Sunday, July 17, 2005

Drinks on the house

The complete knitting basket

Arrrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh…snark, grumble accompanied by the gnashing of teeth, the clinking of ice cubes and the pouring of gin.

Plop, plop; fizz, fizz. Oh, what a relief it is…that would be the sound of ice cubes hitting tonic water, for those of you with the misguided belief that Alka-Selzer actually does anything for those of us having knitting moments.

The problem? The problem, you ask? The problem would be that it is hotter than the hubs of hell and I’m knitting with wool. I’m knitting a wool shawl because it’s the best way I can think of to sooth my savaged nerves. And the root, the cause, the prime mover of the thing proving most irksome in the OddBall Universe? Why, my darlings, that would be the knitting machine.

“Oh, what the hell is She whinging on about now?” I can hear the mutterings of the Assembled Masses (all 12 of you) now. Yes, I know. I’m being very whiny but I’ve had the knitting machine in my house for all of 3 days now and I’m **NOT** an expert yet. (Cue the gasps of horror from the Assembled Masses). There you have it -- the OddBall is not an Expert of All Things Textile.
The knitting machine has been a humbling experience in truth, a confession sure to bring a smile to the many who think I’ve needed to be brought down a peg or two for some time now. I’m used to being an ‘advanced knitter’. I tackle patterns with abandon and modify as I’m on the fly. But the machine…ahhhhhh, the machine… she is a thing of some complexity.

I had heard before I bought the machine the machine knitting was an entirely different sport than hand knitting. In the past few days, that reality has been brought home to me. I’ve gone from being an expert knitter, or at least an extremely advanced, highly technically competent knitter to an utter beginner. Remember your first knitting experiences? If you’re like me, you had visions of Aran sweaters whilst trying to keep from strangling yourself with the yarn as you managed to make it through a dishcloth without too many extra holes. Even if I did finish the beginner project with a minimum of mistakes, I never derived any satisfaction from these efforts. To my eye, even at age 6, they were ‘baby’ crap and I wanted to make the ‘big girl’ stuff -- like lace tableclothes and intricately cabled cardigan sweaters. My Nana was an expert knitter and I consoled my lack of skill with the comfort that someday I would be as good a knitter as her, if only I persevered. And, sure enough, eventually my skill level advanced to match my design eye.

I feel like I’m six again. I have all this stuff in my head but still no means by which to execute it. And unlike when I was six, and surrounded by very competent knitters, I feel very ‘on my own’. Mentally, I don’t understand what it is I’m doing with the machine. I haven’t developed that instinctive sense of how to navigate from ‘design idea’ to ‘execution’ to ‘final product’. The advantage to being 40+, over being six, is that I know that this is a process. It’s going to take me the best part of a year to learn how to use that knitting machine as well as I use the ‘sticks’. So, instead of cracking myself around the head and shoulders over the issue, I’m going to take the next year to learn how to use it. I’ve got a few ‘baby’ projects that will utterly freaking annoy me from a design perspective but will serve to enforce my sense of what I’m doing on the machine. Baby steps, baby steps.

For you fanatics who think the fabric is what this is about...

In the meanwhile, before the damn knitting machine drives me to drink (ooops, too late!!), I started a new shawl. The sticks in hand and my beloved Briggs & Little running between my fingers is very soothing, in spite of the hotter than the hubs of Hell weather we’re enjoying. Even ripping the damn thing back three times has had very little impact on my sense of serenity.

Well, that’s the news from the exceedingly humid Maritimes. Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.


At 2:22 p.m., July 18, 2005, Anonymous Karin said...

I was wondering where you'd been. Now I know - in an alchoholic haze! All kidding aside, its humbling being a baby again, isn't it? I had a similar experience when I purchased my serger a few years ago. Not quite the same as sticks vs. a knitting machine, since a sewing machine and serger are still both machines, but they do such different things. And, of course, I wanted to do EVERYTHING on the serger, which is just not recommended, if even possible. So, have fun with the year of learning, old girl.

Oh, and quit your whinging about the heat. I just looked at the environment Canada site. Fredericton is a mere 27C, 35C with humidity. We're at 29C with a humidex of 40C!!! And it will get warmer. The humidex was in the low 40's last week. This is at least our 3rd major heat wave since the beginning of June. And although we have A/C and an above ground pool, our hydro bills are about to double because of those ........leaving less moola for yarn purchases, which is the real tragedy.

At 4:19 p.m., July 18, 2005, Blogger Kate, the Odd Ball Knitter said...

Well, actually, I was born in southern Ontario (Trenton) and my grandmother lived in Alymer all her life.

Down here in the Maritimes, we like to think we're smarter than putting up with weather like what you all do in southern Ontario. And seriously, you have my sympathies. I have memories of that heat and humidity -- we lived 4 years in Borden in the late 60s.

I can also remember my father and I hiding in my grandmother's root cellar on the farm all day. We'd take a stack of books and you wouldn't see either of us until sundown. I still don't eat when it's like that. Unfit for man nor beast is my way of thinking.

At 4:45 p.m., July 18, 2005, Anonymous Karin said...

My sister in Vancouver just keeps chuckling....and wonders why we just don't pick up and move. Of course, the house prices out there are even more ridiculous than Toronto, so its out of the question. Plus uprooting kids, plus jobs etc. etc. We'll just keep complaining. Out east, you guys get the extreme winter weather, although I don't recall how Frederiction usually fares, I do remember some pretty nasty stuff happening in NS and parts of NB, at the very least. And in Vancouver, summer only started yesterday and is virtually over by now.

Although I'm eating a bit less, I still manage to eat...nothing much stops me!....while hubby is loosing a ton of weight (that he doesn't even need to loose) at the new, much more physical, and in the heat, job. Sigh.

Pass the ice cream, will ya?

At 9:12 p.m., July 18, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I need a knitting machine so I have an excuse to be in a drunken stupor! Well, I'm not saying that you're in one, but I know I certainly would be. I do love affords one the opportunity to drink before noon!

At 1:51 a.m., July 19, 2005, Blogger Dudleyspinner's Tie Dye Rovings said...

I have had the knitting weights drop on my toes a few times! I am still of the mind that the Prolific Knitting machine, by Catherine Cartwright -Jones has the idea, you knit and then sew the sweater together either by grafting, or on a machine. She uses short rows for shaping as well. I will watch with anticipation your progress.

At 9:29 p.m., July 19, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've just been tagged. Check out my blog. I can't wait to read your funny answers.

At 1:08 a.m., July 20, 2005, Blogger Radona said...

Been missing reading for awhile and yet I come back and you are still cracking me up! Too funny! I struggled with my machine too, but you will get the hang of it! I really just love the feel of the needles and the act of sitting on the couch with whatever my project is laying in my lap and feeling the yarn and smelling the yarn and.... oh, yeah, back to you, you are going to be fine! Keep on practicing and before you know it you will be a wiz!


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