Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sisters, Take Warning From My Sad Tale And Shun The Sudden Urge For A Quick Fling!

I don't know what came over me. I really don't. It's been a shocking experience and I don't really want to tell you about it, reveal my weaker side. But for the sake of those gentler, untried, younger knitters among us, who may learn and profit from my mistakes, I feel I must.

Sisters, I have fallen. You see before you a chastened Celtic Memory who is not fit to be called one of your elect. I have no excuse. You don't want to hear the sordid details (cries of, 'Oh yes we do!'). No no! (Yes, yes!) Oh all right then.

It started yesterday morning. All was bright and happy, the sun shining in a clear sky, the air crisp and bracing, a refreshing change from the heavy muggy atmosphere we've been labouring under in West Cork for the past few months. I finished dyeing a whole new batch of colourways in that nice merino/tencel sock yarn and hung them out to dry in the breeze.

These are, from left to right, Connemara Evening, Killarney Fern, and Autumn Harvest. They look a bit muted here because of the shadows of the tree, but they're actually quite a bit brighter. The Killarney Fern in particular is pretty sassy and determined. Angeluna, you know that amazing pattern for slashed-doublet-type cuffs on Wollmeise's site? This yarn would be superb for those!

The tiny crabapple tree has outdone itself this year in miniature red fruits; so many indeed that the frail branches are bowed down with their weight. It was the perfect place, though, to photograph Autumn Harvest.

I listed all these yarns on eBay last night. You can find them if you put 'Celtic Memory' into the search box in the Yarn section.

ANYWAY, to get back to the sordid tale, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. The writing work was going well, and even some ironing had got done during an old black and white movie on TV, which always makes one feel better (although I wonder - do you have one of those ironing baskets that magically triples its contents when your back is turned? Mine does. I think it has inbuilt yeast or some other raising agent).

Work on the Halfobi jacket had progressed to the shoulder, and a creative Celtic Memory notion about incorporating moss stitch here and there was working out well.

(Funny how that Noro always looks so soft and beautiful in pictures, whereas up close and personal as it tends to be in knitting, it's quite rough and scratchy. But no-one ever says so! It's always raved about as if it were - well, a wonderful blend of wool and silk, which after all is what it is. But silk can often be quite rough, and so can wool - you should have tried some of the Irish spun bainins with which I grew up! But I digress.)

Life was good. And I fully intended to put in an hour or two 'twixt jobs on the St. Enda Starmore (see, I hadn't forgotten it, so there!) But then this - this whirlwind struck, this coup de foudre, this totally unexpected smash in the ribcage shock of need, of want, of - well - LUST, there is no way of avoiding that unpalatable truth.

Quite suddenly and out of the blue, without warning, I became consumed with desire for a vest (a waistcoat for any UK readers). A magical soft light vest in gorgeous shades of blue and turquoise baby suri alpaca. Now admittedly there was a germ of a base for this lunacy - namely two cones of the said b-s-a which have been sleeping quietly in their own individual special plastic container in the stash den for the past few months, ever since a grateful client pressed them upon me (no, I'm not giving you the details of how I obtained them, if I did you might try the same devious methods, and that wouldn't do at all).

But those two cones had been there without any trouble for a while, and could continue to sleep the sleep of the just. I had more than enough on the Celtic Memory plate (and in the Celtic Memory WIP basket - oh did I mention I bought a nice new WIP basket, one with rather more depth and width than the previous one which really didn't try very hard at holding several projects at the same time?) Yet in the space of a heartbeat, a serene and profitable morning turned into this desperate, undeniable, irresistible tornado-like force. I HAD to make that vest. I HAD to make it RIGHT NOW.

The cones were rudely shaken awake and brought upstairs. The house was ransacked for the right gauge circulars. (I don't want to tell you how close, how very very close - oh heaven, it makes my heart stop even now to think of it- the elegant rosewoods charged with the care of the Starmore St. Enda came to being ripped out of the beautiful cabling). Eventually, with a cry of triumph, a suitable pair were located in an earlier project I'd quite forgotten about, buried at the bottom of a rather big pile.

Isn't it maddening that when all you want to do is sit and knit on a consuming new passion, the world and all that is in it conspires to get in your way, and try to thwart you? Dogs whinged, shrieked, had thorns in their paws, wanted in, wanted out, wanted feeding. Gates banged. Postmen called. The phone rang - incessantly. Irate editors demanded copy. The fridge was empty. One d-n job after another. In between swearing and sorting, I knitted. And knitted. And knitted. Heaven was calling and I had to answer that call.

Eventually, though, even the most trying tasks are done, and there remains just the peace of the settling evening and your knitting needles. At last I could get on with completing the dream vest...

Only it wasn't. I had started with such joy and optimism, such warm and trusting belief that this, this at last was the Right One. I'd given it everything, without question. I had worked the ribbing, I had started the cabling. I had introduced the first stripe of turquoise. I had worked on. And on...

Why, oh why do we continue with something, doggedly, determinedly, when inside we have the increasingly chilly certainty that This Is Not A Good Idea After All?

About midnight I gave in. I looked hard at the travesty that had occupied my mind, my waking hours, the entire fibre of my being since morning. It was a disaster. Very slowly and deliberately (actually you can't do much else with a very fluffy suri alpaca) I frogged it back, rewound the cones, went down to the stash den and tucked them up in their bed once more. With an apology. I may have sung them a snatch of an old French lullaby, I don't really recall. The iron had entered deep into the soul of Celtic Memory.

Now look. It's not a pretty story. I had a happy life, work to do, a home to see to, and several lovely projects for which I should have been very thankful. I was secure (well, fairly). But I deliberately risked it all, let myself be tempted. I swayed, I fell. Into the depths. And FOR WHAT? So that at midnight, like a latter-day Cinderella, the magic would fade and I would end up in the gutter. OK, OK, so I wasn't in the gutter. But I'd betrayed all that I held dear for a whim, a quick thrill, a passion that was over before it had even begun.

WHAT MADE ME DO THAT? Didn't I know that nice girls stick with what is safe and worthwhile? That quick liaisons, one-night stands are not a good idea? That old friends are best? Evidently not. I can only hope that the suri alpaca cones will forget the trauma. That's the worst bit. That I abused them, brought them down with me.

It won't happen again. I've told you of my shame so I won't let it happen again.


All the same, though. I can't quite get the idea of a rather special vest out of my mind. A Mad Vest. Yes, that's it. You know when you have to go somewhere fairly tidy and you put on a dark jacket and dark trousers, maybe a freshly ironed white shirt and you look - well, tidy, yes, but - well, BORING? Now suppose when that jacket fell open, onlookers saw a flash of a spectacular, an amazing, a supersonic, shocking VEST? Something with exploding pinks and iridescent purples and eyepopping greens and golds? And then the jacket fell shut again and all was quiet and businesslike once more?

I mustn't. I mustn't. I must think of my devoted little WIP family that trusts me. I mustn't go there again.

I must definitely NOT go downstairs, climb to the topmost platform of the diving board, and take a header into the foaming and dangerous waters of the stash. NO. No way.


Charity said...

Come, now, Jo, take the header! What happened to the great words I heard recently, about how important it is to flit and float to whatever captures your fancy? Get flitting and floating, I say! :0)

Marianne said...

It matters not, those 'must nots', take a deep breath and dive!

Needles said...

Yarn sometimes tells you it wants to be one thing, but in its heart of hearts it really wants to be something entirely different, and changes its mind halfway through the day or project. At least it didn't wait till you were almost finished.

Ruth said...

Go forth and knit the vest! It's calling you!! At least you don't have to work on the Noro and its scratchiness.

rho said...

Go for it!!! Jump in head first - it sounds spectacular and I am sure you have the perfect yarn in your stash (and if not you can dye it!)

I can just picture it. Yummy...

And my shirts are fabulous - and it may even be warm enough to wear it tomorrow :D

Jocerane said...

What a dangerous life!!!
When the same horrible thing happens to me, I don't dive downstairs : I have to go upstairs!
Your bright vest makes me think of Kathrin Alexander's one :

Angeluna said...

So that's what you've been up to??? How wonderful to have such passion. You could have at least shown us photos before you sent the poor waistcoat packing.

LOVE the new yarns, particularly Killarney Fern and Autumn Harvest. Good job!

Anonymous said...

What a bummer! All that work, all those hopes. On the bright side, you at least realised the incompatability of yarn and pattern early on - imagine if this dawning had happened in five days time? See, there's always a bright side.

Now, just as they say that bit about falling off a horse; jump back on, or in (to the stash) preferably as soon as possible (although I'm guessing I'm speaking after that particular horse has already bolted). Enough with the cliches - get back to the knitting.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Jo! What courage to be honest to your readership and loyal to your WIPs --I'm sure they've forgiven you for your temporary lapse. Have patience, and someday both the daring waistcoat and the rightpattern for that alpaca will find their way to you.

Yarn-wise, I love that Autumn Harvest! Is there any chance you'll be concocting something special for the upcoming Fall Equinox?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this harrowing story. :) I'm am sure that I will completely forget everything you have said the next time a star-crossed project calls to me!

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog, it always make me feel warm and fuzzy. I even mentioned you in one of my classes the other day, as I am a college student.

As for the vest, that is awful that you had to take the entire thing out after so much work. I worked on an Aran for a year and even though the very first cable was wrong, I never had the strength to take it out, even as it haunts me.

pacalaga said...

Nice girls rarely make history. Just sayin'.

LaurieM said...

It sounds to me like you are distracting yourself from something unpleasant that you'd rather not dwell on.

That's a rather somber observation, but it's heartfelt none-the-less.

LaurieM said...

Oh, and Silk Garden softens up beautifully in the wash.

DeAnn said...

LOL:) Living on the edge with fiber always comes with a risk. Sometimes it's good to be bad. :)
Love your Blog.

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

Oh Jo, I wanted to scroll down to see the 'new' vest, but thought no, 'wait for it'. I was disappointed. You should never frog what looks bad at midnight - give the fairies a chance and it might be spectacular by morning!
I spent an hour or so with my Irish Bainin - wrists are getting stronger. The back is complete, one front about 3/4 complete and the other front 1/2. This has been a labour of ...... well it has been a labour!!
Love the colours in the new yarn.
I chuckled at you 'flashing' a vest under your sensible trousers and jacket!!

Roggey said...

Now we know why lust is a deadly sin, look at the trouble it gets you into! Ah, what the hell, you only live once -- dive! dive!

Artis-Anne said...

LOL I think we have all wasted a evening or two on a project we hoped in our hearts would work only to have to frog it. I totally understand the 'want a vest ' urge ' as funnily enough I have had the same yen and am spinning some yummy kid mohair (in between other spinning !!) and dye it various shades to knit something similar to one I have seen but no pattern for . I guess we are all mad to some extent ;)but hey you HAVE just got to keep trying . After all that's when you create such lovelies as your last FO :)
Oh and I have the pattern for THAT mobius from Claudia and its another on my ever expanding 'to do list '

Kathy said...

Well behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

You make me laugh! Thank you.

Dez Crawford said...

Jo, it has happened to me, too. I have finished an entire sweater knowing it was too large and thinking it was my imagination, doggedly finished the damn thing, ripped the entire sweater and then knit it over again. Go figure.

Your new dye jobs are gorgeous!

The denial thing about Noro is odd. I find the Kureyon comfortable enough for socks -- certainly much softer than the current version of Lopi. For some reason I find Silk Garden a bit itchy next-to-skin.

Sorry I haven't commented in awhile -- I was really stacked with work for awhile and then we got a visit from the Yarn Harlot last week!

Take care,