January 27, 2012

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, there was a knitter living in a house in Toronto, and she had a few problems. Mostly these problems were related to things like the three pounds of feline rage that lived with her, the way her husband couldn't tell time but hadn't been able to admit it over decades, and what it is like for you if your daughters are young women and all of your best parenting ideas are illegal. (This knitter had put forth solid, reasonable arguments for microchipping them, building a cage in the basement at the onset of adolescence or simply putting the entire family in a medically induced coma until their daughter's brains were finished developing - and had been shot down on all fronts, thus leaving her with the only parenting option left to her, which was to try respect, reason, patience and intelligence.  It was going well, but was exhausting.)  This knitter had some other problems too, like that she drank too much coffee and had a hard time putting an outfit together, but mostly, things were pretty good... except for one thing.  The knitter had periodic, unpredictable episodes of idiocy, where for no reason at all, her usually reliable wits would leave her.  As a general rule, this hadn't effected her relationships or parenting much, because almost everyone has episodes like that, but from time to time it had really bitten her hard on the hind parts in the knitting department.

Such was the case yesterday morning when the knitter in question decided that she couldn't live with "the line" in her knitting.  She ruled out the possibility that she had reversed right and wrong side rows (there would have been an absent or extra row of knitting, were that true) and she checked to make sure that the yarn didn't look different because she'd blocked it (that wasn't it either) and was then left with the absolutely firm and clear knowledge that there was absolutely a difference between the two sections of knitting, that this was absolutely a difference that she could not live with, and that she was absolutely going to have to do something about it.  Unfortunately, perhaps as a result of blanket induced stress (which can be quite difficult to bear, depending on the deadline and nature of the blanket) it was at this exact moment that the knitter experienced one of the aforementioned periods of idiocy,  and as she looked at that blanket, knowing something was going to have to be done,  her throat tightened, her hands clenched and just like a row of startled birds, her wits departed her, and she decided that the only reasonable thing there was to do in the world (because it was the first ball of yarn that was the wrong one, you see) was to rip out the entire blanket, right back to the first stitch and start again.  This (rather reasonably, in your writers opinion) made the knitter want to find out what other people see in Tequila.

Now it just so happens that this knitter has a relationship with "The Blog". The Blog is a bizarre creature made up of a multitude of consciousnesses, that lived in strange parallel land only reachable by something called Wi-Fi.  The knitter had a small box of all knowing, and that small box had Wi-Fi and the knitter could use it to call upon The Blog.  She wrote a letter to The Blog, and told it that she was feeling terrible about having to rip back, and The Blog replied the way it does, with a sea of voices all providing answers at once. Now, having hundreds of opinions at once sounds overwhelming, like some sort of bad episode of Star Trek, but the knitter had the knack of it, and knew that she had to largely search for themes.  She knew that while the voices of The Mighty Blog would be many, they would be more or less divided into several camps, and they were.

When The blog replied, there were those who said that the problem didn't matter.  That nobody would notice, that the baby wouldn't care, and that the knitter must choose (should she value her sanity and liver) to let go of problems such as this, and roll right on.  The knitter almost always disagrees with this camp, mostly because she can be a little bit picky, but also because she has high standards for her own handmade things.  If, say the knitter had done her very level best to get rid of The Line, and the blanket still had a line? She might let go and move on, but to give up without trying isn't in this knitters nature, and it isn't as much the line that would bother her, as the idea that she couldn't be bothered to spend the energy to fix it when she knew she could.  Also, during this process, this faction of The Blog helped her to realize something important.  The baby wouldn't care -  and that's when she realized that the blanket wasn't really a present for the baby, but a present for the parents and family, and while they probably still wouldn't care, at least that made more sense.  Even though the knitter doesn't agree with this camp, over the years she's come to appreciate it, because it's a necessary and equalizing source of balance that keeps her from getting too much validation from the next group, which would likely turn her into an even pickier and more obsessive nerd than she is now. 

The second camp are the voices of the collective Blog who agree with the knitter, and offered support for her obsessive nature,  her perfectionist tendencies, and her direction. "Yes" this group of voices mutter.  "Yes, you must rip it back and you are not crazy.  Do it.  Do it and cry, but do it."
The knitter likes these voices, because who doesn't like voices that agree with them - but has learned to be careful.  People who are like you and think like you often make the same mistakes you do.

Then there is the group that believes errors are inevitable, and a mark of a handmade object and that and that nobody is perfect, and cites The Amish, Muslims, The Navajo and various other cultural groups (depending on the voice)  that embrace imperfection (intentional or unintentional) as a mark of humanity.  The knitter appreciates these voices, but has never trucked much with the idea - only because she is going to make enough mistakes that can't be fixed to qualify as human, and thus feels compelled to fix what she can.

Next up, the knitter considers the voices of The Blog that are creative problem solvers of the highest order.  These voices support the very intelligent and positive design principle that says that subtle differences in construction or colour (like The Line) are problematic, and that one very good way to solve them is to make the subtle difference obvious, and thus more congruous.  This facet of the hive mind suggested things like embroidering over the line, running a ribbon through the line or other such embellishments as to make The Line appear intentional.  The knitter read these with great interest, but ultimately rejected them, since they would change her idea of what the blanket should be in the end.  (She did, however, give a nod to their brilliance.)

Finally, as the knitter assessed the voices of the blog, she read something that stopped her dead in her tracks, and made it perfectly clear that her wits had departed her (which, as so often happens when your wits are gone) she hadn't really known.   These voices said something that could work.  These voices extended hope.  These voices had come up with a solution that could keep the knitter from starting over, and preserve her sense of dignity and hope.  These voices said (collectively, and with variation) If the bottom part is the problem, and the top part is both bigger, and okay, why not take off the bottom, and knit more onto the top?

The knitter stared at this, and then the blanket, then resisted the urge to beat herself senseless with the nearest solid object, and realized that it was perfect.  She had begun the blanket with a provisional cast on so that she could rip it out and have live stitches to pick up at that end...

so what was the problem with snipping a thread and picking up the stitches as that thread was unpicked across the row...

and therefore removing the bad part, leaving her with stitches held for later, just like she had meant to do anyway?

Nothing. Nothing at all. It would mean that she had an extra chunk to knit onto the top, but that was a heck of a lot better than having the whole thing to re-knit.   As the knitter worked this voodoo, she contemplated the fact that without The Blog, she would certainly have (considering that she was clearly without her wits) have ripped back the whole thing, started over, and then (when her wits returned today) would have realized that she had trashed the entire blanket for no sensible reason and would had no choice but to investigate that Tequila, and possibly give up knitting, and definitely have to give up acting like she knew what she was doing in any way at all when it came to knitting...  and the knitter was again grateful to The Blog, and all its voices...  Even the tiny part of The Blog that is actually her Mother, and left a comment essentially telling the knitter to get a grip on herself, which turned out to have been really great advice, which the knitter regrets resenting at the time.

The End

Posted by Stephanie at January 27, 2012 12:32 PM