Sweaters and Novels

I have a couple of confessions to make.

The first of which is that I’m not a very good knitter.

Nice people will protest– people who have received my knitting as gifts will protest the loudest– but the fact is, when Rance from Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur Bearing Critters said, “My knitting is simple,” those were my words. In the stories, Jeremy Bunny is the one who knits the cables and the lace, who tries the new techniques and the spiffy sweater construction. Jeremy teaches himself to become a master knitter–and I wish I could be like him, but I’m not. And that leads me to the second confession which is–

I have more knitting pattern books and magazines than should be allowed by law.

Now, some of them I have used and have followed the techniques and actually produced a thing of value that even looked like the picture.

But nobody can knit ALL THE THINGS. Nobody. Even if I just knit ONE from every pattern book–well, I wouldn’t have time to write, sleep, eat, or parent. And my hands would be falling off at the wrist.

So I do what a lot of people do.  I study the items in the books and magazines, and think, “How is that made? How IS that made? HOW is that made?”  And then I get it all fixed in my head.    

And then I lose the pattern book, and dammit, who has time to find one book in at least a thousand and that leads me to the next flaw in my knitting.

I hate reading patterns. 

I mean I can read patterns, and I have proof on this very blog that I frequently make things that do require patterns. I’ve helped other people read patterns, and I’m actually not bad at it.

I just don’t like doing it myself.

Which is another reason I’m not a very good knitter.

Because–and this is my final confession–I LOVE to deconstruct an item and try to figure out what the pattern was just by casting on.

Mate calls this “Use the Force” knitting, and I have to admit– this phrase tickles me more than it probably should–but it’s true.

I think, “I want a raglan sweater and I want it about this big and I want it to use up all my scraps.”

And then I cast on.

And I’ve done that twice, and they’ve both been sweaters for Squishie that are both HUGE (because I never remember where to pit — and yes, I use that as a verb, meaning, “To stop increasing the yoke of the sweater and make the damned armpit”– and highly colorful.

Although, I have to admit, she picked out the colors of this last one herself.

So this sweater I just finished (and that desperately needs blocking it possibly will never get, because Squishie wants to wear it tomorrow on the last day before Christmas) was a product of me casting on random yarns and going, “I think what I do is… THIS.”

And then making it so.

I cannot explain to you what it means to me when that sort of thing pans out.      

For example, the dragon scale mittens– everyone remember those? Yup. That’s how I made them. That’s how I developed my hat pattern and the Stanley Scarf pattern and pretty much every pattern I’ve every written.

“I want a thing that does THIS.”

I’m just lucky people will wear the thing that does that thing– it’s been a blessing, really.

And, honestly, the same thing goes for writing.

I know some people outline.

Some people study and structure.

Some people look at bestsellers and make notes of what they do.

I sit down and say, “I want a thing that does THIS.”

Now, when Squishie was picking out colors for her sweater, no amount of, “But, uhm, do you really want neon sleeves with a pastel body?” could make her change her mind.

And often, no amount of someone telling ME that, say, killing off both the leads doesn’t make for a happy reader, can make ME change MY mind.

And I know the difference– the books that are more written to pattern sell well, so I try to do more of those.

But every now and then, I have to pick up my word processor and my barely functioning squirrel brain, and say, “I want a thing that does THIS.”

And then, whether it sells or not, I can be inordinately proud of this thing I made without a pattern that does the thing it’s supposed to.

But I need to be aware that just like the sweater, that piece of writing is very much to the taste of the individual, and not necessarily the world.

Anyway– now that I’ve made THAT deep realization, a few things have occurred to me.

One is that I have not yet shared the wrap that my friend Karen Rose made me, to help replace the one Mate put in the drier last year– so here’s that, and my EXTREME happiness can probably be seen through the squint against the sun.

The other is that Christmas and Hanukkah will have happened when I’m taking my blog break, so I should DEFINITELY wish happy holidays to everyone.

May your knitting and baking and wrapping get done, and may your family have moments of happiness and peace. May you all enjoy the blessings of each other in good health, and may you get safely wherever your travels take you. May you experience a moment of profound gratitude for blessings, and a moment of extreme hope to assuage your fears. May the coming year bring healing to your wounds, be they emotional, spiritual, political, or material.

May you endeavor to do good in the world, and may your heart grow stronger thus.

And on that note, I’ll leave you with a picture of Squish singing (or in this case, frowning, because she didn’t feel well) with her choir.

They were singing “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” in rounds.  It was lovely.

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