Posted on March 18, 2005 at 8:53 am

Opal_yummySpeaking of socks(because isn’t everyone speaking of socks?), I’m going to cast on for a plain old pair as travel knitting out of this delicious skein.  I want to knit my ballet neck cardigan, I want to make progress on PS136, but since I am going to be spending much of the next three days following a small boy around the houses of cousins and through museums, I think mindless, don’t-have-to-look-at-it socks is the perfect thing to take with me.  And that’s all. That’s right, I am only going to take one project to knit for my four day trip.  Not like Juno, who arrived for the two day weekend with four knitting projects in tow (hey, I understand: you just never know what mood might strike, but four? kidding).  For me, just one.  I will be extra careful not to forget anything essential to knitting socks, and therefore, I will only need just one thing to knit.  Besides, there are knitting stores in Chicago (thanks for the advice everyone who chimed in), but I am unlikely to be too impulsive, because I have a new knitting ethos. 

I’ve been blogging for almost a year now, and one of the side effects of blogging for me has been how dissatisfied I have been with my own knitting lately. Silly as it may seem, competent a knitter as I am, spoiled by good fortune and great yarn stores and a generous friends as I have been, I keep knitting stuff I don’t like. This must be, I have decided, because I have many more motivations for knitting a sweater than I ever thought about before.

1. I knit some sweaters because everyone else is knitting them:  It’s true, I knit some sweaters because everyone else is knitting them.  When I
first started blogging, the knit-along phenomenon caught me up, and I
found it great fun to race through the same sweater that everyone else
was knitting. It was the community of it all, the competition perhaps
of finishing in the front of the pack, the hopes that a sweater so
popular must be universally flattering.  But finally — on the brink of
buying $170 dollars worth of Silk Garden — I realized as a six foot
tall woman with a size 18 butt, that Karalund’s horizontal midriff just
isn’t the right thing for me.

2. I knit some sweaters because I am impulsive and disorganized:  Because the yarn spoke to me in the yarn store, through colour or texture, there was something about that yarn that made me want to knit with it, and I rifled through the patterns on hand (never able to remember what is bookmarked in the library at home) and found something suitable.  When this gets home, I often file them away and maybe never even start them.  The glamour of the impulse buy wears off, the yarn and the pattern become separated never to be re-united, and ultimately, perhaps, I knit the yarn into something else, something bookmarked in the library, and have gobs left over, or not enough to finish.

3: I knit some sweaters because I want to look like someone else: I dream about these sweaters.  They were in a magazine or a Rowan book, and I wear holes in the pages stroking the paper covetously, wanting the sweater for my own, wanting the sweater because somehow I think that it will make me look more like the slim model with the perfectly disheveled hair, perhaps, in the right light, with a stylist on hand.  And when I finish those sweaters, I put them on and I am disappointed because there is nothing about the sweater that is flattering.  These sweaters have waistlines that can’t find mine, or accentuate my mommy tummy, or fail to cover my pantylines in the yoga pants I insist on wearing because nothing else is comfortable (this from a woman who at 16 thought sans-a-belt pants advertized on The Price is Right were gross, and that women in doubleknit slacks should be floated out to sea. What a little twit I was.  The comfort of Yoga pants must be the revenge of Sears and Roebuck.)

4: I knit some sweaters because I need them: Knowing when I embark on the journey of that sweater, often a arctic stretch of stockinette without texture or colour play, that this sweater will be good for the wardrobe.  I think of Norma‘s Pure Vanilla as a good example, since I have none to show of my own because I never finish them.  There’s a finished back for a black cashmere cardigan hanging in a grocery bag on a doorknob in the parlor.  Someday I’ll get to the right front.

5: I knit some sweaters because they are fulfilling:  Some sweaters, a very few sweaters, are the kind of sweater that my friends say "Oh, that’s so YOU."  All of these sweaters have a family resemblance, it’s true.  There’s a lot of colour somewhere in them, from a fair-isle border, or intarsia about the hemline.  They all float free of the body,  and they are all difficult, in the general scale of knitting difficulty. So they are rare.  I knit them for fun, and I wear them for the same reason.  I don’t care about how big they make me look, because really, they are quite by accident the right scale and shape for me.  These are favorites, and most of them in my sweater stack are over ten years old.  So why haven’t I knit one of these for awhile?  Well, I have hopes that PS 136 will turn out to be one.  And I have fallen madly in love with Di Gilpin’s Little Wing Jacket from the Shorelines book (I have a copy because I have a thoughtful friend who picked it up for me in the UK).  These sweaters take longer to make, and I’ve been hungry for quick pay-offs lately, as in, the most recent two years of my life.

I was reading Kay’s thoughts about her most recent finished garment, unhappy as she is with the gestalt of sleeve cables, and I knew very well what it was she was saying.    I will knit no more sweaters that I stuff in the drawer to be willfully overlooked.  I will think these things through, I will keep a want to knit journal and carry it in my purse,  I will resist the pretty yarn and chic photography and the peer pressure, I will embrace the Zen of Margene, and I will knit defensively.  I am vowing from henceforth the get my quick fixes from socks, and to be more disciplined about the sweaters I choose to knit. 

Would someone make me a button, please?  I think this needs a button.