Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Will Someone Please Stop Me Digging This Bottomless Pit?

It's insane. I am well acquainted with the old proverb - the one which suggests that if you happen to find yourself rather far down a muddy hole - so far that you can barely see the light of day up at the top - you should actually desist from the energetic manual labour that is drawing you ever further downward.

So why can't I stop? What mad lunacy is driving me to continue with a project which has already taken up far too much time, has spawned countless sub-projects, and has produced to date absolutely nothing except a bigger list of non-knitting things left undone that were urgent enough in the first place.

I allude, of course, to the Mad Vest. That sudden brilliant flash of creative genius which had me dashing wildly for every skein, every cone, every ball of yarn I possessed, in the absolute belief that I was about to break boundaries, transcend experience, create the most beautiful fibre-item ever seen in the world, The One which would ensure my name going down in knitting history (and don't you copy it, I thought of it first!). I was over the critical stage of this disease, or so I thought, when I last posted. Little did I know that the fever had not gone away. It broke out again, in even worse degree, and I have been suffering from it since.

Angeluna observed that I could at least have taken pictures of the various stages of dementia before frogging yet again. Point taken, Angeluna, and for you and others who wish to avoid a similarly sad situation, I did just that at intervals during the past week. OK, I know they'll make you laugh. I don't care any more. Go on, laugh at me.

Here was a particularly silly idea, early in the week. I suddenly wondered if a combination of black mohair and pink fun stuff would make the perfect Mad Vest. I was cautious enough to try out a ripple pattern in crochet first, because (a) it's quicker and (b) it's easier to frog. You see? Learning a little, if not a lot. In any case, it didn't last long. I realised at just about the point you see here that I must have been out of my tiny nut to think I could successfully wear (could at ALL wear) anything remotely like this. A-frogging we will go, tra la la...

This was another attempt, in a nice thick navy chenille which hurled itself into Celtic Memory's hot little paws somewhere in the south of France last year. As you can see, it didn't get beyond the first row before being hauled furiously off the circular. The patience span was getting shorter every time.

Had enough yet? Gosh, you're a crowd of ghouls, aren't you?

Of course!, I cried, smiting myself heavily on the forehead. Blues are what I need. It's the colour I have most of in my stash after all. It suits me! How could I have considered even the most restrained of Mad Vests (is that a contradiction? Probably) without a whole scrumptiousness of blues? Down to the stash room quickly. Haul out another of those pop-up laundry bins (do you use these for stash diving? Aren't they ideal?)

H-ll and d-m-ation. No bins left. (Celtic Memory possesses several - more than several in fact - of these. All are now otherwise occupied with skeins of yarn, balls of yarn, cones of yarn, WIPs and UFOs. Oh sorry day!) Well haul them upstairs somehow. (Dropped a few in dark corners which will appear in one or other of the dogs' beds during the next month or so, slightly soggy from being loved a lot). Pile them all on the floor in the sitting room. Shut the dogs out (should have done that first). Start again.

Frog again.

Swear again.




(yes, actually, now that you mention it, there are a few deadlines looming...)

A ray of sunshine breaks in from stage left. Postie arrives with a package of magazines from darling Ambermoggie. Amber has been destashing and I got the Noro pattern books (yay!)

Oh my HEAVENS, look at that Ekeby vest! I'd forgotten all ABOUT that.

Never mind that I'm not that shape, that colouring, that age, that style. Never mind ANYTHING. I have to make it. THAT is my Mad Vest (for now at any rate). Noro, Noro, who's got the Noro?

Briefly considered frogging the half-made Halfobi jacket...

...but couldn't bring myself to do it (I know, surprising, considering the way I go on).

Ha! How about that Noro vest I started a while back? It must be around here somewhere. Oh there it is. How on earth did it get there?

Hmmm. Now that I look at it, I see that it's quite the wrong gauge - far too loose. Would look dreadful on me if I persevered and finished it. No, only virtuous thing to do is frog it back right away before it goes any further. And that would leave me with several balls of Silk Garden Lite, wouldn't it? Well isn't that convenient? Oooh, now for a nice little sit down in my favourite armchair with the Ekeby pattern...

Can you tell me why, why, WHY it is that when we know in our heart of hearts that something is going to turn out the wrong size, we still keep working on it? I mean, it isn't as if I hadn't realised it. I worked a few rows of the pattern in a larger needle and decided it was too loose so switched to a finer one and started again, congratulating myself on my efficiency as I did so.

Now it has been abundantly clear since Row 5 at least of the current version that this is going to be the shortest most miniscule vest since time began. Cropped isn't in it. Oh the gauge is absolutely right, it looks beautiful. But a vest which ceases abruptly half-way down my chest isn't really practical.


Why haven't I sworn, frogged, started again with an additional 12 sts or so to fit the pattern into a longer length?

How is it, I beg someone to tell me, that I am stupid, dense, slow enough to keep on knitting happily, enjoying the gradual development of the colours, the way this intriguing pattern works up (am I answering my own question here?) when I know it's going to be way, way, too small?

Dez, I know you won't laugh at me. You've admitted to doing the same thing now and again. But I bet no-one else has. Oh no, you all swatch, and block and measure and swatch again for safety, and then cast on knowing exactly where you're going and exactly how it is going to turn out. Oh happy people.

(it is a nice pattern though, isn't it? And the colours are cute, the way they evolve from one another. Clever Mr. Noro. Clever Jane Ellison.)

Celtic Memory became a little depressed. Just a little. Not quite despairing but definitely down. And what do we all do when we get a little depressed?

All together now -


Well done. That was a perfect chorus.

There was this nice soft ball of Austermann Step in the sock yarn stash. Wasser, I think the pale grey/blue blend is called.

Coming along nicely. Rib done on Sock 1, and now starting the rib on Sock 2, so they can work away together. It's going to be either the Broad Cable Ribbing or the Faggot & Cable pattern from More Sensational Knitted Socks. The Broad Cable would be easier, but the Faggot & Cable is really beautiful. Unfortunately it requires a real cable twist every 12th row, and for stitches as fine as socks I find I have to resort to a cable needle which annoys me inordinately since normally I just pull them off the needles and twist them into their new position. But if you try that on size 0 needles, you tend to spend a lot of time with a fine crochet hook picking them up again from whence they have merrily retreated, four rows down.

And I could start these socks because I have MORE size O circulars, hahahahahaHAHAH! This time the wonderfully generous gifter was Morgen in Washington State, who sent me this marvellous package:

Can you see what I got? You might not be able to, so I'll list them off. TWO size 0 circulars. TWO size 00 circulars (that impossible size to locate, these were HiyaHiya. Now, with the ones from Rho, and these from Morgen, I am well provided indeed!) A wuvly wuvly coffee mug, and some glorious white tea. An adorable mini sock blocker with instructions for a mini sock to go on it. And last, but most certainly not least, Steph's Casts Off book. And not just Casts Off, but a signed copy of Casts Off, especially for me! What are you like, Morgen? And all packed into what is absolutely my favourite type of knitting bag - a clear plastic one with handles and a zip on top. Morgen, you are far and away the biggest petkin. Lucky bag coming your way! Although how can I match that?

With all these new needles, at last I can join the big girls, those who carelessly and happily have several sets of socks on the go at once (you know who you are). In fact if I got my act together and really tried, I could put a pair of socks on one circular, and have even more on the go at once...

Do you think perhaps if I dampened and stretched that Ekeby vest really hard, it would turn out the right length after all...?


Micki said...

This is the funniest thing I've read all day. What an optimist you are! I can't wait to read more about the Great Vest Saga of 2007.

Charity said...

I choose to believe it's some kind of faith that keeps us going even when we think it's all going to be a disaster. :0)

SandyK said...

Oh Jooooooo???? I took one look at that pile of blue yarns and the mind's eye immediately saw one of these......

Lynn said...

Whewwww! I thought one of your stash bins had toppled over and smothered you. So relieved to know you were just OD'ing on wool fumes.

Knit on, sister!

cindyl said...

Bless your heart, Jo.
I'd say you were certifiable, except that the urge to start something new, something "safe," (because nothing feels as fresh and safe and HOPEFUL, as casting on something new), I take as a sign of sanity. There is such comfort in the cast-on (maybe because it's so hard to screw up). I've recently fallen in love with Norwegian cast-on, just the repetitive fun of the motion. I like just casting on, frogging, casting on, frogging... Talk about certifiable.

Anonymous said...

Lunacy? We don't think you're a lunatic. You're creative! Of course, we could just be sadistic knitters who like to see you flash your stash. But really, how likely is that? Don't answer that.

Hurray for Morgen coming to the rescue so you could do some soothing socks! And Ekeby? Rip and add that pattern repeat. (This from the person who frequently says guiltily, "Swatch? What swatch?")

PS - if you ever get to the Pacific NW for that frolic with Ms. K (and hopefully me [g])...I'm working on her for next year's Black Sheep Gathering in June, down here in Oregon. (Google. You'll find it.) She wasn't able to make it for Oregon Flock & Fiber, but I went last Saturday, and my head is still whirling--and BSG is bigger ::mind somewhat boggling at the thought:: We need more excuses to get a hotel room to stay all three days, due to the possibility of going bankrupt. You'd be a perfect excuse. [eg]

Cindy/Snid said...

(an unoriginal comment, but heart felt!)

GaietyGirl said...

You are absolutely hysterical, and have completely brightened up my morning!!

AK said...

Boy do I feel better now after reading your post, I thought it was just me with the blind faith bit going on. I have just ripped out a cable sock on 2mm dpn's that I was refusing to use a cable needle for and blaming the yarn/me for the split/dropped stitches. Now I know better! Thanks for cheering up my lunchtime.

GaietyGirl said...

You think you're late starting CHRISTMAS knitting? G-d A-m-gh-y I hadn't got out of summer state of mind yet. Is it that late? What happened to Hallow-E'en knitting?

I'm late in on this. When's the wedding? NY will be COLD at Christmas if that's when you're going.

We've moved the wedding to March, so plenty of time. I'm trying to make sure that we've got enough woolly layers for NYC - yup, at new years!

It's far too cold here to be in the summer state of mind. I can just about feel my toes lol

pacalaga said...

Jo, darling, why not knit the vest as is and then pick up stitches along the bottom to add your own special touch? Personally, I'm quite sure you could design the Stunning Vest of the Century if you sit quietly in your stash and see which ball is asking most politely. (What, your yarn doesn't talk to you? Weird.)
I startitised myself the other day too. (It is too a word.) It's a Christmas gift, but I think it will be a year before it's done. Laceweight on 2.75mm needles goes sooooooo slowly.

Roggey said...

damn and hellfire indeed! You've got it bad, woman... I think you need a vacation of fiber fondling. Back away from the needles...

BTW, I've decided to use the Step yarn for my Tabi socks. After I finish up the baby blanket.

LaurieM said...

Perhaps the Ekeby vest wants to be a Christmas present for a dearly loved girl child. Otherwise, check guage again before riping!

I will admit to knitting serenely on when I know it won't fit me, if I'm confident that I can part with it as a gift to someone else.

Anonymous said...

Dearling, why would we stop you when watching the madness is so much fun?

Dez Crawford said...

I am in love with the Ekeby Vest. Madly, I tell you.

Only now I am imagining it in Kauni, having seen some Kauni live and in person at Harlot's book signing in New Orleans. One of the knitters had succumbed to the Kauni cardigan, and of course a Kauni cardigan is a perfect light coat for a Southern winter, except for the coldest days. The texture reminds me of vintage Lopi.

Speaking of which, has anyone else noticed textural differences in the quality of Icelandic wool and other wools from far-northern climes in the past decade or so? Somewhat coarser, less soft? A friend who works with rare breeds sheep blames this on climate change, the sheep adapting to rising temperatures. She is studying how quicklty they adapt. Scary to consider.

I have some of those pop-up bins but I can't keep skeined yarn in them because of both moths and cats. I do, however, use them for fleeces (after carefully placing them in large, heavy duty plastic bag to keep the mothies out). The bins stay open and are perfect for keeping next to my wheel.

*Reach in, grab fleece, repeat from*...

Tracy said...

I also have the "blind faith"problem, but in my case, it always results in finished items being Way. Too. Big. It all started when I knit my first Aran sweater (to replace one that my mother knit, one that the sadists at American Airlines lost on my first-ever trip to NYC). That sweater ended up big enough for me and my whole family to wear. All at once.

And this happens to me time and time again.

Now, I'm vowing to knit smaller things. Scarves are good. Can't get too big with those. Or can you...?

I'm sitting here with your Autumn Harvest yarn that I just bought on eBay---wonderful beautiful amazing. One exquisite skein of yarn!

Kathy said...

Oh my goodness, I nearly spit out my breakfast laughing at this. Now I'm thinking that I am completely normal. If you do these crazy things half way around the world, then everyone else must, and we are normal.

cindyl said...

The crappiest day at school. Every ADHD kid in the district seems to be in my sixth period class. New wannabe principal making nonsense idiot rules. My blood pressure high for the first time in my life. But I look at these comments and laugh out loud, then log onto my e-mail and find my GLORIOUS long-awaited Ravelry invitation, and now I'm in knitter euphoria. Are knitters normal? I have a button on my Levi jacket that reads "Normal is a cycle on a washing machine," and who the Holz & Stein wants to be THAT? We're much happier (and with lower blood pressure) in our nonnormalness.

Anonymous said...

If I wasn't at work I would be ROFLMAO. As it is, I can barely keep the mirth contained. Where have you been all my (blogging) life?

Anonymous said...

Ah Jo, all will sort itself out and your have basketfulls of crazy wonderful garments. Perhaps a good dose of writing to meet deadlines will help the yarns and patterns to leap into your fingers.

The Ekeby is worth rippin' out to make it fit. It looks like a relatively quick knit.

Though Black Sheep Gathering may be bigger I far prefer OFFF. September in Oregon!