It has always struck me as sort of odd that knitting ends up lumped with "needlework". I know we use needles, so maybe in a grand way it ends up making sense, but really, I can’t tell you how many ways that embroidery is different than knitting – and I say that not just as a knitter struggling with the *&^%!ing chain stitch on this baby sweater, but as a semi-retired cross-stitcher. (It’s been a long time since I did any, so I was going to type retired, but I did have some sort of spasm and buy a kit a few years ago, and it’s still sitting here, and I suppose I plan on doing it or I would have recognised it as a momentary impulse and given it away. I guess that technically, that makes me semi-retired, or maybe just weak.)
Last night I diligently applied myself to embroidering round each of those stars on my little grey to turn them into what the pattern says is a snowflake. (The pattern is wrong. They are clearly flowers. It may have been a long winter, but I still know one when I see one.)
It seems to me like these flowers are taking forever – and that’s because they are. Last night I worked on them for hours – about two and a half hours all in, and I got four done. That means that each one is taking a rather ridiculous 40 minutes each. I tested the theory this morning, and yup – even fresh as a daisy in bright light with a good attitude, it was 40 minutes for one little flower snowflake. I know that skill with a knitting needle and yarn doesn’t translate to skill with an embroidery needle and yarn, and I know that you’re going to tell me now that they look great. Really great, and I think they do too. I think they look like someone who knew what they were doing embroidered them.
That’s not what’s happening. What’s happening is that I suck at this lack so much experience, that I’m having to swap in time for a skill. I know someone else could be doing a better job, I’ve actually unpicked two of them because they looked like I gave a three year old who didn’t give a crap a needle and yarn.
It was last night, when I was unpicking one of them – and perhaps pouring myself a largish glass of wine and using unlady-like language (for the record, I think both were appropriate, considering my situation) that Joe asked me what the problem was.
I told him it was too picky. Too tiny. That the stitches had to go in just the right places and the tension had to be just right and it is taking a really long time and…
"Sounds like knitting" he said. He’s right, and it hit me that this is a good experience for me. Makes sure I don’t get cocky. It’s good for me to be humbled. I’ve always got something to learn – and knitting and needlework are definitely not the same. Being good with yarn apparently isn’t a cross-platform sort of thing, both are picky, both take skill and dudes, I need to get some experience.
In other, sad news, Peter Workman has gone to the big bookstore in the sky, and the book business has lost a giant, and a knitter friendly one at that. I was lucky enough to have met Peter several times, since the first publisher who ever took a chance on me (Storey Publishing) was an imprint of Workman Publishing. I remember the thrill of realizing how incredibly intelligent and sensitive he was – especially around books. I liked him, and he scared the heck out of me. I wanted so much for him to think I was a good writer, and as far as I know, he did. He trusted my instincts and was always willing to hold a sock. I remember that several times at BEA, he would make the time to walk with me, and choose books he thought I would love.
He was always right.
I barely knew him, but will miss him. My sympathies to his family, friends, and colleagues. He was a strange and wonderful man.