Archive for February, 2011

There comes a time in a knitter’s life when the S-word has to be used. In fact, several S-words, all at once, including, but not necessarily limited to, Scissors! Scary! Steek!

and possibly, also, Scotch!

and hopefully, concluding with Success! Satisfaction!

Well, I like a challenge and this one has compelled me for quite some time now. Pretty much since I first learned of the technique, I have wanted to steek something. It appeals to the reckless risk-taker inside me (the one who is also terrified of those truly terrible S-words, Stocks! and Shares! but who likes to play with acids, flame, and hot glass. That namby-pamby, crafty, pseudo-risk-taker.) In other words, I was all up for knitting an entire jumper/sweater/jersey (delete as applicable depending on your particular use of English) and then cutting into it. For what noise could possibly be more satisfying than that of good, sharp scissor blades incisively scything through cloth? And how much more interesting might that noise be when the ‘cloth’ in question is a) not designed to be cut into and b) represents hours and hours (and hours) of your valuable time? (Oh, and money too.) Lead me to it.


That said, I knew – before ever a friend came round to my house, looked at the perfectly nice, nearly complete sweater, and helpfully pointed out that if I failed, then utter ruination, devastation and calamity would be wrought upon it; that there would be no return, and no salvaging anything, and was I Absolutely Sure? – that wimping out would become more appealing as I progressed. So I was careful to outsmart myself, and I’m proud of that I had the foresight to do so.

Thus, I carefully ensured a break in the pattern down the center, so that I would have no choice but to cut.  (When I referred to actual steeking instructions, when the moment of truth arrived, I discovered that I should have knit a whole band of future-cardigan-insuring-ness into the middle of my sweater. I didn’t know that, so my own Panel of No-Return was more modest.) Of course when I tried on the perfect, whole, perfectly-fitting, all-in-one-piece garment while I was working out the height of the yoke, I had a moment’s bitter regret. And a moment’s bitter, regretful cursing. And then a little back-patting at my cleverness. And so on, in alternation, for some three days while I contemplated What Was About to be Done.

Then, being a fool and an idiot (that’s two separate entries for anyone who’s scoring), I waited for it to be dark, and the house overrun with small children, so I could do this with the full benefit of poor lighting and free-form distraction. (If you want risk, go for it, I say. Peace, quiet and daylight are for wimps.) No time like the present.

Words now fail me. Cue the pictures:

The Patient (etherized upon the table)

The Instrument of Surgery/Torture

The Edges of the Wound Look Clean

Out of Danger, In the Recovery Room

And of course, adrenalin rushes being what they are, I can’t WAIT to do it all again.

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A long, long time ago, so long ago that I can’t actually remember when it was, my talented friend Sylvia and I made one of our swaps, in which we exchange my hand-dyed yarn/fiber for some article of her amazing knitting. I have invariably felt that I have had the better of these swaps, which causes me uncomfortable conscience-twinges, alleviated only somewhat by the reminder that both parties to any good bargain probably feel that way.

On that far-off occasion, the item I received was a wonderful cashmere sweater just a smidge too small for the intended recipient. Her loss, very definitely my gain. As I told Sylvia at the time, it fits me perfectly, and I wear it a lot. Apparently, I also promised some form of photographic evidence of the perfect fit. (I have to say, in the light of my general camera-aversion this seems unlikely, but I can only assume I must have been carried away by a heady mix of gratitude and enthusiasm.) I was gently reminded of this, when her latest masterpiece turned up a while ago, and turned out to be not just, well, another perfect item, but a perfect (sorry to keep saying it, but it’s true), and entirely serendipitous, match with my favorite dress. Here. I was quick to provide the proof, because I was able to do so without showing myself –

Look, serendipity:

And, because I do eventually keep my promises when reminded of them, perfection:

Please note, tempting as it was, I wasn’t so churlish as to cut off my face to spite the sweater.

Now stay tuned for the chicken curry recipe I promised someone (but can’t remember who).

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