September 21, 2004

News from the CDC:

The CDC is today warning that a knitter in Toronto is showing advanced signs of a disease which may be a breakout of SMS or Second Mitten Syndrome. As you know, there are three forms of SMS.

sms

Viral: Viral SMS is common among knitters and most knitters will have contracted it several times during a knitting lifetime. The mildest form of the disease, VSMS is mostly uncomfortable. Having Viral SMS may confer some immunity, since most knitters do go on to knit second mittens.
Symptoms of Viral SMS include finding the second mitten considerably less charming, and perhaps referring to it using adjectives like "fiddley" or "annoying". (Assuming that she/he used "charming" and "intriguing" to describe the first one)
The knitter may consider beginning other projects, but returns to the mitten out of a sense of duty and a desire to have a pair.
Treatment: Symptomatic. Occasionally, starting another project helps, although it is generally not recommended. Other knitters may support recovery by refusing to go along with the knitters wish that the first mitten be overlooked.
Prognosis: Excellent, although some knitters take many months to recover and knit the second mitten.

Bacterial: Bacterial SMS is more serious. We suspect that it may be spread by bacteria living on the wool the mittens are knit with. It too is widespread, and has resulted in many single mittens left scattered across the world. The bacteria responsible seems impervious to heat or cold, since mitten knitters in all climates are affected.
Symptoms: The presence of advanced adjectives such as "stupid" or "Dumbass" when referring to the first mitten. Repeatedly finding oneself in front of the stash looking for another project, as if drawn there...helplessly yet inexplicably thinking about starting different mittens. (Note: this is an important point for the differential diagnosis. Bacterial SMS sufferers look for any old project to replace the second mitten, while VSMS victims remain fixated on mitten projects)
Prognosis: Fair. The mitten knitter may recover and a pair of mittens is still a possible goal.

Malignant SMS: This variant of the disease is terminal. The second mitten will not survive, and in fact, may never be cast on. There is no treatment for this form of SMS and it leaves a vicious swath of single mittens in it's path. In this most heinous form of SMS, the mitten knitter is forced to endure the most painful of outcomes. She/he cannot cast on the second mitten, yet cannot admit this and is forced to keep the projects, unfinished for many, many years.
Symptoms: The knitter no longer uses adjectives to refer to the second mitten, and may instead appear dazzled and say "What mitten?", even as they are surrounded by piles of single mittens.
Treatment: None. The knitter should be supported in her delusions to avoid having SMS spread to other areas of her knitting.
Prognosis: Poor. Short of getting Captain Hook's address, there is no happy ending. Damage may be minimized by keeping the knitter from starting up with sock knitting.

Our Toronto knitter, while the final verdict is not in, appears to be suffering from the Bacterial form of the disease, which in this case would seem to have been transmitted by a simple knitting book, sent to her by our Lady Kern of the comments.

mittenbook

This gift is tempting the poor knitter to thrust the Latvian Mittens into a crack in the chesterfield and cast on something which will be even more beautiful.
Despite the horror of contracting this disease, the Toronto knitter appears incredibly grateful.

Posted by Stephanie at September 21, 2004 1:43 PM