Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Knitters of Delicate Sensibilities, Look Away Now!

Well, into every life a little rain must fall. And you were all getting pretty fed up with me - seeing my existence as one constant round of parties with leprechauns followed by orgies of indulgence in yarn sheds. Fine for her, you mutter as you trudge through the daily misery of on-tap Joanns, Michaels, LYSs with nice friendly staff, local fibre festivals and special events, laden shelves in the craft section of your local bookshop. All she has to do, you snarl, is click her fingers and unique yarns appear out of nowhere, and good-looking farmers too.

What I am about to reveal will shatter that illusion (never a very good one anyway I have to say, hauling my wellies out of the mud on the third successive day of unending downpours). And in the spirit of those knowing newscasters who intone seriously, 'The following report contains images that may prove distressing to some viewers', I warn you that you aren't going to like it. In fact some of you may have to dash for the powder room. It's not nice. It's not pretty. But it's life in the raw in West Cork and I think you have a right to know. (Well actually, you don't have a right to know but I feel like making you know about it, OK? Any problems with that? You at the back? Right. Sit down then.)

You remember of course that I have signed up for the Red Sweater KAL. In joy and anticipation I singled out the Alice Starmore Eriskay gansey and brought out from its ivory tower my cherished cone of very fine scarlet cashmere. I swatched up a teensy bit and showed it to you. Here it is again, in case you'd forgotten how beautiful and how fine it actually was.



Some of you made jokes about embroidery thread, others calculated the probable length of time it would take to finish the Eriskay. Others contented themselves with laughing quietly. It didn't matter. It was such a softly beautiful cashmere that one should not expect quick and easy results. This sort of quality demands time, and probably some suffering.

Ah yes, suffering. This evening I went upstairs to look at the swatch again. I'd put it on the windowsill in the sitting room pending the arrival of the correct (appallingly fine) gauge of circulars from one of my dear blogging friends in the New World.

The door was ajar. Alarm bells - it shouldn't have been. I've been keeping that door tightly shut for the past couple of months. I pushed it open and went in. It was dusk. I switched on the light.



I didn't scream. I didn't yell. I think in fact all my breath came out in one gasp of utter despairing disbelief. I sank to my knees. Tenderly I started to gather up the pathetic scraps. But Muffy wasn't having any of that.



'It's mine!', she roared. 'My yarn. You go get your own. Leave me be!'

I sat back on my heels and tried to get my brain round this catastrophe. You know how when something like that happens you just can't believe it. You think you somehow haven't come into the right scene - it's all a mistake. You'll wake up in a minute and everything will be like it was before.

Only it wasn't. The sad little shreds (if any proof were needed that this was one hundred per cent pure cashmere, not a trace of nylon binder in sight, it was alas amply shown here, with each tiny scrap torn from its moorings and pulverised beyond hope of recovery) lay around Muffy's growlingly protective presence. She picked up one or two lengths carefully in her teeth and tucked them under her paws where they'd be safe from my grasping hands. Then she looked up at me with huge clear brown eyes and suddenly I heard her. I swear I heard what she was saying.



'Did I do it right, Mamma? Am I a good knitter too? Am I as good as the Yarn Harlot and all the others? Will you tell everyone about me on your weblog? Am I the best?'

Yes, Muffy. You're the best. Forgive me for thinking a few yards of cashmere mattered more than a small dog who wanted to please me by trying to learn this strange knitting hobby too. Nothing matters more than the light in your eyes as you look for approval.

And yes, I will tell everyone about you on my weblog. (I will also, however, put the remainder of the cone of cashmere on a very high shelf indeed. I might even do my knitting up there.)

31 comments:

Marianne said...

Oh, Muffy, makes me wonder what you used to knit up in a past life. Certainly you used the very finest in yarn, without a doubt.

Marianne said...

Jo, you've done a lovely job with your sidebar, very impressive!

Erica said...

Oh no!!! I am truly cringing as I look at the pictures. She does have good taste though, I'll give her that.

Angeluna said...

Dear Jo, Of course, you have finally completely understood that adorable little caninette. She's emulating her Mom, and she wants you to be very proud of her. I belly-laughed when I saw the shreds, and that sweet little face, and the clever tucking away of a few choice remnants. How could you ever be angry with little Sophie? Impossible. Oh well, your gauge will probably be a bit different on the new needles and hopefully you have plenty of cashmere yarn. Just tuck your work away under lock and key when you can't observe it. I did see my baby cat tossing my newly knitted Mountain Colors sock in the air, biting and shaking it!!! Evidently, Persians love wool for some reason. Almost as much as Pekingese. Exotic little beasties have good taste. BTW, I did knitted woolen "dim-sum" (Knitty) for them and stuffed them with catnip. Favorite toys. Perhaps Sophie would appreciate an eggroll?

Angeluna said...

I'm so sorry Muffy, I got your name wrong in the last post. Forgive me. I'm writing from the office when I really shouldn't be.

Ms. Knitingale said...

Oh, my.....I'm with you, Jo. As horrifying as the carnage is, I don't think anyone could possibly be angry with that sweet little face! And yes, how clever to wait for the finest yarn. A lovely creature like that...well, she could hardly settle for anything less, could she?

BTW, I'm chuckling in empathy as I realize that, in the midst of a dreadful knitting disaster such as this, you FIRST took pics for the blog.....'cause I'd have done the same thing!

Another yarn said...

I think my heart stopped a bit. Oh my. ~Tracie

Shelley said...

Oh no....well, at least Muffy has good taste in yarn...

anne said...

hahahahaha! but still, no, i do not own a dog, and probably never will!

Dez Crawford said...

My first thought is, I hope she didn't ingest any of it!

I would keep that cashmere "far and away" from now on, my friend.

Rachel H said...

Ok, I'm all for encouraging new knitters to use the good stuff at the start and not to get depressed by nasty cheap acrylic while learning, but this may be taking it a bit far.

(and I'll have you know it took me a good few minutes and a hot cup of tea before I stopped shaking from that sight enough to type this)

cindy said...

Muffy is a blog star!!!

Thanks for the information on uploading the red sweater image. I will play with it soon.

Wish you could come to Rhinebeck...

Fiberjoy said...

Second picture clearly shows Muffy to be pleading dearly to keep possesion of the yarn.

You've finally sorted it out: not an aggressive yarn fiend, rather an enamoured yarn princess.

lene said...

Oh no, but it has come clear to me over the years, that we don't only share our bed, or meals, or the best spot on the couch but also the stash with these companions.

angie cox said...

O.M.G it looks like The St. Valentines' Day massacre!Oh I feel sick ...no it's only yarn ..I mean not blood.Oh poor Muffy she must have thought you'd be so pleased.As pleased as when my Tom bought in a haulking great spider and laid at my feet.As for this sidebar stuff Jo ..you must explain in terms an idiot can understand how you do it!!

jdknits said...

EEK!

I thought I was made of sterner stuff than I am, apparently, as I gasped on seeing the picture.

May God grant me the same gift of insight when my boys (3 and 1) do things I would otherwise consider works of evil genius...

roggey said...

Holy bloody hell!

When I saw the first photo, the air just let my body! You poor dear - and what a damned lucky dog to have such a loving owner.

My pooch, Sol, has never chewed on my knitting. Rolled all over it when covered in snow and mud, but never chewed it to smithereens.

I need a lie down now...

Charity said...

Oh, my. Oh, the carnage! I'm glad you have such a good attitude, Muffy is a sweetheart. :0)

Connie said...

My dog has never taken off with my knitting but my 1 year old has....it looks just like that! Also, per your previous post I do live near a Joanne's so let me know if you have an emergency.

Peg said...

Muffy is not off to a great start, but perhaps she does care for such fine knitting - give her some bulky to work with, Jo.
I am leary when I knit with my bamboo needles, and always make sure I put them up high. So far, our dogs have not shown any interest in my knitting.
How could you get cross at that dear little girl? Well, only for a moment!

Vicki in So. Cal. said...

I feel your pain. I once scoured the house searching for a missing 18 inches of silk roving. I found it 2 days later after taking my dogs for their walk. It appeared behind one of the Australian Shepherds. First I was sick with the thought that he could have died from a blockage but that dog must have had cast iron intestines. Then I had a moment's mad urge to see if it would wash up. But I came to my senses and took it on it's final journey to the dumpster. Pets calm us and help lengthen our lifespans you know.
I lost him 3 years ago at the age of 14. I would give up silk forever to have him still in my life.

carlarey said...

At least it was just the swatch. Imagine if you'd been halfway through the sweater. Muffy's cute face may not have been enough to save her.

Francesca said...

Can we get a picture of you knitting on the shelf? ;)
Well, at least it was only the swatch, not the real thing, although I can almost feel the heart stop when you turned on the light. No matter how careful you are, these things are bound to happen from time to time when you have pets. One of my cats is always on the lookout for balls of yarn and occasionally manages to make a mad dash with one, usually attached to a WIP sock. Like you, I can never get mad at him.

gwtreece said...

Muffy has expensive tastes and what cutey. I agree with Angie it looks like the St. Valentine's day massacre.

I'm so happy that my dogs never bother my knitting, expect they like to lay on it. I'm going to give my 2 Shelties a big hug tonight for never tearing up my yarn.

Jean said...

Ah, Muffy, thank God you're pretty.

Gelsomina (Jill) Lucchesi said...

I know the feeling! I came home one night from work excited to knit my new, beautiful-beyond-belief New Zealand yarn that arrived the day before from el postino.

I didn't have to turn the lights on to know something was wrong, very wrong. There were ivory orbs glowing in the darkness all over the loft. My Old English Sheepdog named "Friday" decide to take up yarn herding... for some reason he pulled the box of yarn down onto the floor, opened the box, pulled out every ball and went to work. Half were unwound and tangle, and worse yet he had brought some outside onto the piazza. Those outside were dirty.

I stood there stunned squeaking "oh my god, oh my god" while Friday danced around, very proud of his 'sheepherding' skills. I suppose he did it because the yarn had a distinct yet pleasant scent of sheep to it? How you can you punish him for doing his job in order to make you happy?? It took the entire weekend to clean and rewind the yarn.

Friday died 2 months ago of cancer. I'd give up every ball of yarn I own for his 'herding' if it meant I could have him back.

LaurieM said...

Oh wow! What can you say to those big brown eyes?!

You are very sweet to be so understanding of your pet. Truely, she knows not what she does.

Tan said...

Lucky for you Muffy is short. Our dog is quickly growing into a giant, and soon NO shelf will be too high for him, I fear.

Gelsomina (Jill) Lucchesi said...

Jo, what's your ebay alias so I can search on your yarns??? I must see them! Searching for yarn on ebay is so tricky when you don't have the right info; there's like 58,000 yarns on there!

I'll take pix tonight of the pup tote, I need to take some other knitterly pix too. I made a jumbo japanese quilt style needle holder I need to post.

I got the tote in SF Chinatown at "Old Shanghai" imports. They're one of the best import stores there, no junkie touristy stuff there. They had 3 different sizes, all beautiful colors. You could probably call them to buy one and have it shipped. BONUS: I got it 50% off!!

I checked on the internet last week to find them, could not find them anywhere. Now I wish I had bought two of them!

orata said...

oh, good Lord!! I linked to this from Ravelry and what a horrifying image that is. Good luck beating the curse on this sweater, one day.

Norah said...

I'm so torn between how adorable and "helpful" your dog is and how heart-breaking the yarn loss is!