Monday, December 8, 2008

In Which I am Waylaid

This weekend, I took advantage of a few idle hours to clean and organize my needlework supplies. Yardage, skeins, notions, trims, and tools of every shape and purpose occupy three shelves of a closet, the top of one large bookcase, and many odd spots around our studio.

During the course of my work, I discovered a few half-finished projects, including a sweater begun five or six years ago for my husband and put aside when I ran out of yarn to complete the sleeves. I tried at first to purchase more, willing to sacrifice continuity of dye lot, but discovered that the particular ply was no longer being manufactured. It seems to have been some marginal British weight, somewhere between DK and worsted, and the reason I obtained it for such a pittance in the first place was because it was soon going off market. After discarding the idea of purchasing slightly thinner yarn and knitting with one and a half strands, I hid the sweater.

Coming upon an almost finished project of this magnitude, I could not resist the temptation to take it out and see what I might do to salvage all the time and work. Running my fingers over the neat stitches, arrayed like so many little soldiers in row upon row, I remembered the triumph I felt upon learning to knit, pearl, and rib with the yarn looped over my left forefinger during the course of this sweater. I thought about the textured pattern I had carefully chosen from my book to replace the garish cables called for in the design.

It took very little persuasion to convince my husband that he would be just as happy with a sweater vest, thereby eliminating my need for more yarn. I unravelled what had been done of the sleeves, and have been using it knit on the collar and arm binding. I am sewing it up without blocking as I do not have a table large enough to accommodate the pieces. I plan to join the stitches carefully; with any luck, I will do it right and not discover later after it is washed that I have sewn off the grain.

In the meantime, I have sadly neglected my other work. Ah well. Knitting is a skill that ought to be nurtured, according to Miss Amanda Hess, author of The Little Girl's Own Book, 1834:

The favorite employment of our grandmothers ought not to be forgotten. It enables one to be useful in the discipline of life, when they can no longer be actively useful, and it is a never failing amusement. I never knew an old lady ignorant of it, who did not deeply regret she had never learned. Independent of these considerations, a little girl ought to know how to do EVERYTHING; it may not always be a necessity for her to sew and knit -- but she should KNOW HOW.
Perhaps Ogden Nash expressed my husband's sentiments more accurately when he said:

Life will teach you many things, chief of which is that every man who talks to himself isn't necessarily out of his wits;
He may have a wife who knits.
Probably only he and his Maker
Know how many evenings he has spent trying to raise a conservation while his beloved created sweaters by the acre.
Ah, my inquiring offspring, you must learn that life can be very bitter,
But never quite so much so as when trying to pry a word out of a knitter.

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