Thursday, January 03, 2008

Live & learn.

One of my students wrote on their evaluation last semester: “I wish she would tell us the meaning of the book and then let us discuss it.”

Even though I doubt that that student is a regular reader of this here blog, here you go:

MORAL: Knitters don’t let knitters on drugs make commitments about projects for other people.

Here is what happened.

On the day after Thanksgiving, a dear friend took me and some others to the LYS (that is “local yarn store” for you non-knitters out there). While we were there, my friend came across a piece of what the shop owners call “bait”: a knitted example of a thing for which they sell both the pattern and the yarn. In this case, the “bait” was a darling baby hat knit from yarn that comes pre-strung with beads:

Isn’t that adorable? And look at how peacefully the baby is sleeping! It is even drooling!

Now here are two things you need to know about my friend in order for this story to compute. First, she is not herself a knitter, and she really has no interest in becoming one. Second, she is one of the most kind and generous and wise people you will ever meet. She is the kind of person who is so immensely nice to you that you want to do just about anything for her. But she does not manipulate you into feeling this way, and really she has no expectations of anyone repaying her for anything. She just does good things for people pretty much all the time because she is that kind of person.

OK, back to the story.

So there we are in the yarn store, and she asks the owner if she can buy the little baby hat, and the owner says no, that none of the “bait” is for sale. So I look at the little hat, and I remember that I have made many hats in my day, and that my friend has been so incredibly nice to me (especially during my shoulder saga) and I say, “I will make it for you.” She asks me if I am sure, and of course I am sure. No really. So she buys me the yarn and the pattern and off we go.

Do you already have an idea of where this story is going? Did the moral give too much away?

So first of all I realize that I do not own the needles for the project, and that is OK because I would have felt bad asking her to buy the needles for me since I’ll use them again and again, but this does mean another trip to the LYS, and do not forget: I am majorly drugged up and only have one working arm. So the PP kindly takes me to the LYS for the needles.

The other problem, of course, is that although the hat is mostly worked on a circular needle—no sweat—in order to finish the top you must switch to dpns. When I read this, my heart sank, because of course I did not have the foggiest sense of how to work those things. OK, I thought, this is the time for me to learn to use dpns. Then, of course, those adorable little loopy things on the top of the cap are made with I-cord. Have I ever made I-cord? No! And here are the directions: “On double point needles [problem 1], Knit 3 sts. Do not turn work. *Slide sts to the beg of needle and knit 3 sts*.” Huh?

Now here is something I have frequently found about knitting patterns. The directions make no sense at all until you have the needle and yarn in your hand and you are doing exactly what they say. Then, they generally work. (Stay tuned for my upcoming post about the serious insufficiency of peer review in the world of knitting patterns.) Anyway, I read these directions about I-cord, and I thought, Oh Great. I can’t really do that either.

Now, as you know from earlier posts, I have since learned to use dpns, and having done that, I have also learned how to make I-cord. In short, I finished the cap. But do you notice a difference between my adorable cap and the one in the picture from tilli tomas? (Go back and look at it again, if you are not yet seeing the difference.)

You’re right! Where their cap has all the beads on the outside, mine has more than half of the beads on the inside:

In short, if a little baby were wearing my cap, it would be screaming its fool head off, as little pellets of glass dug into its tiny head.

What the final line of the pattern should read is, “spend longer than you would like sliding all the little beads so they are on the outside part of the cap.”

It is a shame that knitting patterns do not follow recipes’ tendency to tell you how much prep time and how much cook time to expect. If they did, this one would say:

Knitting time: 3 hours
Sliding-beads-to-the-outside: 1 hour

But then, do you think suckers like us would buy it?

1 comment:

Magpie said...

LOL - Cute hat, but what were they thinking???

I have trouble with knitting patterns...I have several patterns and two loads of yarn for sweaters for my kid and I just don't know how to get started. I do have someone to go to, but still...

Yes, peer review them!