A science geek and knitter talks about random stuff.

Archive for the ‘Knitting Rants’ Category

The Threat of Knitting

Posted by knitpicking on 13 June 2007

I know that knitting is not a very common pastime, so I have come to expect a bit of reaction from people when I’m knitting in public. The response generally falls into two categories:

  1. Excited interest. The people who exhibit this behavior are invariably knitters themselves.
  2. Polite curiosity. The people in this category generally look like a combination of amused and befuddled, like they’re inwardly saying, “Wow, people still knit?” or “What is she doing with those sticks and string?” They usually smile and go on about their business.

I have now encountered a third reaction: thoroughly frightened.

I was sitting in the waiting room at my orthodontist’s office, knitting peacefully on my sock while I waited my turn. Across the room was a mother and her daughter, who appeared to be about 6 or 7. (I found out later that they were waiting for their older daughter/sister to get done with her adjustment). The mom took a look at what I was doing, then looked at me with an expression akin to one you might have if you found yourself face-to-face with Freddy Krueger. The fear then morphed into a sort of disgusted look, as if knitting was a deviant act that should only be done in the privacy of one’s home between consenting needles and yarn. She then (and this is the part that stunned me) grabbed up her kid and moved to the farthest point in the room from me.

I’ve had some time to mull this incident over, and I still can’t make any sense of it. What is so threatening about knitting? Did she think her child would be scarred for life from exposure to knitting? That she might find out too soon how baby sweaters are made?

One thing I did find amusing was that the daughter was singing along to the song “This Is Why I’m Hot”, which was playing on the radio. Not exactly wholesome, even when heavily edited. So knitting is terrible but songs about clubbing and promiscuous sex are perfectly fine?

(Oh, and in case you’re curious, apparently Mims is hot because he’s fly, and “you ain’t ’cause you not.”) Nice.

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Dear Sock

Posted by knitpicking on 4 June 2007

I want to love you. I really do.

I remember when I saw the yarn that was to become you. It was last Christmas, and I was home visiting my parents. My mother, knowing my love of yarn, took me to a lovely yarn shop. It was the first time I had ever seen Lorna’s Laces sock yarn in real life, and I fell in love instantly.

Sunday night, as I cast you on , I had high hopes that this was going to be the best pair of socks in the history of ever. I had done all of the calculations to ensure that you would fit perfectly. We were destined to live a happy life together.

And then things went wrong. I’ll admit that it is partly my fault. Due to my phenotypic uniqueness, I have to make concessions that others need not worry about. My short stature and weirdly athletic legs mean that if I knit the leg with the same number of stitches all the way down, I get sags at the ankles. But I was not afraid, because I had read Knitting Rules! All I needed to do was decrease a few stitches as I approached the ankle.

So I decreased 4 stitches. I was getting 8 stitches per inch, and about a half an inch was all I needed to take up the slack. I then merrily proceeded along with you, turning the heel and racing along the foot. I even stopped to take a picture of you:

I even posed you with the book, in hopes that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s sock-knitting mojo might rub off on you.

Then I tried you on. A simple decrease of 4 stitches had made you too tight for my ankles, despite the fact that my ankles are a full 2 inches smaller than where the cuff falls. Why? I don’t understand. I’m a scientist, and I can’t wrap my head around why 4 stitches made you too tight.

As you no doubt know, you have been ripped back significantly since the above picture was taken. I’m going to try again, because I have invested so much time in you and can see your great potential. I ask only that you try to work with me to become the fabulous sock that I know you can be.


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The Swatch Failed Me

Posted by knitpicking on 11 July 2006

I was at one of the local craft stores the other day, and I came across some wonderful, yummy alpaca yarn. It is a rare thing indeed to find anything but the run-of-the-mill acrylic yarn and tacky novelty yarns in such a place, so I was compelled to buy a couple of balls. I had a vision of a wonderful pair of socks that could be made from such loveliness.

As a dutiful knitter, I whipped up a little swatch before starting. I counted my gauge, cast on the required number of stitches, and went to town. I was knitting merrily along, making great time, while watching Countdown with Keith Olbermann. When the show was over, I looked down and realized, to my horror, that I was two-thirds of the way through making the largest sock in the world. This thing could easily fit Bigfoot.

Now, I would feel duly chastized by the experience if I had not knitted a swatch beforehand. But I did knit one. I checked and double-checked the gauge before beginning. I re-checked it after I had realized the enormity of the sock in question. The math was right, but the swatch clearly had a tighter gauge than the sock. There is no reason for this, and it clearly goes against The Order of Things.

Well, now that I had committed to making one huge sock, I decided to finish the pair. The good thing about socks is that no matter what size you make, you can find someone you know who can wear them. But that still didn’t stop the feeling that each and every stitch of the second sock was mocking me, like Nelson from The Simpsons and his sing-song “Ha Ha”.

Now I have to go back and buy more yarn to make some socks that actually fit my feet. I will not be defeated by wonky Sock Physics.

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