The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Shawl That Would Not Be Knitted

Okay, so it's kinda getting knitted. But here's the scoop: I went to Knit for Life last night, as I am wont to do on Mondays. I took out the shawl and started on the next row. Talking as I knitted (I know. It's hard to believe.). About halfway through (cue suspenseful music) I began to suspect that the count might be off. It was supposed to be knit 8, yo, knit 3 and it just didn't look as though the knit 8's were centering themselves over the previously knitted bells (it's a bell pattern). Now, a sensible person might have thought to stop then. Indeed, an only slightly reasonable person might have drawn the same conclusion. But my train of thought went something like this: "I think it might not be right...but the pattern has so many yo's and ktbl and k4tog, that I really have no idea how many stitches should be on the needle.....okay, yes, I could just stop and count the k3 yo k8 sequences....but it's probably okay, right? Sure, I'll just keep going." Yeah, I know. The next time I have a thought, I really should lie down and let it pass. But I kept on knitting and, what a surprise, the end of the row was supposed to be a k7 and I had just 6 stitches left. So I had to tink back the entire row. No biggie, really, but for 2 facts: 1) the loose gauge combined with the k4tog's a couple of rows down was a recipe for disaster and 2) I was still talking while knitting. So I reknit the row....and discovered that I'd dropped a couple of stitches far enough down to undo the k4tog's and now had to scramble frantically with a crochet hook and NOT swear (I'm a hospital volunteer, remember, and really don't want to be tossed out over a bit of knitting language). I did this. Still talking. It wasn't until starting the next row that I realized I had done all of my yo's backwards. No, don't ask me how. I have absolutely no idea. The end of the story is that I knitted on that shawl for 2 hours....and it still looks pretty much the same. I knit because......oh yeah. I love it. I do. I'm sure I do.

In a shameless attempt to distract you from the above mentioned knitting debacle (think Vinzini in The Princess Bride: "What is that great THING??"), I offer the handsomest cat in the world:

This is Ed (originally "Fast Eddie"). He is a stepcat, one of three belonging to Hubby when we met. Hubby and I are on opposite sides of the cat issue--I think they need to be indoors where they can be safe; he thinks they need to be outdoors where they can be useful. But, being the loving couple that we are (and given a few lengthy discussions on the matter) we effected a compromise: the stepcats live outside, my own live inside, and all is well. (For those of you who worry as I do about outdoor cats, the stepcats have a cat door into a heated garage, are allowed into the house any time they want to come in, and we live on a deadend street with no traffic.) Ed, despite the laid back appearance above, has the hunting skill and instincts of your average cougar (if memory serves, the photo was taken within a few moments of Ed hitting the nip fairly hard). He seems convinced that Hubby and/or I are starving, and attempts to remedy this on a regular basis with gifts of shrews, voles, mice, wood rats, snakes, frogs, and whatever else doesn't move quickly enough. I suspect that our persistent refusal of his gifts has only made him believe that we are too stupid to eat them without help; thus, he has taken to separating them into pieces for us. Now, part of the above-mentioned Cat Compromise states that Hubby is responsible for removing any and all crime scenes created by the three hairy serial killers in our garage (the other part is that I get to clean the litter box for the indoor kids but this task, unpleasant though it may be, involves absolutely no tiny body parts or other ick, so I'm good with that). However, Ed has started to deliver his gifts while Hubby is at work, and there's really only so many times I can step over a mouse part on my porch, so naturally I become CSI and handle the body (parts) myself (I can't prove it, but I suspect that Hubby may be bribing Ed with good quality nip.....).

Anyway, there was a point to all this (other than Ed being a truly stunning and wonderful cat, his body dumping behaviors aside). I took some classes this summer, including Algebra. One fine summer morning, the teacher was going on at some length about the importance of rounding correctly when doing story problems so that the answers made sense. "For instance", she said, "problem number 1 is concerned with temperature. It is reasonable to have a temperature of, say, 45.7 degrees, so you needn't round to an integer. However, problem 7 is about numbers of birds. Since it doesn't make sense to have a fraction of a bird, this answer needs to be a whole number."

You know those moments, when you KNOW you're going to say something, KNOW it's going to come out of your mouth, absolutely KNOW that your internal sensor is somewhere inspecting her manicure and has no interest at all in saving you--AND YOU CAN'T DO A THING TO STOP IT? Yeah, that was me. I knew it was coming. I could feel it. And, sure enough, I heard it come out of my mouth, loud enough for the entire class to hear: "Nonsense", I said. "I find fractions of birds on my porch all the time."

Amazingly, I got an A in that class. I'm pretty sure that little note about the A being dependent on my never darkening her classroom door again was just a joke.

I blame Ed for this one.


  • At 1:42 AM, Anonymous mardi said…

    Forgive the audacity, but I just have to ask a question - I'm knitting a "shell" pattern which seems very similar to your "bell" pattern in that it requires one to k4tog. I'm kniting with baby yarn and #2 needles, and tbhe only way I can get the needle through to do the k4tog is to knit off my #2 onto a #5 for the row previous to the k4togs and then knit back onto the #2, making the k4togs with the smaller needle in the large stitches. I'm not a tight knitter, and yet I could not for the life of me get he #2 through those frickin' stitches. How do you cope??

  • At 6:00 AM, Anonymous Marianne said…

    Ed is indeed one handsome puss.
    I always found the teachers appreciating wit such as yours.

  • At 11:01 AM, Blogger Ms. Knitingale said…

    Mardi, I tried e-mailing you directly but it bounced back. Don't worry-you're not a bit audacious! Are you kidding? I hate all those k4tog and, worse, k4tog tbl (somewhere, a knitting designer is laughing maniacally and rubbing his/her hands together with vicious glee). My shawl is knit with fingering weight alpaca on #5 Denise circs. The larger needles probably does make it a bit easier; still, I wish I'd used addis for the sharper point. What kind of needle are you using? You might want to try an addis if you're not. The yarn makes a difference, too (the alpaca is pretty slippery compared to say, cotton), although it's clearly too late to change that. Failing that, make a batch of my brownies, soothe your soul with chocolate, and acknowledge that profanity may be your constant companion until the darned thing is done. But let me know how it turns out--I'd love to see the finished pic!

  • At 1:20 PM, Blogger Kari said…

    I linked over from yarn harlot
    Good luck on the shawl. It looks like it will be very nice when it is finished. I've messed up a sweater because the guage was way off...and it looked funny yet i kept on knitting...i guess i've learned to try to correct mistakes asap.
    Cute cat!
    And LOL on the comment about the birds being fractions.

  • At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Marianne said…

    Thanks for dropping by (it's always a thrill when someone new stops in).
    I hear that KnitPick's new needles have sharper points (yay), I've been patiently waiting for mine to arrive in the post. Stephanie was talking about hers a couple of posts ago, she had just gotten hers and apparently loves them because of the points.
    BTW, the brownies sound divinely sinful.


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