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Archive for September 20th, 2016

It’s Not Brain Surgery

The rip back of the sister-in-law shawl went quite well by masochistic standards. In the end, the farm table surface was too slick so I used an old door that I laid on the top of one of the couches and covered it with terry cloth towels. The towels helped hold the shawl in place, whereas it slid around too much on the farm table surface. The Skipper and Yarn Rascal were seated in their chair watching football. It was a terribly humid day so the yarn, which doesn’t normally stick to itself, was sticking to itself. But again, the towels helped hold the shawl in place so I could work out those areas of stickiness.

I had figured to rip about 15 to 17 rows of lace work and put a removable stitch marker on the center stitch two rows below where I wanted to stop. About 7 rows into the massive rip back I encountered a real sticking point. I had forgotten that I had joined another ball of yarn at that junction and in the manner of anyone with a good obsessive compulsive disorder over yarn ends hanging off projects I had woven in those suckers. Because I was terrorized in my youthful knitting days by an expert knitter–another story entirely–I have learned to weave in ends so that 1) you can’t see them and 2) they are locked in and won’t come out, thanks to a little trick I learned from that expert knitter. A strong spotlight and magnifying glass were employed as I tried to find those woven in ends and the point at which they were locked so I could carefully snip them loose and continue with the rip back. It was delicate surgery, the kind that rates right up there with brain surgery. Pull, snip or otherwise disturb the wrong bit of yarn and you’ve botched it.

I had followed one woven end to the lock point and was trying to decide which particular yarn needed snipping when the cricket showed up. One second I am bending over a shawl, the next I am face to face with a cricket that looks much larger than it is thanks to the magnifying glass. The folklore about crickets is that if they are in your house and alive that means good luck. If you kill it or it is dead that means bad luck. The cricket under the magnifying glass was clearly alive and did what crickets do: it chirped. This caused me to snip and the two sounds together drew a rather excited Yarn Rascal to the area. He trampled over the shawl chasing the cricket which had jumped onto the floor. My main concern now was not the shawl, but that Yarn Rascal not eat the cricket. As Yarn Rascal and the cricket and I chased each other, The Skipper lamented over not being able to watch one football game in peace. To snap The Skipper out of his lament I quickly pointed out that if Yarn Rascal ate the cricket it would mean a trip to the emergency vet and he would miss not only this game but the next one coming on too. This mobilized The Skipper into action and we finally caught Yarn Rascal. The cricket had escaped into a corner and disappeared.

With peace now restored, the football game blaring in the backround and The Skipper and Yarn Rascal seated once more in their chair, I returned to the delicate operation of ripping back the shawl. I picked up the shawl from the floor and carefully laid it back out. It was immediately clear that the rip back point had to be moved a few rows further down due to snags and a large hole that now replaced the area I had so carefully snipped. In addition, I had now lost count of the number of rows that had been ripped back and therefore lost my place on the seven charts that make up the pattern. In short, it was no longer a methodical, brain surgery kind of operation. It had become a rip the %&$!@*% thing back, pick up the stitches, find where I was in the charts and get on with it.

This attitude change made all the difference. I am now once again knitting on the shawl. The Skipper has watched two entire football games without being interrupted. The cricket still lives, chirping in the corner of the living room. Yarn Rascal is madly digging in the rug near the chirping sound. Peace has been restored.

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