My grandmother never expected me to stick with yarn work. When I asked her to teach me, I think she was surprised, and even moreso that I persevered and became good at it. Later, I added knitting to my repertoire, but was never able to master the art of tatting (using carefully-crafted knots to create delicate lace).
It was many years after my grandmother first taught me to crochet that someone taught me the ‘proper’ way to finish a piece of crocheted work. Given my preference for putting a nicely punctuated end to large projects, I always thought it best to take the tail end of my yarn and yank it through a knot—but I never could figure out how to hide the knot. On every early piece of work I did, it stuck out as a visual reminder of Where The Piece Ended. My grandmother—whom I learned the tactic from—was always able to hide her knots, but mine always stuck out.It was Jeff’s mother, many years later, who unknowingly taught me the correct way, by sitting on the couch and finishing a project of her own. She wasn’t attempting to instruct me, just talking quietly with me as she finished her work. At the time, I was too intimidated to ask her why she clipped her yarn several inches longer than she had to, and then spent extra time patiently weaving in the ends with a smaller crochet hook.
I filed the knowledge away and tried it out on my next project. To my surprise, the un-knotted end was not prone to unraveling, and the end, once woven in, was invisible to the eye.
I don’t do nearly as much yarn work as I should. In chilly collegiate dorm rooms, it was a way to pass a quiet evening in my room and stay warm at the same time; the end result was that I gave everyone afghans as presents. I would watch television while working, allowing my mind to drift while I counted stitches.
Years passed. I discovered that I needed bifocals when moving my eyes back and forth from my knitting to the television caused excruciating eyestrain headaches. A local yarn shop in town introduced me to the wonders (and priciness) of luxury yarn, and there was no going back.
For the past three years I’ve been stockpiling yarn for some heretofore unknown Large Project, but I haven’t known what, exactly, I wanted to do with it. From scouting yarn shops, I’ve ended up with a large variety of chenille-like yarns in soft shades of blues, greens, and pure white. I’ve known that I’ve wanted to make an afghan for myself for quite some time, but not known the pattern.
This is unusual for me. The rasta hat notwithstanding, I almost never keep any of my work; it’s infinitely more fun to give away. I have all the blankets I could ever need, and it’s much nicer to go to someone’s house and see your work being loved and used, rather than stored away and kept for ‘special occasions.’ (Oh, there is little I despise more…)
Now that the hat is finished, my next task is to take out all the work I did on Kat’s scarf and re-start it. I was half done with the beautiful mohair scarf when I set it aside for—okay, I admit it, a year—and then I picked it up once again while Dad was in the hospital—only to run out of yarn.
I’ve found a similar yarn, but it is quite obviously not an exact substitute. I need to take out all the work I’ve done so far, and restart the scarf in a pattern that will allow me to use up both yarns I’ve found.
After that, I’m either going to start on the afghan (which I think will be an afghan of knitted patchwork diamonds, so that I can practice knitting AND use up a lot of different yarns I have lying around.
Along the way, I’m thinking that I’ll break down and buy enough of a British yarn (Rowan Kidsilk Haze, shown here at just about actual size, is a yarn I fell in love with back in Little Rock) for a small project, like a scarf. See here for a review, which actually does the yarn justice. The yarn is a bit expensive—don’t ask! really!—but I’m thinking that perhaps I could make it into a Christmas present for someone.
I don’t know.
I just know that when we were in the hospital with Dad, I rediscovered how much more sense the world made when I had knitting needles in my hands. It felt good, quietly finishing my hat at three a.m. this past week and then grabbing my crochet hook to weave in the ends. Few things in life ever truly finish, and the satisfaction of taking a crochet hook and tidying up a truly finished project is more than can easily be explained to someone who has never knitted.