Rhymes With Fuchsia

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Humble Knitting

(a Lenten reflection)

It seems like every time I'm riding tall, feeling like I know what's what, some kind of cosmic law comes into play and knocks me off that high horse. Although I don't observe Lent (much: I'll get to that in a bit), I can always use a dose of humility, so in the spirit of the season I'll tell you a story.

To do my bit for fundraising for Miss B's school, I used to run the snack sale during the Saturday community-ed basketball games for third and fourth graders. I had gotten advice from the previous year's snack-sale doyenne as to what sold best and what not to bother with; the former category, sad to say, comprised mostly candy, and I used to feel like some sort of pusher sitting there with my Skittles and Milky Way bars as the parents would try to drag their kids past me as fast as possible. But it was a fundraiser, after all. For about 15 minutes out of every hour, when the players for the next game came in and the previous game let out, I'd be busier than a one-armed paperhanger, and the rest of the time I'd knit.

I worked for a while on an alpaca scarf in a very simple lace pattern (English Mesh Lace in the first Walker treasury), and occasionally people would amble by and admire it. On a fine Lenten morning one such admirer was Melissa, the mom of one of Miss B's classmates. "Lace, wow, I could never do that," she said.
"Of course you could," I said, "it's really a very simple pattern."
"No, really," said Melissa, "I'm a very bad knitter. Look at this." And she showed me an eyelash scarf she was working on, uneven and flawed here and there.
"You just need practice," I said.

A couple of Saturdays later I was back at my post, now working on an eyelash scarf of my own that I planned to donate to the school auction. I had picked out two eyelash yarns, one short and one long, that I thought were really dazzling together, and I was zipping right along, killing two fundraising birds with one stone, when Melissa's husband walked by and praised my knitting prowess. I made another round of deprecating noises, but in my heart things were not so pretty: I was thinking, bet your sweet whatever, you should only dream of being as good at this some distant day. There are no holes in this scarf.

And there weren't, but when I got home I discovered that I had worked about a foot of scarf after dropping two stitches off the end, where there was no hope of retrieving them, and I didn't dare to try ripping, so I tinked all the way back — which isn't as bad as it sounds because I was working with doubled yarn on size 13 needles, but still. It was a painful fall. After that I used a safety line.

(The truth is that a simple lace pattern will watch out for you where garter stitch will not. After at most one repeat you can read the pattern from the work, and you're not going to be off by so much as one stitch for very long without noticing.)

(Also, eyelash is not very forgiving. You can't see what you're doing, and you can't easily rip just a row or two. A beginner should love her yarn, of course, but I don't recommend eyelash.)

Now Lent has begun again, and with it Annie's 40 Days for Others KAL. Coincidentally Lynne's sister is leaving for Peru next week, and Lynne is running a contest for anyone who will knit a sweater to keep a Peruvian kid warm. So that's what I'm doing. I've told you I'm sweater impaired, right? A major reason is that I tend to want to wing it and bite off more than I can chew at the same time, throwing in stitch patterns and cables and intarsia and sometimes intarsia cables with reckless abandon. Also, I live in mortal fear of seams. This time I'm staying within myself. (Favorite movie line: "One of your best qualities has always been knowing your limitations. Don't lose it now when you need it the most.") Ruth has lent me a Knitting Pure and Simple pattern: raglan pullover, top down, no seams. I'm working the pattern exactly as written.

Will I make it in time? I don't know, but so far, so good.


  • Of course you will. Those yelash will get ya.

    By Blogger Carol, at 6:38 AM  

  • A little humility goes a long way. You'll finish that new sweater in no time, I'm sure.

    By Blogger Carole Knits, at 7:09 AM  

  • I've been thinking about 40 days -- I've done this for the past 2 years, and plan to do some more charity knitting again this Lent.

    By Blogger Danielle, at 10:28 AM  

  • Hang on, you were knitting with eyelash... on purpose?... And to think you were so apologetic about the crochet! ;-) ;-) ;-)

    By Anonymous Beth S., at 1:30 PM  

  • This happens to me all the time, too. As soon as I become mightily impressed with myself (and ready to crow loudly about my knitterly accomplishments from blog to forum), I manage to thoroughly screw up whatever it is I was so impressed with myself about. It's like built-in pride-check. I wish my hard-won humbleness was more about true modesty and less about humiliation-avoidance, but baby-steps, right?

    ~ hb33 ~

    By Anonymous honeybee33, at 4:51 PM  

  • That top down thing looks great! Better than eyelash any day. (My first WIP was an eyelash scarf, god forgive me. It's a wonder I still knit.)

    By Blogger Laurie, at 7:45 PM  

  • eyelash has fluttery appeal. It's a bitch to work with, but it looks so appealing! There is no shame in loving eyelash.

    Yes, you will finish the sweater in time, barring unforseen circumstances beyond our control. And it's purty, too.

    By Blogger Roxie, at 8:04 PM  

  • Yup, I think you will. (Slap me silly about forgetting!!!)

    By Blogger knitnzu, at 8:20 PM  

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