Mustang, Oklahoma, United States
60-ish 'child of the prairie' who loves sewing, baking, knitting and most of all -- family & friends.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Double-pointy sticks and other forms of torture

I admit it – I have issues with directions. Maybe it’s my left-handedness or just my brain isn’t wired for written directions. Whatever the case, I have problems with directions for sewing, crocheting, or knitting.
I remember when my dear friend LLB taught me to do hand quilting - the only reason it made any sense to me is because she demonstrated how to actually do the quilting, being very patient with me and my left-hand brain. If I can see the process then sometimes I can duplicate it for myself – but, to me, written directions for the most part are Greek, Japanese, Arabic or Vulcan – take your pick of languages.

Now keep that in mind as I relate my attempts at ‘knitting in the round’ -- with the end result to be a knitted hat. Hat knitting is something I’ve been trying to teach myself for over a year – with numerous books and printed directions. You see, I have grandchildren and three of those grandchildren live where it gets very cold in the winter – these three grandchildren are girls -- and girls need cute hand-knitted hats from Grandma. Then there are the grandchildren here in Oklahoma who also require warm hand-knitted hats for those ‘Blue Northerns’ that blow frigid air into our state from way up in Canada.

According to the books: to knit a hat by ‘knitting in the round’, you begin with a circular needle – small knitting needles connected with a cable that allows you to just knit around and around and around and around – producing pretty stockinet stitch. I’m always amazed at this – stockinet stitch without purling (and, don’t even get me started about the whole purling thing !) I can follow the directions for hat-knitting up to this point -- after knitting merrily along with circular needles and feeling pretty dang confident, the pooh-pooh hits the fan.

The ‘pooh-pooh’ looks innocent enough – 5 little wooden sticks with points at both ends. But, don’t be fooled by their looks. As far as I’m concerned – they are the work of the devil or at least Right Wing Republicans.

What the books don't warn you about is that you will be knitting off all your pretty little stitches from your nice circular needles onto four of these double-pointy sticks. Your stitches have to be divided equally among the four double-pointy sticks of doom – but because they have two points there’s nothing to stop those stitches from going onto one point and falling off the other point. The books don't tell you how hard this is going to be. This. Is. Not. A. Good. Thing.

When you finally do manage on your own to keep all the stitches on the four double-pointy sticks, your next exercise in frustration is to knit around and around using your 5th dpn to knit the stitches off each double-pointy stick. And, all the while you are doing that, you are also counting stitches, placing stitch markers and then knitting two stitches together to gradually decrease the diameter of the hat to hopefully make the crown of the hat. Sounds like fun, doesn't it ??

Last night, I sat knitting on this long neglected hat -- struggling as I fought with pointy sticks, dropped stitches, doing yarn-overs left and right -- plus totally losing my place with the all the counting and decreasing. The print-outs and books weren't much help - the printed words kept blurring from all the tears.

At this point my husband tried to gently suggest that perhaps working on the hat while I was frustrated wasn’t a good idea. Through clenched teeth, I informed him that “I like knitting – it relaxes me!”
As a spouse of many years, he went back to his television program and didn’t utter another word (he is truly a wise man).

Hours later, after much grumbling, groaning and grinching - the hat is finished.
It isn’t pretty.
In fact, the hat is lumpy and definitely has a hole in the crown – but, I think it will fit a small human child (or maybe it can be used to keep melons warm).

I still despise the dpns (aka double-pointy sticks) and the whole counting/decreasing thing – they are all truly evil. But, I did finish my first hat and you know what they say - - -
“What doesn’t destroy us – makes us stronger”

Now I think I go look for some blue yarn and cast on for another hat – but this time it will be easier, I just know it.

Keep your fingers crossed for me !