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I’ve entered the world of Pattern Improvisation. 

My friend Kari is amazing.  She can improvise almost any pattern.  And she has a great attitude about it:

Don’t have that kind of yarn?  Who cares?!  This is pretty–let’s try it.

Only seem to find a different size needle?  No big deal, use it!   It’ll all work out. 

Did that pretty green hat end up too big? 

The Green "Hat"
The Green “Hat”

No problem, let’s just make it into–oh yeah–a hula skirt for the husband.  Yes!  That would work just fine. 

Counting stitches?  Excuse me what did you say?  Counting?  Huh?  Hmmm.  HA HA HA HA!  You were joking weren’t you?  Where’s the fun in that?  Ooh look, there’s something shiny over there…

She’s one of those knitters–those carefree knitters–happy happy happy.  (And incidentally, I think she’s awesome, even as I tease her!)

Happy Kari
Happy Kari

Now, me on the other hand, I’m a Type-A, by-the-book, follow the pattern, rip-it-out-if-you-made-a-mistake-ten-inches-ago (I’ll know that mistake is there!), tight-gripped, jaw-clenched, do-the-math, get it right, perfectionist, kind of knitter. 

Let’s just say, we’ve balanced each other out…

So Kari, bless her widdle heart, will be thinking, well how nice for you, Shannon, that you’re finally relaxing a bit with this knitting adventure. 

But to me, improvising is mucho stressful.  Did I say Mucho? 

It all started when I lost , misplaced, surely my husband is somehow to blame for the fact that this book is not where I remember it–my World’s Greatest Sock Book.  I love this book by Ann Budd.

getting-started-knitting-socks

I learned to knit socks using this book and every time a sock pattern seems kinda squirrely, this is my go-to book of help. 

So when I started knitting N’s socks on the magic loop, you know, the ones I started five times, I figured I could get details I needed from my Awesome Sock Book.  I needed the help because I was using different yarn and size needles than the pattern called for (very rare and scary for me, but I am under the mandate of No More Yarn!  So I am using what I have).  Now the Awesome Book doesn’t really help with circular knitting, but it’s great about explaining the heel flap and heel turn very specifically.  I figured I could figure out the ribbing, but once it came to that heel turn, I’d need a bit of a primer. 

So, fearlessly knitting away, I work on my little sock, getting ready to head into the flap and the infamous heel turn and–wouldn’t you know–I couldn’t find that stinking–I mean awesome–book ANYWHERE.

Complicate this with the fact that we had to head out of town, so I had no Awesome Book, no internet access to knittinghelp.com, no lifeline to call.  All I had is the pattern with the Way Wrong Information, and some folded patterns in the bottom of my knitting bag. 

Just before despair set in (if I didn’t figure this thing out I was going to be sitting for HOURS in a hospital waiting room with NO KNITTING–subject of another post), I got Determined not to let that stinking sock beat me! 

So I MacGiver’d parts of several patterns together and with my own considerably puny expertise, managed to turn that heel without an Actual Pattern or Actual Instructions!  I do have photos, but my camera has pooped out, presumably due to sympathy-stress from my Improvisation Ordeal, so the photos will have to wait until we’re both recharged.

But still–WOO HOO!  Very exciting to have crossed over into the world of Improvisation Knitting.  Not necessarily relaxing and enjoyable the way Kari would do it–but exciting to rise to the challenge nonetheless. 

Confession:  I’m relieved to be back to the pattern now, however.  Enjoying myself much more, and really looking forward to that Kitchener stitch at the end.  (I have issues.  I know.)

 

 

 

 

 

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I love making socks.  But with all the hassle-bassle-rassle-snassle we’ve been going through lately, I hadn’t had a chance to start a new project. 

Well, the hassle isn’t over, but I decided to go for it and try some socks for N in the Online Supersocke yarn that she had picked out ages ago. 

Tried with size 1’s.  Didn’t look right.  Riiiippp.  Frog.  (Ribbit.)

Tried with size 3’s.  Too big.  Too weird looking.  Riiiiippp.  Frog.  (Ribbit, ribbit.)

Looked for size 2’s.  Grrrr.  Nope.  No size 2’s.  While that might at some point merit an Excuse To Go To My LYS at some point in the future, it wasn’t helping me right then. 

Then I stumbled upon dipladyknits, and it appears Shanda was not having the splitting, nasty experience with her Very Same Yarn.   She was great about responding to my comments to her post, and inspired by Shanda the diplady, I decided to go back to the size 1’s. 

After a couple more false starts (don’t you hate getting those stitches twisted or dropping stitches really early on), I finally started zipping along, and was in The Zone.

So here it is–(Take 5) the beginning of N’s sock.  On size 1 addi turbo lace 34″ cable–magic loop method. 

 ns-sock-leg-almost-done

I do love the magic loop–so easy peasy, never dropping those stinking giant toothpicks (a.k.a. double pointed needles) or knitting onto the wrong needle and having to tink (knit backwards one stitch at a time) back the mangled mess to get it back on the right needle! 

And it does fit N’s foot (well, leg), so all is well for now.

More pics later as the masterpiece progresses.

One thing I’ve appreciated more and more this year is the value of being still and making things with my hands–especially with my children.  I think back to the times I sat with my grandmother while she knitted and with my mother while she made amazingly creative things for our home.  These are some of the best memories I share with these great ladies. 

grandma-hands   (photo credit)

 

It’s made me even more determined to be a memory-maker this year with my daughters. 

Last year I penned a list of observations and life lessons I learned through knitting–but they apply to sewing, crochet, and probably just about any other endeavor where you get to create something with raw supplies, some basic tools, your love, and your hands:

Sometimes more is gained from slowing down than from running harder.

Every big project starts with that first stitch.

Take time to spend with your parents and grandparents and children in a quiet, “agenda-free” setting.  Those are the times you’ll remember most when they’re not with you.

Things worth having are worth working for.

A teensy slip-up, ignored and not fixed, can turn into a great big hole and a nasty mess down the road.

It’s easier to fix a problem right away than to wait until later.

If something’s a real mess, sometimes it’s best to rip it out and start over from the beginning.

Enjoy both your results and every stitch of the journey to get there.

Finish well.

Homemade really is better.

Read the instructions.

Don’t panic when you realize you’ve messed up.  Stay calm and think it through and you’re on the way to fixing the problem.

Listen to advice from those that know more than you.

When Grandma says, “I can fix it, honey,”  chances are she really can.

When God said He knit you together in your mother’s womb, He didn’t use a knitting machine.  He did it stitch by stitch, purposefully and full of love.  And He didn’t make a single mistake.  (Here’s where He said that.)

For the original post, you can click here.

Happy 2009!

I am in love.  True love.  It’s okay–even though I am a married woman.  You see, I am in love with a skein of yarn.  Not just any yarn, mind you.  The Most Beautiful Yarn in the World. 

I saw this yarn a month or so ago at a cute little yarn shop where my friend Kari and I took a sock class.  Just looking at it is like beholding a work of art.  Seriously.  Gorgeous. 

No.  I’m not selling it to anyone.  Indeed, I am not even sharing the location of this fabulous fiber, because I don’t want anyone else to buy it either.  You can’t buy it.  Please don’t buy it. 

See, I cannot buy it.  I just cannot.  It is Not In Our Budget.  Truly, it’s outrageously priced, but it’s also  outrageously beautiful yarn (can you hear the rationalization?).  So I have exercised self-control, even to the extent of telling my husband how much the yarn costs.  Naturally, the amazing specimen has now become contraband.  No way is it coming into my house now, baby. 

But I do go and visit it from time to time.  Really, I mean it.  It’s still there on the shelf, waiting for me.  Last time I was there I took a picture to share it with you. 

I told you so.

Yarn rookie that I am, I didn’t even write down the name from the tag to share it with you.  I’ll get it on my next visit and let you know then.

Oh yes, and I’ve resisted the urge to hide the poor thing on the bottom of the stack toward the back of the shelf so someone with a champagne budget couldn’t have it either.  I mean this yarn deserves to be knitted into something beautiful. 

But for now, I still have my visits to look forward to.  *Sigh*

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