February 7, 2011

Culling the Herd

I don't think that anyone at all is going to fall over dead of shock when I say that I have a smidge of an obsessive personality. This is usually (but not always, Joe would be happy to describe the great frozen box pizza episode of 2010) limited to my knitting - which is where I direct it, by and large to avoid hearing Joe say things like "Honey, you're getting a little weird about the Pizza."

It should come as no surprise then, that I would have a bit of an obsession with knitting needles - and I do. I've been knitting for a long time, and I love them. I buy them, I get given them, they are inherited or rescued... and over the years, the knitting needle collection got a little large. The circulars (I have two interchangeable sets and still possess dozens and dozens of regular ones) are well managed. I went through them a few years ago and bought a circular needle holder (this one, though it has the sizes in both US and metric, it does only have the American sizes, which is a bit of a pain in the arse.) which has kept the circulars reined in to a system which almost works, and would work perfectly were I the sort of knitter who put her needles carefully back where they came from; which rather disappointingly, clearly and persistently, I am not.

The system for the straight needles was less successful. I had two drawers in the living room, and over the years they became where I put the straights. All of them - except for my set of Signatures, which were also in there, but at least were in a needle roll. The rest jumbled together, a full drawer of needles, tumbled together with stitch markers, notions and oddly, empty needle rolls, and every time I needed a needle, it was a bit of a mess. (Actually, the problem wasn't usually finding a needle, it was finding a set.) The DPNs, on the other hand, were nothing short of a nightmare. I had managed to convince myself that they were well managed because they were in a bin together, but it was quite possibly the worst solution anyone ever had. It was tidy, sure- but impractical. I had to dump out a bunch of needles and look for not just two, but four matching needles every time I needed a set. I hated it. I felt unprofessional and like it was a huge mess and it bugged me so much that sometimes I thought about it at night while I was going to sleep.

I did not, however, organize my needles. A few weeks ago my buddy Denny told me about a program that was looking for donations of needles (a small program, or I'd tell you, they don't need an inundation) and asked me if I had any. That lit a fire under me, and I decided to pay my charming and lovely assistant Natalie to bring some sort of professionalism to the needle situation.
I don't think she was stunned by what I showed her, but she was a little lippy about it.

The straights didn't upset her much. She got those sorted in about a half hour. Out of the drawers, matched into sets, into the needle rolls, back in the drawers. (We had a brief conversation about how many pairs I need of each size. Hint: it is more than you think.)

The she started with the DPNs, and she might have lost it a little. She was compelled to make announcements. She couldn't help herself. She'd sit there nicely for a while, then a nugget of information would drop. Like "You have several pairs of three lengths of 4mm needles. Did you know that?" or "You have so many of size X that they won't fit in your needle rolls, did you know that?" or "Your smallest DPNs are 1.25mm and the largest is a 7mm." or "Did you know you have SIX SETS OF 1.5MM NEEDLES DO YOU EVEN USE THEM HOLY COW STEPH."

I may have called her Judgey McJudgesAlot. This is a lifetime of needles. I've been knitting since I was four, and you can just get off me with the attitude. Sure, there's a lot of DPNs, but ... I've, made a lot of stuff and I ... well. I like needles. I like them a lot, and I see no reason to apologize for it at all. It's not like it hurts anyone, it's not like my children are picking me up from rehab because of another weekend where I made Charlie Sheen look like he has no experience in the field of excess...

And besides, there is a huge difference between Aero 3mm and Inox 3mm and Susan Bates 3mm and don't even get me started on the wooden ones. (I don't think she actually did the wooden ones.) It's just a lot of needles.

It took her forever. Just the DPNs took at least three hours, and for those hours, Natalie sat there, putting the hundreds and hundreds of needles through a needle gauge, making sets, and looking at me funny as she set aside the 26th set of 3mm needles and wondered how this could have happened to a sane person. (I could tell that she might have been deciding it couldn't happen to a sane person, and making another judgment accordingly.)

I call this picture "I went to four years of University for this?"

... And yes Natalie, yes you did. Also, I'm coming to see your needle collection when you're in your 40's. Better keep it together.

PS. I know I am not the only one with this many needles. I know it.

PPS. I don't have that many needles anymore either. Denny is getting a lot.

PPPS. Natalie says I can't buy any more DPNs for the rest of my life (except for 3.75mm) but I say Natalie's not the boss of me.

Posted by Stephanie at February 7, 2011 2:16 PM