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October 11, 2011 / Gillian

The Fixer

I started picking up speed today on the sweater.  Now that I’m into the neckline on the front side it’s suddenly feeling doable again.  If I can make it through this sweater then maybe everything else isn’t as ridiculous as it seems.  The sweater, I realize, is exactly the sort of thing that I have strict rules about not doing during the holiday season.  Usually it’s a strict must-have-a-pattern policy, but I clearly make exceptions for Alice to whom I cannot say no.  And honestly, how could I say no to such an interesting challenge.  It’s all kinds of intriguing, like a fun puzzle.

This evening was knitting night, which is usually sort of relaxing and stressful by turns.  Knitting did actually get done tonight, though I had to answer a question from the nutty lady as soon as I got there.  Before I even sat down she had this old sock project out that she had started years ago and she wants to finally finish them.  She’d gotten to the heel and wasn’t certain what to do because she couldn’t remember which needle was the first needle.  These sorts of situations make me crazy because she’s been looking at the pattern for over a week now, I know because I saw her with it last week.  And, even if she’s just picked it back up after a long hiatus, she’s still more familiar with the pattern than am I.  Honestly I’m probably only perturbed about it because her craziness makes my brain shut down, but still.

sigh

Like it or not (and I usually do like it), as a more experienced knitter in the group I’ve sort of gained a reputation as a teacher, but more so as a fixer of problems.  When I relearned how to knit I didn’t have anyone around to teach me so I just had to learn it all again on my own.  Every problem I encountered I had to solve by sheer force of will, so now people come to me because what that has made me good at is diagnosing problems.  Some problems are more easily solved than others and this really wasn’t such a hard one, but again…crazy lady.  I should develop some sort of problem solving protocol about it.  Perhaps I’ll do that down the road.

For now, here’s what happened.  The problem was that she couldn’t remember which needle was the first needle.  She was still on the leg of the sock so needles hadn’t been moved around yet which means our task was fairly simple.  The leg of a sock is a tube.  If you can’t remember where your first needle is, go to the cast on edge and find the tail of your yarn.  Follow that tail directly up the tube to your needles.  The needle to the left of the tail will be your first needle.  Failing that, if you for whatever reason already wove in your starting tail or by some other trick you’re unable to do this you need to look at the pattern.  If it’s something that repeats regularly around  you may be unable to figure out the first needle, but if you’ve got a sock that’s maybe different on the front than the back you can tell where you’ve begun.  In this case I can’t even figure out why she even asked me because part of the heel directions involved splitting the third needle with 40 stitches into 2 needles with twenty a piece.  Clearly if she knew what the third needle was it was completely obvious which one the first needle was so can you see why I think this woman is nutter butters?

There’s that and the fact that she read a book about the black death and how priests used combinations of herbs, lavender for one, to ward off the plague and from this she surmised that lavender could stop one from getting the plague…yeah.  She’s on the cutting edge of modern medieval medicine that one.  So this week maybe a little more stressful than relaxing.  I wouldn’t miss it for the world though.

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