Here’s one of the things about knitting. There’s lots of different kinds. I don’t just mean there’s colourwork, or lace, or entrelac, I mean that there’s different sorts of it that you can do to fill different holes in your time. You can have fancy knitting that you do when you’re pretty bored, and need a lot of entertaining, or you can have reasonably straightforward knitting that you pick up and put down while you work on other things, or watch a movie. Then there’s the dead simple stuff that you work on while you’re on the phone, or in conversation, or walking, or in a meeting… the stuff that you don’t even need to look at. There’s all those kinds and more, and I think it’s remarkable that knitting can be whatever kind you need it to be, if you just choose wisely.
Now let’s talk about Fox Paws. Fox Paws is a pretty wild pattern. There’s some really crazy increases, and some truly mad decreases, and those increases offset the decreases and …. you should think of it like it’s Feather and Fan on smack.
For a little while (just like with Feather and Fan) before you have a little bit of knitting so that you can tell if things are lining up, you just can’t tell if things are lining up, and not only that, it took me several rows to see how things were meant to line up at all. The first time through, I had no idea how it was going to go together.
Luckily, I would knit that first repeat FOUR TIMES. The first time through, it didn’t work. I had the wrong number of stitches left at the end of the fourth row, which meant I’d totally screwed up somewhere, and I couldn’t find where, and I ripped it back. The next time it started coming together by about row 8, but I decided it was too wide, so I ripped it back. The third time, it seemed to be coming together, and I actually got far enough to tell that I wasn’t getting a fabric I liked, and needed to go up a needle size. The fourth time it was the right width, the right needle, and I appeared to be knitting it properly, and then I broke a Fox Paws rule, and I had to rip it back. (Sure. Now would be a great time to point out that a swatch would have helped with all of that. It’s a scarf though. It’s practically a swatch.)
Fifth times the charm though, and as long as I don’t deviate from the rules, everything is okay. What are the rules you ask? Well, I’m not sure I have them all figured out yet. I can tell when I’ve broken one because I always have to rip back at least two rows, and I curse like a sailor. That’s the minimum price that Fox Paws charges if you let your attention wander, because see, that’s the thing. Fox Paws isn’t hard. Well, fine. It’s a little hard, but I like a challenge and so do some of you and this is perfect for if you were hoping to grow a few more neural pathways and try to stave off dementia. I’m pretty sure I can feel it doing that, so yes, it’s hard, but a good hard, not an impossible hard. It’s just… tricky.
You have to pay attention. You have to concentrate, and if you don’t, then all of a sudden things come of the rails, your little paws have something really, really wrong with them, and then the numbers are all funky and you’re tinking back a million stitches trying to find the last place everything was okay. Do you know how long it takes to tink back some of those freaky decreases? It’s not insignificant. Let’s say that. I’ve learned that I can’t knit Fox Paws on a plane, if I think I’m watching the movie or talking to the knitter next to me. When I flew home on Monday, I don’t think I made it through four rows. I wasn’t concentrating. It was the one and only time a knitter/stranger sat beside me on a plane, and I must have looked like an expletive muttering lunatic who couldn’t knit my way out of a paper bag.
I’ve learned that I’m not knitting Fox Paws in the car. There’s too much going on. You might look at a bird or something, and then the whole thing is going to crap. Similarly, the subway is right out. I glanced up for a second to see if it was my stop and my knitting blew up. Luckily I was only a half row in when I realized that it wasn’t compatible.
You can’t do anything crazy, like take it to dinner. FOX PAWS HATES GOING TO DINNER.
You absolutely probably want to stay away from this.
Fox Paws also can’t be my “next to the desk” knitting. Usually I’ve got something there to knit while I read, but this obviously is not the right thing. You have to look at your knitting, if you’re knitting Fox Paws.
I tried it in the kitchen. I always take my knitting in there too.
Usually I knit a row here or there while a sauce reduces, onions sauté… except with Fox Paws, you don’t want to do that. You might end up concentrating when the smoke detector goes off because your knitting is pretty damn interesting and you forgot you were making onions at all. (I heard that happened to someone.) (Also, don’t be distracted by the huge bowl of tomatoes. Tomorrow is Joe’s birthday, and we’re doing a sit down dinner for 25. I need that many. As a matter of fact, maybe I don’t have enough.)
I think I know now what Fox Paws wants. It wants to be alone with me. With just a cup of tea, and no distractions, and nothing that could interrupt our time together. It wants me to say “SSSSHHHHHH!!!!!!!” to any member of my family that tries to screw me up by saying really inconsiderate things, like “Hi”. It doesn’t like the TV. It’s not sure about Audiobooks. It doesn’t care for the cat.
It’s a bit much really, but as long as we just sit quietly, knitting like we’re the only knitter and yarn in the world…
Look at that.
(PS: One of you will want to know: That’s Rowan Fine Tweed in Tissington, Arncliffe, Dent, Bainbridge and Keld, and yes. I thought that four repeats was just right.)