Thursday, July 31, 2008

What Can Happen with Knitter's Denial

Do you know about knitter's denial? It's well documented. You knit and knit, and you think that something looks... well... a bit "off"--but you assure yourself that all is well, and you continue on.

I have been working on a cute little vest--the Back-to-School Vest out of Fitted Knits. I loved it when I first saw it, and then my friend Alice made it, and I wanted it even more. (Humans are herding animals.) I was making it out of one of my favorite yarns in our shop, Harrisville Highland.

I've been knitting the vest mainly at the movies. (It's summer movie season!)

The pattern for the vest begins with 13 inches of knit-2, purl-2 ribbing. I long-ago trained myself to knit in the dark. But counting in the dark is another matter. Every single time, without exception, when I am knitting in the dark in the movie theater on this vest, I lose count.

And yet, I have taken this vest to the movies over and over.

I have always been kind of a slow learner.


After seeing the new Indiana Jones movie this past weekend, I had just finished another two hours of laddering back. (I know. In that 2 hours I could have torn back and reknit what I had knit in the movie and then some--but fixing it seemed psychologically more encouraging.)

And then I showed it to Kevin.

He took one look at it and said, "It's too small."

This kind of statement, in the store, is my job. (I hate to break this sort of news to anyone. I try to catch any problems early on.) But sadly, I do not always have the same editing capabilities for my own things.

So after Kevin said that, and I had knit 9 inches out of 13, I held it up. That's a test I almost always do--when you hold a piece of knitting up to you, does it go the whole way from side to side comfortably?

Not so much. It looked as if he was perhaps correct about this one.

I decided that maybe a tape measure was in order. Side to side, the sweater measured 12":

If it's reasonably stretched, 13" or 14"--still too big for Scarlett O'Hara, but not quite big enough for me. Normally I would want it to be 19" to give me a total of 38".

In my mind, there were four options:

(1) The Wii Fit has been hard to find, so I knocked that option out right away.
(2) Frog (rip it, rip it) and reknit.
(3) Continue knitting, but then steek (cut the knitting vertically) and put in some side panels.
(4) Steek and make this part of the vest either just the front or just the back, and then knit another front or back.

I decided to wait overnight to decide. I have found that it's best sometimes to mull over a problem for a day. I was leaning toward option 2.

The next morning I woke up, and after an hour or so, I had a flash of a memory. When Alice had knit the vest, it had looked freakishly small when it was off of her. Maybe it was okay after all.

So I tried it on, and look what happened:

It was fine.

I admit I still can't quite fathom the physics of this ribbing. It seemed impossible that it should have fit. But there are some things in life that we just don't question.

Knitter's denial, for the first in my knitting life, had faked me out.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

"Work" Shop

Hi everyone! It's Cynthia here again! Before I begin today's story, I would like to announce that Kim says I may take over the blog. I am excited about this because I love writing blog entries. (Hi Mom and Dad! This is what my degree in writing is useful for!)

Besides, Kim has her own blog anyway (, where you can read thoughtful, insightful ideas on quilting (and of course my very favorite--a really neat entry on the spectacular coverlet my mother is knitting right now).

I will not promise so much thought or insight....

Today's post is all about our Friends' School quilting workshop. We do a lot of classes at our shop, but these workshops have always been among our favorites.

First of all, we like it because the school has a funhouse mirror near the bathroom. (Are you already sensing that so far there may be little or no insight from my posts?) I started my day by entertaining myself with that for a few minutes:

Time to go out and buy some new low-cut shirts!


Where was I? Oh yes! The workshop!

We try to have at least one new workshop every newsletter. It's like a big party, with a lot of people having fun together; it allows us to cook some great food for them; and it allows everyone to make good progress on a project with an entire day of sewing.

You can knit in small chunks--but for sewing, it sure is nice to carve out a day.

We did two projects this time--one was either a braided wallhanging or tablerunner, and the other was a kaleidoscope wallhanging.

I didn't get photos of everything, but I do have a lot of gorgeous work to show you from the day:

People are generally camera-shy, but I loved how Keri-Lynn's shirt matched her project, so I took her photo with her kaleidoscope. I promised her that I would not put her photo up on the blog unless it turned out well. I think you'll agree that she looks great here:

As does her kaleidoscope!

But I did not promise a certain other person any such thing:

Want to join in on the fun? We'll have another Friends' Workshop this fall. Details will be in the newsletter, which should arrive in your mailbox around the end of August.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Animal Planet, Continued

After I got done making the penguin, I decided that I had better continue on with my animal production.

You see, we have a lot of brown fur yarn in our store.

Since you have just read about the penguin, you probably have it figured out: At market, I had also insisted that we buy a lot of brown fur. There was also a new squirrel pattern, and we needed yarn for squirrel tails. "Come on, Kim!" I said. "We live in Pennsylvania. Everyone here loves squirrels! We'll sell a million of these as kits! They are soooooo cute!"

A year later, the squirrel had made just as much progress as the penguin.

Now that the penguin was done, however, I felt motivated. Home I went, to knit a squirrel. It started out much like the penguin:

There was the cute little tummy!

I thought it was starting to look kind of quizzical as I knit around on its little head:

But as I kept going, it took on a rather disturbing, lifeless look:

(Please forgive product placement. I swear I am getting no royalties from Sony.)

And by the time it had a tail, it looked .... well .... like this:

Dinner anyone? I'm knitting stew tonight.


Postscript: I did feel a little uncomfortable shooting pictures of a dead, knitted-animal squirrel as cars drove by. Especially since I kept picking up the squirrel and moving it from one side of the street to the other, to get the lighting and the angles the way I wanted them. The bottom line is, I'm not in the habit of picking up roadkill with my bare hands.

So whenever cars drove by as I moved the squirrel, I decided to distract them by waving hello! Hi, everyone!

It is a friendly neighborhood and a small town. They all waved back.

And I wondered if, after they had driven on, their brains started realizing what they had just seen.

Finale: The squirrel looked way more perky after it was felted, dried, and stuffed.

Don't cross, cute little squirrel!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Penguin Love

Cynthia writes:
Anyone who knows me knows that I like animals. I like 'em a lot; I love their spirits. That is probably why I am always wildly attracted to little stuffed, knitted animal patterns.

But it's odd: I usually don't want to knit the animals that much. Yes, when it comes to stuffed, knitted animals, I admit that I am a so-called "product knitter."

Which is why I had yarn for a penguin that had been ready to knit ever since yarn market, June 2007.


You should have seen me at market: I was embarrassing.

You see, we had just discovered the new Fiber Trends penguin pattern, and I was completely crazy over it. I had to make one. I made Kim run around with me all over the conference center, looking for the perfect yarns to make the penguin. I assured her that everyone else would also want to make one, and we could create kits.

Now, I am kind of picky about my stuffed animals. The beak color had to be just the right orange. The white had to be white enough--yet feltable--and the fur had to be fluffy--but of course not too fluffy. Kim was remarkably patient. (Although come to think of it, she did mention something about wanting to kill me; I ignored her idle threats.) We got everything I wanted. I was so, so excited.

And then the yarn and pattern sat in my office area at home.


Fast forward to July 2008.

Ever had those moments where you just get annoyed at something unfinished? And you just get it out and work on it and finish it, even though it wasn't in the game plan?

Me neither.

But this weekend, that's exactly what happened to me.

Oh, I had had big quilting plans for the weekend. Brother graduating in a few weeks, quilt not done, blah, blah, blah.

And then for the millionth time, I looked at that bag of yarn, and a strong feeling came over me: That feeling, my friends, was nothing less than a fierce determination to knit the penguin.

[Hey! I just read your mind. No, no, I was not procrastinating about making the binding on my brother's quilt. Stop thinking that. You are distracting me from the real story.]

Suddenly, and without any prior warning, I opened the bag and started knitting. I couldn't stop. Why, it was as if the penguin was knitting itself, and I was its mere instrument.

I knitted:

And knitted:

And within 2 easy days, I had a penguin:

(Note to curious techies: Despite the implications of the above photo, I use Windows Vista, not Linux.)

I put it in the wash to felt, and then I put it out on a baking rack so its back would dry evenly:

Which gave Kevin an idea:

(Settle down, settle down. He did not turn the oven on.)

I still have to stuff it and sew it closed, and perhaps add a couple of eyes--but from my point of view, this bird is done, baby. Put a fork in it.