In Situ

On Friday morning before I got on a plane, I had gathered my knitting, and packed it, and was happy with my choices.  I put my luggage by the door. I called a cab.  Ken’s Birthday was Sunday, but in a move I thought protected my sanity, I’d decided to skip the Birthday Socks tradition.  There was no time.  I was okay with it, but at the last minute, as I watched out the window for the taxi, a voice in the back of my head suggested that this was a bad move.  I don’t know if that voice is guilt or instinct, but I know what comes from ignoring it, so I grabbed the yarn that I’d considered making his Birthday Socks from, along with some needles, and changed my plan entirely.  I knew that socks by Monday was pretty much impossible, but the voice thought that trying was worth it.

Ignore those needles. I swapped them out for ones that were in my bag after I discovered a gauge problem in the cab.  Now, I know that I can knit pretty quickly when I need to, but there’s being able to knit quickly in the time you have, and then there’s not really having a lot of time… and I tried to explain this to the voice. I tried to tell it that I was going to be busy the whole weekend. The voice said shut up and knit.  By the time I was waiting for my first flight, I had started.

By the time I’d landed in Montreal, I thought things were going pretty well.

Technically Ken’s Birthday was Sunday, but I wasn’t going to see him until Monday. That gave me Friday, Saturday, Sunday and half of Monday to finish, and that’s a lot of time. If you ignore working, which I decided was best. I changed planes:

I kept knitting.  By the time I arrived in Boston, things swimming.

I knit backstage before I did my talk…

Forgive the bad shot. I was concentrating on the talk.  I knit after the talk, I knit a little with my breakfast, and then not at all through the day during class.  I did knit at the guild dinner that night though.  Everybody was.

That night I had a little talk with myself.  I had 3.5 days to knit a pair of socks, and I was not yet at the end of the first sock at the end of the second day, and anyone with a little intelligence can tell you that’s a problem. Still… when I checked in with the voice, it said to keep going.   There wasn’t much knitting the next day – but after class on my way to the airport, I hustled on it – and by the time I was waiting for my plane, I had one sock done. 

The voice and I had a chat again.  I pointed out that I was now seriously behind. That it was 7pm on Sunday, that I would see Ken in less than 24 hours, and that it might be time to quit. The voice was having none of it, and while I started the second sock I checked in with the internet – which is sort of the best way to stay on top of what’s happening with my family while I’m in an airport. There I read that a member of Ken’s family of choice had passed away over the weekend.  The voice resisted the urge to say "I told you it was a bad year to skip the socks."

I knit faster. On the plane, as I walked through the airport,

while I waited for my luggage.

On Monday, I was feeling pretty bummed. The sock wasn’t done. There just wasn’t enough time, and I decided to set it aside until after we had gathered for a family dinner that night.  Right then I got a text from Ken, and it said this:

  "Apparently I wear hand knits as emotional armour." 

I instantly knew what he meant. He was heading out into the world in the face of a hard day, and he had wrapped himself in his woollies – protection against all kinds of cold.  I do it all the time, choosing to wear something made by a friend as a talisman for luck or protection.  I thought about that, and I picked up the socks and started to knit again. I wasn’t going to finish quite on time, but there was still value in it. More value than a clean kitchen, or whatever I was putting them down for.  I texted him back:

"That’s what they’re for. Portable love."

The socks weren’t done in time for the dinner. He opened them unfinished, like a lot of his Birthday Socks in the past. 

It turned out not to matter that they weren’t finished. It mattered that they were there.  The voice had known all along. Never skip the Birthday Socks.  Never. 

Pattern: Plain Vanilla Socks from Knitting Rules . Yarn: Hot Socks Nil, colour 25. Thanks to Sam for modelling.

They’re done now, and I won’t be doubting my instincts again.  Sure, knitting is fun and entertaining, and it makes things that are warm and cozy, but mostly?
Knitting is still the best container I know for love – especially when you give it to another knitter.

Spinning First

Whew! Here I am, back in my little home after a quick jaunt to Newton. (That’s pretty much Boston.)  I had a lovely time with the Metro West Knitting Guild there- they’re wonderful hosts and clever knitters, and as much fun as I’d hoped.  I gave a talk Friday night, and there were classes all weekend, and there’s so much I could tell you that I’m just going to hit the high points.  There was a young, competent and charming knitter – Talia, age 6 (with her self designed monster.)

And sheepy cupcakes (and you will note there are some lambs there.)

and everyone’s favourite flock of nuns (I guess technically, they’re just my favourite nuns since you guys don’t know them, but take my word for it, they’re made of awesome)

and to ice the cake, when I asked the Mother Superior what she was knitting?

She said she was "reconstructing a sheep."  I don’t know what she meant when she said that, but I thought it completely wonderful.

I bashed out a pair of socks while I was there – and more about that tomorrow, but right now, I have to make a plan.  I came back with more yarn and more spinning fibre, and while this is seldom a problem, it is today.  See, I have a simple rule about yarn and fibre. If I can afford it, and it fits in my house, then it is not "too much." I’ve got several generous fibre containment zones, and long ago I made the decision that the stash could be big – but it had to fit in that space. The thing has a tendency to creep out of it from time to time, and that’s always the signal that I have to do something.  As soon as I find myself stuffing something that doesn’t fit into another little cubby, or find the stash exploding onto the floor if I look at it funny, it’s time for a reduction campaign. 

Now, I’ve never believed that diets work.  In my case at least, fibre diets almost always end up with rebound wool coming into the stash as I deny myself things…and so the only thing I can do now is launch a campaign to sensibly reduce the stash a little bit, beginning with the spinning fibre, because that’s where the problem is biggest.  I’m thinking I should go on a little bit of a bender in that department, and turn a chunk of it into yarn.

Of course, that creates another problem – because there’s really rather a lot of yarn too… but, one thing at a time, right?  Here’s my commitment. I’m going to spin every day for a week, as much as I can manage, and see if I can clear a little of it out. One week of a concerted effort – spinning more than I knit for just one week, seven days where I put spinning first.

Anybody want to join me?