Back from the dead

I had the flu this week.  Hamthrax.  Porcine pox.  THE flu.  H1N1.  AKA swine flu.  (Why does the official name sound like a score to me?  Humans: 1…)

I was struck down less than 24 hours after my last post — I hope I didn’t get any of you sick.  I am not totally healthy today but what a difference it makes to not have a fever constantly.  Scary as it is to say, I think my case was mild, but it still took me out for three days.  The prevailing thought I had while sick was of how uncomfortable I was in my own skin.  I knew I was better this morning when I woke up, put my feet on the floor, and realized I felt like me again instead of some meat puppet with a box-a-day tissue habit.

Anyway.  My advice to you: don’t get the flu.

I did some knitting although mostly on the leg of the second Jaywalker.  I did do some sewing on the Urban Aran Cardi but I didn’t make it very far.  Not enough to comment here.  Mostly I read.  Reading was a better escape for me than TV.  I finished a short story collection, Mothers and Other Monsters by Maureen McHugh.  It was good overall.  Now I am reading Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore.  Very funny.  One of my girlfriends is a Moore fan so this may only be the beginning.

Since I continue to have a lack of finished objects to parade by and that is, of course, one of the big thrills for a knitting blog, I thought I might entertain you in the meantime with some goodies from the vault.

My first handknit socks:

Not only are these my first socks but they are also my first ever finished project.  I was taught to knit in second grade — the teacher allowed us to stay inside and knit with her during recess in winter; my project was a burgundy acrylic scarf which is yet unfinished and I still hope will surface in my parents’ house someday — but I didn’t stick with it.  I tried to pick up crochet a few times in college but my gauge was so tight it made my hands hurt (this is not an issue any longer).  Then comes the corporate job post-college and I expressed to my friend Liz who was totally gone for knitting that I might like to learn.  So one day we skipped lunch and drove to a yarn shop.  She decided I was a smart cookie like herself and that I should knit socks — like herself.

I used Fortissima Colori and Nancy Bush’s Classic Sock pattern from Folk Socks.  Liz helped me cast on, we reviewed knitting and purling, and then she sent me on my way to knit a 2×2 ribbed leg.  It was really really slow going for me for a while, trying to keep track of knits and purls when I could barely tell if I had done a stitch correctly on top of learning a knitter’s dexterity of handling two needles and the working yarn with only two hands.  She made a point of not teaching me either English or Continental style to see what I would do naturally (she had recently discovered Zilboorg’s Knitting for Anarchists).  The answer: Continental . . . and no, I am not left handed.  For the record, Liz knits English style.

After my first weekend alone with the sock leg, we met up so she could check my progress.  I showed her my few inches of leg, very proud.  She stared and stared, her look growing increasingly troubled.  Turns out I had been knitting on the inside of the leg!  She didn’t know how to fix it and was worried I had to rip it all out.  “No biggie,” I said and flipped the leg inside out.  Now the action was on the outside.  At the time I didn’t think much of it but I think this was a significant moment for me as a knitter because I was not taken hostage by my project and its problems.  Also the deceptively simple solution may have only been visible to me at that time because of beginner’s mind.  I love beginner’s mind.

Another funny bit that happened in the making of these socks: we were knitting during lunch, in the cafeteria, and there was a nearby table of about six women who were also knitting.  I had never paid attention to them before but of course how could I miss them now — fellow knitters!  As the lunch rush died down and the room emptied out, they came to check us out and were very impressed that we were knitting socks and that our needles were so tiny.  I think they were making baby garments.  One of the women became almost belligerent toward Liz when we explained that I was also learning how to knit.  “That’s too hard!  You can’t have her knit socks as her first project!  She’ll hate knitting!”  Au contraire.

I was amazed, truth be told, because it had not occurred to me that any of this should be difficult.  Not because I have a fat head but because I trusted Liz and because I was working hard but enjoying the process.  Yeah it was frustrating at times but I never once thought if the yarn were bigger it would be easier.  What moved me along was watching the pretty colors emerge and seeing the yarn become a sock.  I’m not suggesting everyone should follow the same path but rather, to each her own.

Life distracted me for a time — getting married, quitting my job, going to graduate school, that kind of thing.  I worked on my beautiful rainbow socks steadily but extremely slowly. It was a year later, in the car  with my brother and my husband that I bound off the first sock and cast on the second.  Or attempted to cast on the second.  I had been a year, after all.  I may have cried horrible tears that made both men cringe while I tried to remember how to cast on from two pamphlets in my lap and my poor, poor memory.  This crying may have gone on for an uncomfortable length of time.  But you know what?  I figured it out and had the second sock started before we reached our campsite.

It wasn’t until I was in grad school later that year and needed something relaxing to fill a few hours with that I took to knitting like a thirsty person loves water.  That’s when I finished these socks and, with a little sniff, tucked them away to give to my sister as a holiday present because I had made them too small for my own feet.  The thought of ripping back the toes to make them longer was horrid to me.  I was still new enough to knitting that every stitch was precious.

The best part?  I saw my first socks, now six years old, yesterday when my mom came over to be my nurse/play with her grandkids.  I’m glad they’re still keeping people warm!

I found my “spaceship” yesterday.  We had a spectacular sunset last night but sadly this photo only captures a fraction of it; the colors were much more intense.  Most of the leaves have fallen.  We put 37 bags on the curb last weekend and we’re not done yet.

  3 comments for “Back from the dead

  1. Charlotte Mayhew
    November 9, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Sorry to hear you’ve been sick, but I’m glad you’re on the other side of it! Great story about the socks. I still have ~7 pairs of unfinished socks on the needles. I like the legs and the heels are okay, but not so much the feet. oh well.

  2. November 11, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Loved the post, yey socks! I’m contemplating turning the heel on my tofutsie (sp) socks soon.

    …My main question…why are you throwing all those leaves away?! Two words: LEAF MOLD! fabulous mulch for your flower gardens!

    Love you dear, glad to hear you are on the mend. ~L

  3. November 13, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Charlotte, you should stick with wrist warmers!

    Lori, the leaf question is far from simple. Last year, I kept them all. This year, I am most of them away (this is the year of the baby when all shortcomings are forgiven). There are A LOT of leaves. If I used them all to mulch my flower AND vegetable garden beds, the mulch would probably be 5 feet deep. No kidding.

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