This is my first blogpost for over 3 years. There are reasons, but I won’t bore you.
I have lived with my partner for 17+ years, the majority of which time has been harmonious. We don’t shout, we muddle along through thick and thin and we have grown accustomed to the other’s little eccentricities, of which I undoubtedly possess more than he.
One of the things he can’t help but point out to me is that I find it difficult to follow a new recipe in the kitchen without changing it. Decades of catering for a moderately large family and an interest in many creative arts including culinary ones have given me a certain amount of knowledge and insight which I like to think I can put to good use. And so when I try a new recipe I will sometimes….often…ok, usually if not always…..make alterations as I go along because something sounds as if it would be better if….
“Why don’t you just follow the recipe once, the first time, and then change it if you need to?” He has a point. Why don’t I? Because, clearly, I think I know better. The adult children never stop delighting in reminding me of the disaster of 1990 now known as “Cardboard Pie”. I may simply be conceited, or it may be that I do know better, but we will never know because if I don’t change the recipe as I go along I start to twitch.
I don’t like being told what to do. I recently knitted a pair of socks using Regia’s “Pairfect “ sock yarn. This, for those who have yet to come across it, is a 100g ball of yarn that has a leader at the beginning and half way through the ball to tell you when you should start the second sock so as to achieve a matching pair.
I bought this yarn for one reason though – it produced 1.5cm-ish stripes in 2 colours and satisfied my desire for simple geometry. I didn’t need the leaders. The first thing I did was ignore the advice to cut off the leader and decided to use it as a design feature. You will notice that the yellow leaders are not the same length in both socks, a thing I have decided to ignore since the ribbing will be somewhere up inside a man’s trouser leg and invisible to all but the most intimate of friends.
I certainly didn’t need, nor predict, that the stripe pattern would change when the ball of yarn decided it was time for me to turn the heel. This I did not like, because I knit my socks quite long in the leg. I just do. I have a thing about ankle socks that are too short. I like a good length of 2×2 rib around the cuff – about 8 cm – and then I like to turn the heel when the need grabs me, or the colours in the yarn dictate.
Anyway, I finished this pair of socks successfully, and actually I like them even though the leg is slightly shorter than I would prefer. Good result. But it made me a little bad tempered.
It’s a control thing.
Which brings me, finally, to the point of this blogpost. Many moons ago – certainly more than 5 years – I attended the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate, UK, and while I was there purchased some yarn that excited me at the time. It was Noro Sock Silk Garden, and I bought enough of it in 2 different colour ways to make 2 sleeveless cardigans for myself. Yup. Not socks at all, because I knew better.
And the point of THAT is that I am one of those irritating men who gets very hot all the time. Put me in a sweater made of wool with sleeves and you risk me stripping naked to cool down after 10 short minutes. Not a pretty sight at my age, I can tell you.
So this yarn seemed perfect. Interesting colours, a percentage of silk to replace the sweat-inducing wool, self-striping for added interest without effort.
It was a major error. MAJOR. I made the first jacket 3 times before giving up and putting it in the “useless” drawer. I didn’t like the look of it before I put it on my back, but once there it added at least 20 years to my true age. Which meant I should really be on the other side.
See what I mean?
I tried the second colour way:
Perhaps worse; certainly no better. Reminds me of a sad camel. Into the drawer it went and there it has stayed for 2 house-moves. I couldn’t bring myself to unravel it because I simply couldn’t think what to do with any of it. And it wasn’t cheap.
Until yesterday. It’s nearly Christmas and when I looked in my finished-object drawer full of socks I discovered to my horror that not one of them would fit my father, who has very small feet. Actually smaller than they were 20 years ago. Hmmm. Note to self.
I have 3 (rather busy) days to find a gift for a man who needs nothing, wants nothing, but is repeatedly delighted with a pair of hand knitted socks from his middle son, even if said son is a bit camp. My partner, bless him, suggested that I made my father a pair of socks slightly thicker than usual. This is what Winnie-the-Pooh would call a VERY GOOD IDEA. They would grow faster, the chances are my father, lacking a certain amount of vision and manual dexterity, would be able to get them on better and his feet would be warmer. He used to get hot too.
Off to my stash. Not a single ball of sock yarn heavier than…..well, sock weight. Nowhere. 10,000 balls of yarn and not a single one.
But then, in the middle of the night I thought of the useless drawer. There were many balls of useless Noro yarn, knitted up and un-knitted, that would be perfect. Out came the 3.25mm needles. On went 48 stitches instead of the usual 60-64, and within 24 hours a sock was almost born.
And the best/worst/most horrible realisation about all of this is…….I like it. I absolutely like the sock that has been made from the Noro yarn intended for socks. I like the way the colours merge, I like the density of the fabric, I like the feeling of the silk in the yarn; still not sure about the uneven texture produced by the spin, but even that I can forgive. I’ve never been one for the rustic feel.
And the lessons learned today? two of them:
- I must write my blog. I enjoy it, even if nobody reads it
- Don’t try to fix something before you know it doesn’t work.
Now, I have a drawer full of Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn – I suspect a lot of people are getting socks for Christmas.