Finally home. The house is trashed, my inbox is out of control, the fridge smells funny, there are dust bunnies everywhere – no, forget that. These are dust bison. Huge, hulking things – roaming across the hardwood in herds. My suitcase is in the middle of the living room, spilling contents around, while piles of stuff I brought home on the previous trips, but didn’t have time to put away sit in sentinel piles thoughout the main floor. Joe walked out the door for the airport a few hours after I walked in, and I’ve spent the last little bit essentially lying face down on my bed. I only got up long enough to go to a Bike Rally Steering Committee meeting last night where I’m pretty sure I was a jetlagged lunatic. (Why am I always the only one knitting at these things? How everyone else copes, I just don’t know.)
All over the house are the knitted things produced in the last month, all needing blocking. There’s two unblocked shawls, an unblocked baby sweater, and… something else I can’t remember right now. I need another day of retreat from retreats before I’ll be able to think straight. That last retreat was beautiful, but by the end of it I was starting to feel like teaching – the sharing of information, was starting to be a transfer of information. My students were knitting better and better, and I was knitting worse and worse. Case in point?
I’d started that little baby sweater after finishing the shawl, and thought it to be perfect for the sort of knitting that gets done at these things, when you’re always talking, always listening – the environment takes a lot of focus, so the knitting needs to be easy peasy. This sweater is that. Dead simple. Nothing to it. You cast on at the neck, mark four points of increase, go at it until the yoke is big enough, then put the sleeves on holders, and work the body round and round, then go back and knit the sleeves down. Walk in the park. I could knit it in my sleep. I cast on with a borrowed baby on my lap, just so I’d have the vibe right, then knit away on it all through dinner. (I kept the baby too. Knitting while rocking a baby is one of my specialties. I cross my legs, ankle resting on knee, then plop the wee beastie in the nook. Works really well.)
I kept knitting, almost to the armholes at Fiona Ellis’ talk about necklines that night, and no end of people came up and asked what I was knitting, gave it a pat and a nod. Fiona had a look at it, and Amy had a look at it, and I was sitting beside Clara Parkes. They all had a look and copped a feel. To sum up, I am a knitting teacher. Three other knitting teachers and about a hundred perfectly competent knitters at a sweater retreat all had at least a glance. This should, you would think, mean that any truly large mistake I was making would have been pointed out to me at some point in the evening. When the evening was over, I collapsed onto the bed and lost consciousness – jet lag will do that too you.
I was up, bright eyed and bushy-tailed at 5am (that’s the flip side of that jet lag) and thought I’d take a minute to separate the sleeves, and get going on the body. That way it would be all sorted to be my takealong knitting for the day. I knit across the front stitches, then threaded spare yarn onto a darning needle, and started slipping the stitches from the needle, onto the thread, one by one, just churning along until I got to the next increase. That would be a sleeve’s worth. Except – well, it seemed like a lot of stitches. A whole lot. I stopped, thinking maybe I’d knit across a sleeve instead of the front, and checked the pattern to see how many stitches that sleeve was supposed to have, and laid the work down to figure out what was up.
Then I saw what a hundred knitters had not.
You bet. That whole time, in front of everyone, as a recognized knitting expert, surrounded by knitting experts, I had knit the full yoke of a sweater with one and a half sleeves.