September 20, 2004

Obsessive Compulsive Mitten Disorder

On Friday, when we last saw our faithful harlot, she was chugging merrily along on the insane Latvian Socks and feeling pretty good about it. Her Thumb Anxiety© had abated due to a brilliant rescue by Laura at Fibertraditions. Thus armed she was ready to sink into the foxhole of mitten knitting and rise triumphant this morning, having straightforwardly knit the rest of the mitten.

Friday night, while lying in bed I got to thinking about the mitten. I got to thinking about the way the pattern suggested that you knit to the point of decrease, then adjust the length for whomsoever the mitten is for, and then decrease. Seemed smart enough. Except for, (and this is what was keeping me up) if you did that, it seemed to me that you would have a mitten top that could end anywhere in the pattern. I didn't want that, I wanted it to end with the pointy part of the pattern landing at the pointy decrease. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted it. I couldn't just lie there while my mitten might be decreasing in the wrong spot. Who could sleep with a misplaced pattern on a Latvian Mitten?

I got up and went downstairs. I looked at the mitten. I had altered the pattern by taking out a row of motifs that I didn't care for, and had compensated (without bothering to see if I needed to compensate) by starting at a different point in the pattern. I looked at the pattern and I got a bad feeling. I started feeling like if I finished the mitten the way it was, then I wouldn't be getting the pointy pattern in the right spot. It might be too long, or too short if I tried to do that. I got a glass of wine, a ruler and a good attitude, and sat down. I measured it.

beforelm

I was right. There was no way. I looked at the mitten, I thought about ripping it back to the second braid and starting at a different point in the pattern so it would work out. I asked myself why I can't seem to learn that row gauge is a mystic art. I asked myself what reasonable person overlooks row gauge over and over and over again. I asked myself if I could live with the mitten the way it was, or if it was worth the rip? I thought about ripping back half of a finished mitten, and the more that I thought about it, the more I thought that I should learn to love the mitten the way it is? I mean, why am I always forcing my knitting to be something it doesn't want to be? Why can't I just accept the Zen of the mitten?
I decide that I will accept my mitten and allow it to decrease at the point that feels right to it. I go back to bed.

Twenty minutes later I am up and ripping. There's just no way. If I didn't rip it back it would stare at me for the rest of my life. The mitten would call me things like "slacker" and "coward" and it would belittle me and my half-arsed skills for many years to come. Over the years the mitten and I would never really be able to re-capture the feeling of our salad days, back when I knit it's braids. It would never really open up to me and I would grow to resent it. I would start to apologize for it's non-pointed patterning at cocktail parties, and the mittens would say that it didn't matter...but everyone would know that it wasn't true. The distance would grow until one day in March when I was wearing the mittens on the subway, and the weather is a little bit un-mittenish, just at the point when you might not get frostbite without mittens, and I'd get off at my stop and walk down the street and suddenly realize that the mittens aren't with me. That I've left them, or maybe they left me...it doesn't matter, because it was doomed from the moment that I couldn't commit, rip back and make it right between us.
I can't live like that.

afterlm

I went back, I did the math (row gauge is a pox on the earth) and figured out where to start if I wanted a pointy ending that was also the length of my hand.

The rest of the weekend was spent making up for lost time and feeling the possibility of my perfect future with the mittens all come together.
I finished this morning.

finisdlm

See what I mean? See how it would have never worked between us without the pointy goodness? See how I'm clearly not out of my mind staying up nights worrying about mittens? That would have kept anybody up. Except Joe, I tried to explain it to him when he asked why I was up ripping back mittens in the dead of night. He just gave me that look again.

Wanna see the palm and thumb?

finishedplamlm

Yeah baby. The thumb is almost enough satisfaction by itself. It is perfect in it's striped thumby perfection. How could I have had this thumb on a substandard mitten?

This morning when I went to my mailbox, I could see that it was all coming together. If I hadn't pulled back the mitten, then I wouldn't have finished this morning, and If I hadn't finished this morning then I wouldn't have gotten this super cool scrabble tile ring from Carolyn just as I was finished.

scrabblering

It felt like a party. Thanks Carolyn!


Posted by Stephanie at September 20, 2004 12:14 PM