A few words about concentra… hey look, a bird!

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.

foxpaws 2014-10-31

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.

knittingsubway 2014-10-31

You can’t do anything crazy, like take it to dinner.  FOX PAWS HATES GOING TO DINNER.

foxpaws2 2014-10-31

You absolutely probably want to stay away from this.

foxpaws3 2014-10-31

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.

foxpaws4 2014-10-31

I tried it in the kitchen.  I always take my knitting in there too.

foxpawscook 2014-10-31

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.)

foxpawsonlyway 2014-10-31

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…

foxpawsleaves 2014-10-31

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.)

 

137 thoughts on “A few words about concentra… hey look, a bird!

  1. Holy moly, that’s a complicated-looking pattern. I am so tempted to try it myself, just to give my neural pathways a run for their money. But I have a perfectly simple pullover that’s been sitting on the needles since January, and it wants off. Maybe later.

    • ME TOO!!! My neural pathways are JONESING for Fox Paws, but I MUST get two sweaters off the needles first. Fox Paws may just be the proper motivation for getting them done. 🙂

  2. I’d wondered what that pattern was. It’s interesting, even if it’s a PITA to knit. (No, I don’t do anything else when I’m knitting. Even if it’s just garter stitch, I’ll mess it up.

  3. Pingback: A few words about concentra… hey look, a bird! | Yarn Buyer

  4. Wow! I”m impressed!! And I’m hoping you will tell me about the needles you showed a few days ago that were clear and had gemstones in them. Happy Knitting!

  5. My Gwendolyn doesn’t care for the cat either. But that’s because she managed to drag the completed back out of the closed drawer and chew a hole right smack in the middle of a cable twist in the center just above the armhole decreases.

    60 rows to redo.

    Not that I’m bitter :/

  6. SSSSHHHHHH!!!!!!!
    I’d like to leave a comment but I’m knitting Fox Paws . . . crap!
    No matter how many fits & starts – it’s looking beautiful.

  7. It would look lovely as a border, for a sweater or tunic maybe? I would just have to figure out how to transition from wild increases and decreases to straight knitting…

  8. Holy moly, Batman… Looks like brainwork!
    Winter arrived today, have to finish … Some sweaters!
    Lovely project. Good luck.

  9. I found the construction “absolutely probably” hilarious. One thing, though, I counted five repeats; what am I missing, or do I need a lesson in counting repeats?

    • I think she means across the width. That’s the measurement that will stay the same – four repeats, no matter how long the scarf is.

  10. I promised myself that I would wait for your blog before embarking on Fox Paws. Couldn’t help myself. Bought the pattern and spent the better part of the day picking colors. I’m in for the long haul once the yarn arrives. I have a Red Fox who comes every night begging at the back door. How could I NOT knit this???!!! Thank goodness I’m a solitary knitter. Hubby is looking a clam chowder soups on his side of the office. Perfect duo – he cooks, I knit. 🙂

  11. Well, the first rule you violated is, you are supposed to knit her Petal Cowl first. Because those quadruple decreases are easy peasy. And so are the slip backs. And you realize for the Petal Cowl that 1/4 masking tape really comes in handy to tape that sucker down so stitches don’t jump anywhere and that one stitch marker is really really optimistic and about 50 stitch markers is much more realistic. Also procuring my daughter’s composition notebook to keep track of those 300 to 550 stitches is almost a sacred book. But other than that, I look forward to rows 8, 10, and 12. I can’t wait for Fox Paws.
    Really, just knit the Petal Cowl first-no biggie.

  12. I know I’ll probably never knit Fox Paws, but I am certainly enjoying seeing other peoples’ finished Paws on Ravelry. It’s amazing how your colour choices change the way it looks. The pattern has a definite middle eastern feel to it, does it not? Yours is lovely.
    I believe the last time I commented, I was about to leave for the happy hippy west coast of Canada with my daughter and a started sock. I got almost finished that sock in 10 days, even with being the chauffeur and with sightseeing and eating oysters and such. I took plastic dpns and one of them snapped in half in my carry-on bag. By the way, there is a lovely yarn shop in Nanaimo, called Mad about You. They have a bit less yarn now that I’ve been there.

  13. In a moment of crazy optimism, I pinned Fox Paws to my knitting board . . . mostly dreaming, but kinda serious. I see the error of my ways. I’d be waaaaayyy in over my head! Thanks for setting me straight!

  14. I’ve been eyeballing that pattern for weeks. Previously, I had been debating getting her other pattern ‘Petals’ but just couldn’t come to a decision to get that either. I love the ‘Fox Paws’ pattern, it’s very moorish tile-ish and your colors are perfect, makes me think of their food. But, I decided last week to go with Aegean Wave by Iris Schreier. Doing a baby blanket for each of my daughters as they leave the home nest, using the ‘temperature scarf’ idea based on the weather of their 1st year of life, and the reverse chevron nicely brings out the whole of it.

  15. Now with you review I understand that Fox Paws is not for me…for a while. Demanding but very beautiful, like a beautiful woman? Anyway your Fox Paws is spectacular!

  16. That pattern caught my eye a while back and it’s sounding more and more like the ones I call DO. NOT. TALK. To. Me. patterns. I think it’ll be a while before I succumb, but I will enjoy yours instead.

  17. You nailed this pattern… and you are doing well with it.

    I love the way it develops but, so far I’m on version 4 and I haven’t made it past one row repeat yet. I’m swatching it in Cotton Fine but I think it should be knit in something much softer and more luscious. The pattern is lovely, though and I can’t wait for a break at xmas when I can turn everything off and knit.

  18. You, not deviate from the rules?!? Snowball’s chance in Hell! You’re already trying to scale the pattern to anything from a necktie to a blanket for a king-sized bed!

    That said, your Fox Paws is looking good.

    Happy Halloween. Hope Joe and the girls got all their favorites (and yours) while trick-or-treating!!!

  19. That’s exactly how I am with any type of lace knitting. Even if it’s a simple repeat pattern, once my attention wanders I’m done for. It looks awesome, though! You should be proud! And I slightly disagree with your red wine statement. Sometimes really really complex knitting requires a glass of red. Sometimes it makes things less sucky.

  20. your household always seems to eat very healthy vibrant stuff. And, that Fox Paws is quite vibrant as well…seems to move when I look at it.

  21. Had a mobis scarf that wanted me the same way last year. Found out all about life lines! Dental floss worked well as the yarn was even finer. Looking great Stephanie!

  22. It’s beautiful! Even pre-blocking it looks like a gorgeous tapestry. Great colors too.

    I love that there is always something new to learn in knitting. It’s astounding actually how endless it all is. I have so much on my knitting bucket list that it’s official – I can’t die until I’m at least 104 (I haven’t even made Elizabeth Zimmermann’s baby surprise sweater yet!).

    • Go ahead and take a break and make the BSJ. It’s so much fun. 400 yards of yarn leftover from another project, 2 or 3 days, and you’ll have a really cute squishy baby sweater ready for the next baby hat comes along. Almost instant gratification.

  23. YAY! I bought the pattern a little while ago… and am waiting for the right time to get started. It hasn’t come up yet, for the very same reasons.

  24. Just found your blog and have spent a few happy hours reading, love the joyful feeling for knitting and life all your posts give, happy to have found you! 🙂 Best wishes from a knitter in Sweden 🙂

  25. That is an absolutely gorgeous piece and I know that you or the lucky recipient will enjoy it greatly. As someone who took up knitting at the age of sixty something i will leave it for young people like you to work on.

    • Just watched the Blink episode for the first time – loved the reference. Just do the Petal Cowl first then Fox Paws is not hard – it’s always the yarn overs-and remember to change colors.

  26. I managed to do 12 rows (the nth time around) before I decided life is too short. But it’s a crazy brilliant pattern!
    (Also liked the effect from a bit of a distance, but up close I felt the poor yarn looked too distorted and tormented.)

  27. Wow, that pattern won’t be for me until my kids are older. I love yours, though. My favorite colors are the autumn ones, so almost everything you make or yourself has me drooling.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JOE!

  28. A few weeks ago, I saw that pattern and had to cast on THAT NIGHT. Stash-tossing yielded quite a lot of some nice Rowan yarn on closeout from Webs 5 or 10 years ago. I decided, looking at all that yarn, that it would be nice to have a Fox Paws throw. So, I cast on a gazillion stitches. I think I’m partway through row 5. At this rate, it’ll make a nice cover for my bier – unfinished, of course.

  29. I totally agree with your believe of different times calls for different knitting. I may someday do a fox paws, but I so enjoy knitting that I can do while riding, or listening to lectures, or watching football… Happy birthday to Joe and thanks for the beautiful photos… I love your blog…

  30. If it takes Yarn Harlot four tries to get through the first repeat – this is a definite “not for the likes of me!” pattern.

    I think what Fox Paws wants is sainthood. A meditative state. The sort of total focus achieved by famous hermits out in the wilderness, or Hindu gurus on lonely mountaintops (I wonder – does the Dalai Lama knit? If so, he could probably slow his heart rate down to zip and knit this easily).

    You finish this, you deserve a medal. Does your Prime Minister know, so he can alert Parliament to declare YH Day?

  31. I will do fox paws some day, but it won’t be until my son (and any future kid we may have) is starting in school. Too many distractions in these toddler years.

  32. Wow. Your Fox Paws is beautiful. I admire your perseverance. I’m trying to finish 2-Color Under Dutch Skies (by Nancy Marchant) before Turkey Day. It requires Great Peace of Mind, but only on every fourth row. Since Great Peace of Mind isn’t available around here even on an every-fourth-row basis, I’ve ripped back and/or restarted over eight times now. But it’s worth it.

    Have you seen Kieran Foley’s Fleece pattern? It bears a resemblance to Fox Paws in a distant cousin several times removed sort of way, and it looks like it might be of the Type II class of knitting you described, not mind- or supper-destroying but still stimulating. It’s been calling to me for months, and your Fox Paws just gave me a mighty shove in that direction. I need me some (relatively) easy.

    • Fleece is actually easy, as long as the kids are quiet or out of the house. 🙂 I did talk out loud while doing the harder rows, but it was easy to see where left off if distracted.
      FYI, Kieran wasn’t kidding when he said to practice the increases/decreases and to knit loosely, that’s the really tedious part, keeping the tension loose juuust so on the harder row. I recommend keeping it loose all over. Good Luck! 🙂

  33. Uh, yeah. That is a FANTASTIC looking pattern. And not something I will ever knit. At least not in the next several years. Master’s program, internship, working part time, hubby in school and working as well, garden, livestock….nope. The only place I’ll be seeing Fox Paws is here on your blog, and hopefully not in my chicken coop.

    It’s absolutely lovely though, and I love the colors you chose. I wonder if I could find a weaving pattern with a similar look?

  34. I must be even crazier than I thought, because I keep looking at Fox Paws and wondering how I could modify it to be the yoke of a sweater, kind of like Fair Isle without the stranding (=good in my case) but with a whole new set of problems. Hm.

  35. I’ve been eyeing this pattern for weeks, thinking it will be a treat after I finish the Christmas knitting, but maybe I need to redefine my idea of a treat!

  36. That is one beautiful scarf!! But not, I think, for me! Or maybe when I feel really really brave! I consider myself a fairly competant knitter, but I shall have to pass on that. Good luck with it Stephanie

  37. I’m sorry Steph, that thing looks like the 70’s and the 80’s got together, procreated, and did crack all at the same time….not my cup of tea. Kind of reminds me of a potholder someone made me once…out of RED HEART!! UGH!

  38. It’s the perfect Fall colorway, and wow what a cool pattern.

    And yet it sneaks in that Charlie Brown’s shirt’s zigzag in there, to celebrate all the time it flew its kite into the trees for you.

  39. Fox Paws is a beautiful pattern! I can’t imagine knitting it myself, as I have very little concentration skills. :/ what does it look like on the reverse?

  40. I just popped over to Ravelry to look at the Fox Paw pictures and I’m pretty sure I muttered, “Sweet Jesus, someone made it into a HAT!” (photo by dezdemona) But it’s okay, I’m at work on a Saturday evening so there was no one around to hear me. Oh, but HONEY, that SKIRT pictured 17 down by Alpenrose?!? That is a thing of exquisite beauty indeed.

    Hope you have enough tomatoes, Steph!

  41. I can see yet another WIP in the near future. If I keep this up, I’ll never finish anything! Happy Birthday, Joe!

  42. whoa. spectacular. in a whisper….
    I wonder, is there any row where you could treat a few horizontal repeats as a border? It looks like each color band is really peaky?

  43. Sometimes a pattern is a lot of work and you just don’t see it in the results. This is not one of those times-its totally worth it. Good for you for persevering

  44. That is truly lovely, but clearly a totally crazy pants pattern. I definitely need some new neural pathways, but not at the expense of my sanity! Good luck, hope you both enjoy the alone time.

  45. Row 4 is the worst….! That’s where I came unstuck last night. Once you get past that the decreases are comparatively easy!

  46. Maybe in another life I will be a knitter who can concentrate for long periods of time without wanting to stab myself in the head with my own needles. But, in this existence, simply unknotting a tangled skein is enough concentration to push me over the edge. So I’m thinking that, beautiful as it looks, this pattern is one of those that I will just have to admire from afar. Good luck!

  47. I will not knit it in a car, I will not knit it at the bar, I will not knit it while I cook, I will not knit it with a book. I cannot knit this anywhere, the Fox Paws pattern makes me swear.

  48. It is really interesting to read about your experience with this pattern. I am so intrigued and might give this a try as well once I have gone through my current WIPs. Thanks for sharing.

  49. Oh, this is so true, true, true. I got to the second repeat and didn’t like my colors…but I also screwed it up multiple times, so ripping back will be okay. I’m home sick and have lots of knitting time while I recuperate, and let me tell you, Fox Paws doesn’t like sick brain either. It wants ALL of your attention AND a fully functioning brain. So it will just have to wait a while. I’m knitting a sock instead.

  50. I don’t fly — I honeslty have nowhere to go. But my one wish would be to share a flight with another knitter. To share it with the Harlot would be too much to hope for! I hope your seatmate had a clue.

    • I had that pleasure once, the woman next to me was an elderly lady, she wasn’t knitting but when I was having issues, she wanted to help. Only problem was that she didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Japanese!!! But it was still fun!

  51. This pattern has been in my queue for a while, so I’m glad you’re knitting it and I can follow along. Your struggles are helping the rest of us.

  52. OK, I’m just gonna point this out–sometimes knitting DEMANDS swatching, whether we think we’re going there or not! Which this pattern, obviously, required of you, despite your most uncompliant-with-accepted-knitting-wisdom intentions of just jumping straight in…

  53. This post was reading like “Green Eggs and Ham”….Not on a plane. Not on a train. I will not knit you here. I will not knit you there. I will not knit you anywhere:)

  54. I think I need to be thankful for having a kitten that it way too interested in my knitting to start this. Maybe in about 5 years, when she is grown… and I am retired and in need of more neural networking… Lovely, lovely, lovely knitting.

  55. Imagine this, if you will: everything you knit, beyond stockinette or garter, insists upon no TV, no friends, acquaintances or family, no pets, no travel and no recitals or plays (and sometimes no music with lyrics or even a beat). That has been my life for awhile now. My concentration is shot. I was steaming through the Stormborn Shawl once I picked it up again this fall, but have just hit a wall and can’t seem to get through a section, let alone a whole row, without tinkage. Luckily I live by myself or I’d be up a creek without a pattern.

  56. This is going to so gorgeous I think I will have to make one myself – so I’m going to ignore that it might be a little tricky – I’m not sure my confidence could handle all the ripping back I’m likely to need to do myself PLUS the knowledge that it was a path I chose to take despite the full disclosure given here… enjoy your time alone with your Fox Paws 🙂

  57. You just had to sat “stave off dementia”. Well hell, I guess I’ll be doing Fox Paws now.

    Love your autumn/1970’s colors.

  58. Gah, why didn’t I see this pattern while I was still off work on sick leave? I would have to set aside many days of not much else happening to work Fox Paws — but it’s so gorgeous, I want to knit it now. Love your colors, and am just breathless over some of the other choices I’ve seen on Ravelry.

  59. Looking at that pattern makes my brain hurt!
    I am working on a huge lace project that I can only do in absolute silence, the only place I get that is when we are camping, looks like it’s going to take years to finish.

  60. Can someone please explain to me how Canada has such gorgeous tomatoes, while down here in North Carolina, our tomatoes have looked like blech for at least a month??? The locals are all gone, and the ones shipped in from Chile, etc were picked green and then gassed, and don’t taste like anything (Nor do they really look like tomatoes, more like red softballs – not at all soft and ripe)

  61. sounds like my adventures with “camino bubbles” I finally threw in the towel on that one. I think I will just admire fox paws from a distance — it is beautiful, can ‘t wait to see it done and blocked.

  62. I know where to knit this! Remember the house in the woods you went to in the dead of winter in 20 feet of snowdrifts and had to hike FOREVER to get to the crossroads with the little store? That’s isolated enough for this pattern. No interruptions there.

    One of my knitting groups is talking about a KAL on this. Most of the knitters are already way out of my league, but I’m willing to throw in my hat/sanity for at least a while.

    Thanks for turning us on to Fox Paws.

  63. For some reason, I find it comforting that you took 4 tries to get going on Faux Pas. I just made it to row 12 … on my 4th attempt 🙂

    I can feel my brain cells regenerating……….

  64. So yeah..I bought the pattern because I’m ambitious…And after reading all this…sounds like I might be doomed LOL.. With 4 kids in my life plus my own business…there isn’t much just ME and Yarn time LOL! Your piece is looking gorgeous! Here is to hoping I get a chance to START it myself!

  65. Pingback: Warming up Autumn | Words and Stitches

  66. I know you’ve probably mentioned it somewhere before on here but can you tell me the name of that red metallic bag pictured above? I tried searching “red metallic’ on your blog and I think I heard it laughing at me because that’s not what you normally go for:)

  67. Pingback: We Make a Pretty Good Team | Roving Crafters

  68. Pingback: Are you ready for the FOX PAWS KAL? | yopp:: pamelamama's blog

  69. Pingback: A Little Excursion into Fox Paws | Happy Stitches

  70. I read this post in 20l4… and thought “Hm. Fox Paws. Maybe later, after I go mad.”

    Now, in 2016, I’ve talked my LNS into hosting a Fox Paws knitalong. And I’m making everyone read this so they understand that Fox Paws shows NO mercy.

    (And, ok, giggling at the comment above mine. Dear comment spammer, Steph’s blog went viral a long, long time ago!)

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