A good yarn . . .



One must discover the yarn amidst the thorns.

No Time to Frog (Frogging is Knit-Speak for Unraveling.)



     A griz was spotted near Chugiak High School.  They are up and among us; stay frosty.


     I work a day or so each week at The Shop, www.facebook.com/thetangledskein.  What I do there can’t rightly be called “work” - let me rephrase that.  I pleasure a day or so a week at The Shop.  I get to hang out all day surrounded by the most gorgeous fibers in the world.  And if that weren’t enough - knitters, crocheters, weavers, seamstresses, artists and crafters of all types stop by. They come to buy yarn, including hand dyed Alaskan yarn, needles, buttons, patterns, looms, swifters, wind chimes and all the many different treasures Roberta has tucked away within the stitches of The Shop.  One of my favorite parts of the job is on-the-spot-trouble-shooting.  Customers bring in all sorts of puzzles for me to solve.  Sometimes they already have a pattern and need just the right yarn.  Or maybe they have picked up some intriguing yarn while traveling and are looking for just the perfect pattern.  Often there is a specific problem to be solved, e.g., how to read a pattern, how to work a specific stitch or how to correct an error.

     Yesterday, for example, one woman brought in a complex sweater project.  The piece is worked in two pieces on circulars.  First the left side is worked from cuff to center and then right side is worked from cuff to center.  The two halves are then kitchner stitched together.  Although it is knitted in two pieces instead of one, the look of the finished sweater is similar to Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Sweater.  The knitter, having finished the first side was unclear how to reverse the instructions into a mirror image so that she could proceed with the second side.  When a knitter is lost half way through the map of a pattern it takes a bit to become oriented, so that I can help her find her way out of the maze.  We laid out the puzzle pieces and thought it out and talked it out.  We posited several hypothesis until it became clear to me how to proceed.  I helped her clarify and write additional directions into the pattern.  We rehearsed until she felt confident that she could find her way home.  I invited her to come back when she is ready for the kitchner stitch; because it always helps to have a lifeguard on duty when diving into the kitchner pool (knitty.com/ISSUEsummer04/FEATtheresasum04.html‎). This sweater will be gorgeous; in fact, I’m thinking I’d like to make one for myself.

     My favorite puzzle yesterday was a phone consultation.  It takes special skills to solve a problem over the phone, because one has to be able to envision the actual piece.  I can do that.  I can not only see the piece, I can turn and rotate it so that I can see it from different angles.  Out of sight.  Anyway, she was knitting a hat in the round using the magic loop method.  The pattern is worked in 1X1 ribbing.  She was calling to find out how to correct a mistake she had made several rounds down.  Having made every mistake possible, over and over and over again, I have learned a few things over the years about correcting mistakes.  From her description I could see that instead of working in the round, she had worked back and forth on one side, while ignoring the other side.  This is especially easy to do while working a multidirectional stitch like ribbing.  I explained to her how to tear back to the critical decision point when she went wrong, then pick up the stitches and continue forward on the right path.  She wanted to tear it all the way back to the point of conception – no, to before conception – to the twinkle in the eye.  She wanted to frog the whole piece and start completely over again.  I tried to hide my sense of urgency when I disagreed and pressed her to follow my plan instead. 

     It is not uncommon for knitters who have made a mistake to be ready to tear back and start completely over.  This is perfectly understandable because, of course, less experienced knitters have less experience having made and corrected mistakes. So when they come to the crossroads and one path leads to frogging back to the mistake and correcting it and the other path leads to frogging the entire piece – a less experienced knitter is more apt to totally unravel and start over again. It’s more than knitting experience; my sense of urgency yesterday told me; there is something more at play here than knitting experience.  It’s life-experience, age, time. Yesterday’s knitter is a thirty-something woman heavy into her second pregnancy.  I’m a grandmother.  We see starting over from two very different places on the lifeline continuum.  It did not even occur to her to consider that there might be a limit to the amount of time she has to finish projects – she has fresh starts without limit.  For me, I’m wondering how many Judy Garland Comebacks I have left in me.  Behind my sense of urgency was the thought “There is not enough time to start over.”   

     You know you are a classic hippy chick when you don’t have time to frog back to the beginning. 



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