Dixie Peach: Measure Twice. Still Screw it Up.

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Measure Twice. Still Screw it Up.

I promised you Monday that there's be no regularly scheduled Tuesday knitting talk. We're just going to do it today instead. You didn't think I was going to let you off the hook all week, did you? Yesterday was a holiday anyway. I'm running things a day late, just like they do with our trash pick-up.

First, a story:

When I was about ten years old I wanted to wrap Christmas gifts by myself. I'd watched my mother and my older sister do it so many times that I felt I could tackle it on my own. I grabbed the wrapping paper and tape and scissors, went into my bedroom and closed the door, plunked myself down on the floor and attempted to wrap the gifts I had bought.

After about an hour my sister and mother came into my room because they'd heard me making all sorts of sounds of frustration. They found me on the floor, crumpled wrapping paper strewn all around while I was bawling my eyes out.

It takes too long to explain here but the dynamics of my family were such that when things wouldn't go as I'd planned, I'd freak out. If I was opening a can and the opener would go all wobbly and skip opening parts, I'd have a melt-down. If I wasn't picked up on time so I could get somewhere I needed to be, I'd wig out. Having the gift wrapping not go as I'd planned was sending me into orbit.

What was upsetting me so much? The corners of the paper weren't perfectly straight. I'd make the corner creases and then when folding the flap of paper down to tape at the ends, there would be an ever so slight gap or wrinkle. It wasn't just right so I'd snatch the paper off if frustration and start again. After wrapping the same package four or five times I was in an absolute lather over it.

Naturally my mother and sister asked me what had me in such a state and when I tearfully explained that I wanted to wrap gifts like them but I couldn't do it, they didn't understand. What I was holding looked like a wrapped gift to them. This caused me to get the crying jag revved up again because LOOK. AT. THE. CORNERS! They're not perfectly straight! There's a crinkle there at the corner!

My memory is that my sister laughed her ass off at me at that point and had I been her I probably would have too. I was flipping out over nothing. Wrapped packages usually do have that tiny crinkle at the corner. My mother then brought to me a package that she wrapped and showed me that what I'd done was actually better than what she'd accomplished. In reality I was doing a better job than them but since my idea of a well wrapped package was something like what I'd see on TV, I was losing my mind over it.

I stopped freaking out over that little imperfection and afterwards became the designated gift wrapper in the family because I did the best job at it. It didn't permanently cure my losing my shit when things do go as I planned but I stopped foaming at the mouth over gift wrapping errors.

Which brings me to the Jaywalker socks I'm knitting for my dear friend, Karen.

I've been taking forty-nine forevers to finish this sock, mostly because I can't be arsed to do anything right now that I really don't have to do and because I'm working on the not-as-super-secret-anymore knitting project as well. Last night I was to the toe decreases which generally means I have about an hour of knitting left.

I keep my yarn in a yarn bra that's really just a piece of tricot bandage that I've tied a knot in at one end. It keeps the yarn clean and from getting all tangled and covered in dog hair. Unfortunately it also keeps me from noticing anything unusual about the yarn since I can't see the ball so when looked inside and saw that I was nearly out of yarn, I started to get a little antsy.

At this point I could do three things - rip the sock back to the leg and knit the leg shorter, frog the entire sock and start from scratch or pray that I had more yarn than it appeared that I had. I started praying and figured another hour of knitting and being wrong was better than tearing apart 15 hours of knitting and it not have been necessary.

On this sock the grafting to close the toe is done after there are 28 stitches left in total. At the part where I had 32 stitches left I was thisclose to being fresh out of yarn. Now I had to decide on whether to give up, do the decreases and see where I was then, add yarn from another skein now (which I'd want to avoid at all since if I was running out of yarn on this sock, I'd run out of yarn on its mate as well if I did everything the same) or just skip the last decreases and close the toe a bit early and hope that it wouldn't look too boxy and I'd have just enough yarn to finish the grafting.

I'm the sort of person who, if I were on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, would go ahead and answer the question even if I was only 50% sure and had run out of jokers. You know I was going to close up that toe and hope I had just enough yarn left to do it.

And I didn't.

I know you non-knitters can't relate to this but let me just say that if you're going to do grafting you need to have enough yarn before you start. It's possible to add new yarn in at the beginning but it's not the best way to do it. Adding yarn when you're halfway finished is an even goofier idea. I'd attached the new yarn to the old piece via a slip knot and frankly it looked like a monkey had a go at the grafting but I got the toe closed and somehow got the wonky bits hidden.

Here's the sock:

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It looks fine, doesn't it? From this distance it looks like a perfectly normal sock. However, just like with the corners of the wrapped Christmas packages, the toe isn't perfect. It's boxier than it should be and there's a sort of dip where I attached the two strands of yarn and on the underside I tried to minimize any lumpy bits but I'm half afraid that when Karen washes them the whole thing may all come apart.

I suppose over the last thirty five years I've learned not to freak if stuff doesn't go just as planned. When I get stuck in traffic I don't beat my head on the steering wheel. If I miss my train I don't scream. I still get a little flippy if cans don't open properly but I don't spend five minutes afterwards beating my fists on the counter. This sock didn't turn out as planned and while I didn't have a hissy fit over it I just don't have it in me to rip it out and start it again.

Of course I now have a new problem. I've got to knit its mate from a skein of discontinued yarn from which I've cut ten inches. Ten inches that I likely can't afford to lose because I didn't have enough yarn for the first sock and that means the second skein probably won't either. Looks like I'm going to have to knit the leg a bit shorter on the mate.

Karen, I'm sorry your socks won't be perfect, sweetie. Wear 'em under pants and tall boots.

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Blogger Sheila said...

This is hilariously funny to me. Just now, literally, I finished wrapping a birthday present for my sister. The paper wasn't quite long enough... I stared at it for a while and said, "What the hell, she's just going to rip it open anyhow!" If the present had been for anyone else, I would of completely started over!

12:38 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

The sock is beautiful! truly!


6:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pfft. Perfectionist. Yes, I'm pointing at you. That sock looks fine! I wish I could knit socks like that. Seriously, the toe is going to be inside the shoe. Deep inside the shoe. Therefore the most important part is the ankle which is in full public view. And gf, that ankle is lovely. You did a nice job.

8:48 AM  

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