Archive for May 15th, 2009

So a couple of weeks ago, I went into one of the local charity shops (thrift stores, of which we have more than our fair share in the neighborhood), just to distract a child from the fact that its sibling had a playdate, and it wasn’t invited. So, yes – basically – I offered shopping therapy. It was meant to be a quick walk and a browse, and not too far, so back home again shortly. It so happened that this was the shop where I’d actually scored some yarn at Christmas time, so I decided to ask the time-honored question, “have you any wool?” to which the reply was a resounding no, not at the moment. That’s OK, I didn’t expect them to have much of interest (I reckon one ball of pure cotton – which I made into my camouflage beret for use when bagel-buying in the Orthodox (“frum”) districts of North London – was probably a lifetime of yarn luck for that shop). As I left, a woman sidled up to me and asked why I was asking, and if I was looking for proper wool, did I know of the nice yarn shop in Penarth (safely on the other side of Cardiff)? It turned out I’d met my first Other Knitter. A live in-the-flesh knitter. Gadzow. Fabulous. Someone who understood the obsession, and who existed outside of a blog. Amazing: I didn’t realize other knitters could actually be in 3-d. All my glass friends are baffled. They are completely obsessed with glass, but knitting? They’re all, like, how weird is that? And you mean, it’s soft? But not only when it’s hot? And you can’t cut yourself wth it? Really? And it’s still fun? Me, I’m clearly able to run multiple obsessions off the same power circuit. As long as I don’t try to run a real life off the same main, I should be fine.

She felt more or less the same, and we are now offiicially friends. Friends on Ravelry, even friends on Facebook (not that I ever hang out on Facebook: it bores me rigid, but I got sick of ignoring invitations). And we have had coffee a couple of times. If I’m very nice she might let me play with her new drop spindle (only secretly, now I’ve seen it, I plan to make one out of a dowel and some part of some toy purloined from one of the children. Why, oh why, don’t we have Tinkertoys in this country. I’m sure they’re the answer to everything).

Today, she dropped a bombshell.

“Do you know,” she said, “I’ve just discovered that I’ve always purled the wrong way?” So I got her to describe what she was doing, and it sounded just like what I do. So I said, “show me” and she did. And it was – exactly what I do. Ahem. This was wrong? So then she showed me the microscopic twists at the base of the purls. Wrong, wrong wrong. We got out her book, and it was indeed right there in black and white, and clearly (well, now it was clear) quite the other way from what she -and I – had been doing, and I got home and checked out my book. And it was just the same as her book. So there you are. We have both purled every purl we have ever purled (and between the two of us in our combined couple of years, that’s still a fair few purls), backwards, upside-down or inside-out. I’m not sure which it is, but they’ve all been wrong. [For the record, we’ve been drawing the yarn straight up between the needles rather than wrapping it round to the right – clockwise, rather than counter-clockwise]. What interests me is a) that you can’t really tell, whcih seems like one of those deep lessons for life that knitting keeps throwing up, and b) that we’ve both spontaneously done the same thing, and are presumeably not the only people to have done it. It’s vaguely evolutionary: I don’t know if that stitch has a name, but if not, might I suggest “Mutated Purl”? Alternatively, it’s amazing how many smart people can’t read. Or follow a diagram. And not notice. I’m trying not to worry about the implications of that. I prefer the random spontaneous mutation theory.


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