person. “No, the DIRECTIONS say that we’re supposed to turn left! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TURNING RIGHT?!? I don’t care that the sign to the right is for our destination!” “The fence says we’re not supposed to go in there! We’re going to get arrested!” Until, however, I read “bulky weight, at four and a half stitches to the inch.” and think that as long as I get 4.5 stitches to the inch, the “bulky” part doesn’t matter. It does.

  80. Goody – I thought it was only MY husband that didn’t understand about dishwashers. He thinks I do things a certain way for no reason (he’s wrong, there’s always a reason even if he doesn’t get it), and I think he doesn’t pay attention.
    My mom used to have her way with patterns too, but I always think of the Baby Surprise Jacket and try to know when I can ignore the directions. Mainly that’s only when it is a very straighforward design.

  81. Yet again you have made me laugh at myself. Yet again you have made me feel like less of a lunatic and more of a happy, dorky, trying her best mama, who is just working at getting through life in the best way possible.
    Thank you.

  82. Ummmm-the stroller on the esclalator thing–no good.
    I’m sure the idiots in front of me who practically collapsed the stroller getting it wedged at end of down esclalator “knew” what they were doing too. They had a screaming kid and about 5 of us scrambling backward to avoid the jam. All of us were fortunate we were fairly nimble, a tottering old person or someone with a toddler wouldn’t have been so lucky. I’m sure the offenders didn’t appreciate being told I thought they were too stupid to breed, but sometimes the truth hurts.

  83. I think you are an anarchist at heart. The sneaky kind who won’t admit it to the more upfront Joe. lol
    I love the sweater…I cannot believe how tiny it is. Is it really going to fit a baby? (Realize reading this I have no children, and absolutely no clue about how small their clothing should or should not be).

  84. Like you, I follow the rules, and worry in excess about not doing so. Sometimes it helps me to remember the phrase my grandfather was fond of: when informed of a rule (such as “keep off the grass”) his reply was, “It doesn’t say ‘positively.’ ”

  85. I also have rules about placement – particularly in the kitchen…milk on the left side of the second shelf, juices next to that and other assorted beverages next to that; dairy and bread on the top shelf…… get the drift. Same thing in the pantry. I also have a husband who thinks that things should just be put wherever there’s an open spot. I’ve tried to tell that him that the beauty of my rules is that the open spots keep us informed of impending “outages” – if the “milk row” is kind of slim, it might be time to buy milk.
    Most of the time I just look away until I can’t stand it and then I fix it. The universe is back in it’s rightful orbit – for at least a little while.
    I’ve even tried to equate kitchen rules with garage rules – you know, the tools must be wiped and put back in the exact spot in the exact drawer from whence they came? Rules in the garage – anarchy in the house!! Got it…thanks, honey!

  86. Rules. Necessary to have a few and meaningless to have too many! (Essential to have the basics that everyone adhers to and yet have too many and people can’t/won’t think for themselves.)
    This is what frustrates me about rules, particularly here in the US (please pardon the crude language, or at least be aware it’s coming): Those that make the rules, piss all over them. Everyone wants to get in a position to impose rules on others AND flaunt that they know better and don’t have to follow the very rule(s) that they decreed! Now, that’s frustrating AND annoying – and just proves that it’s a stupid rule/law!
    It’s nice to hear you follow the rules you make!!

  87. I have SEEN people take a stroller up/down escalators, and not the umbrella strollers either, the full size ones, WITH the child still in it… just about gives me a heart attack.

  88. In the fabric of civilization, some people are warp and others are weft. It takes both to make a fabric. I am a warp. Left unsupervised, anything could happen, even the following of rules for the subversion of same. I leave it to you to decide what you are.

  89. Oh you! You are so wack-a-doo! It reminds me of half-deaf Emily Litella (an SNL character from the good ole days) who would be on a rant about something, and when informed that she was mistaken, would just blink, and go,”Oh? Well then…nevermind!”

  90. Example of an almost weekly discussion. Me: “Honey, you have to rinse all the food off the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Our dishwasher doesn’t work well and is older than dirt; if you don’t rinse the dishes, the food will fall off, mix into the water in the bottom, and get sprayed all over the inside of the glasses on the top rack. See? See this cr*p that is now superglued to the inside of all these glasses? Also, you can’t put an enormous pot on the bottom rack – it blocks 50% of the top rack and nothing up there gets clean. Gotta wash that by hand.”
    DH: “Hmmm? It’s fine, I don’t see a problem.”
    Two hours later… DH: “Hey, what’s this stuff stuck to the inside of my glass?” (He had actually taken the glasses out of the dishwasher and put them away, to demonstrate that they were fine and supposedly prove his point.)
    I remind him of our previous conversation.
    DH: “Hmmm? What? The dishwasher works fine. Seriously, what’s on the inside of my glass?”
    (Sigh.) I usually just reload/rearrange the dishwasher after he goes to bed. I used to think he was being deliberately obtuse or possibly developing Alzeimers, but after reading your post and everybody’s comments, I now think it’s a guy/husband thing.

  91. I generally follow the rules, and it bothers me when other people don’t. Rolling stops at stop signs make me want to tag cars with a paintgun.
    Hubs and I have found a good middle ground with the baby. Whoever dresses her can put on whatever clothes they want, so long as she is clean and warm. At work a few weeks ago I got the cutest email picture of her in the stroller with daddy- she was wearing tights and a onesie. My husband’s email said: I found the cutest leggings in her top drawer with the socks! 🙂

  92. When I went to Europe a few years ago, the Frankfort airport to be exact, their were people, LOTS of people with their huge LUGGAGE CARTS…on the escalator….no one seemed to get hurt. Seems to me you have to know the lay of the land and your own capabilities, and sum up the territory ahead….

  93. Ok, you demand that everyone follow arbitrary rules you made up, but blindly rush around doing whatever the fuck you want without regard for those who’ve gone before you and just might have wisdom? That vacation didn’t help you, you’re still a fucked up control freak. Oh, and now a hypocrite.

  94. Dear Anonymous who posted at 8:27 PM: Think before you press “Post”. Not everyone is impressed with your lack of vocabulary. The cluephone is ringing. You should answer it.

  95. Dear Ruth: vocab was not the issue, YarnHarlot’s hypocritical control freak problems were. “Fuck” simply happens to be an everyday part of my lexicon, rough but true. Thank you for reading my comment and taking the time to respond, even though it was not addressed to you. I can see you are a kindred control freak too, and it makes me feel better than YarnHarlot does have empatthizing souls to talk to. I would know, I’m one of you too. 😉

  96. Loved the post! Feel the same way about Lucy — follow blindly as she has worked it out.
    Also saw the Twitter about Anonymous — don’t you have a delete button? Things like that should be sent out of sight immediately!

  97. My mother-in-law, a very lovely woman born in Germany who immigrated to the US as a young woman in 1951, was all about rules.
    She died in 2009. One of my favorite memories goes like this:
    Mom: What should we have for lunch?
    Me: How about sandwiches?
    Mom: Not possible. We don’t have any *sandwich* bread.

  98. My mother-in-law, a very lovely woman born in Germany who immigrated to the US as a young woman in 1951, was all about rules.
    She died in 2009. One of my favorite memories goes like this:
    Mom: What should we have for lunch?
    Me: (seeing several loaves of bread) How about sandwiches?
    Mom: (incredulously) Not possible. We don’t have any *sandwich* bread.
    *corrected post

  99. yeah, my boyfriend, totally, just never saw a lot of use for the weird little rules that make up the “social contract” for a lot of stuff. We were together years ago, separated for a couple decades, and re-met recently. Since I’m older and a lot more relaxed about the rules thing, it’s working out a whole lot better than the first time, but still, sometimes, I get nuts. Quietly. To myself.

  100. I usually read all the directions. 2 or 3 times if I don’t understand them. I may change them afterword though.

  101. for the record, I also successfully (they’re all teens now) transported three children on escalators while in strollers. This was mostly done while not in the US and in places where escalators were the only option to get up or down.

  102. There are rules about how often I should vacuum? I don’t know what those rules are, but I suspect I have probably broken them.

  103. I don’t know how you ever have time to read all these comments, but just want to tell you how much I enjoy reading your posts. You always brighten my day.

  104. If I weren’t also a rule follower, I would plagiarize this entire post, substituting “Dan” for “Joe” and “Heather” for “Lucy”.

  105. I cannot remember the last time I didn’t read the knitting instructions, but for other things? Not so much. It is so easy to look at something and say, well, it is an X, where X is something I do all the time.
    Funnily enough, that is when it turns out that it is X’, and you’ve made a mess. Whoops!

  106. OMG Stephanie,
    I’m not a much of a rule follower but in one of these pics you are flaunting one of my biggies- your coffee is *WAY* too close to your knitting!!!!! And don’t try to tell me you have never experienced that particularly disaster,

  107. My hubby is the one with the rules. He leaves post-it notes everywhere. He moves everything in the dishwasher so my theory is that since he is going to move it anyway, I’m not going to bother loading it.
    As far as the knitting rules go, I do read them through and then (too often) discover that I tend to do my own thing. I do a lot of frogging. Some people never learn.

  108. Replace this with:
    My dad = Stephanie
    activating Kobo reader account = knitting sweater
    My husband = Lucy Neatby’s pattern

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