Some years ago, when I was laboring in the satanic mills of academia, an element of my survival strategy was, as one of my fave poets aptly wrote, to catch the joy as it flies. This meant that I deliberately sought random forms of cheap entertainment as a way to tune out the noisome atmosphere of the workplace. (Note: I still do this, but now rely on different rationales to justify my habit.) One principal diversion was an extremely hilarious blog--alas, defunct since 2006--called "You Knit What?" (www.youknitwhat.blogspot.com). On arriving at my office, I'd boot up the computer and, even before listening to officious voicemails, printing out my class plan, or scanning the crap retrieved from the faculty mailbox in the department lobby, immediately pull up "You Knit What?" anticipating a merriment injection strong enough to override the day's onslaught of neurotic encounters with my so-called colleagues.
Seldom was this blog disappointing. Its creators had a knack for finding pattern-book photos of hideous and demented-looking knitted articles that some very odd people, somewhere, had taken time to make. Commentary on these items, provided by the bloggers as well as readers, was usually as amusing as the items themselves, sometimes more so. Frequently I laughed so raucously that other faculty members on my floor noted the disturbance and made inquiries.
As the world has been bereft of "You Knit What?" for three years, I've rarely since had the opportunity to see a pattern as hideous as most of those featured on the blog. Except I suddenly find myself in the strange position of knitting something which, if not de facto hideous, is so weird that it's difficult to believe I'm actually continuing to work on this thing. But frankly, it's as if I'm spellbound. As I continue to knit, the thing in question becomes ever stranger, and I need to finish in order to find out exactly how strange it will be. The fascination of the abomination indeed.
Since you're now intensely curious to know what the abominable thing in question is, I shall confess: it is a set of "partner mittens" (www.coats.de/PDF/smc_paarhandschuh_engl.pdf). This is a free download from a German yarn company, Schackenmayr, and I should have known it was problematic when the instructions, horribly translated, made little or no sense and required two trips to Mystic River Yarns for consults with Gale McGee, who finally penetrated the mystery of the idiosyncratic language and helped me to continue.
Why am I doing this? Obviously it's not just about being enthralled by the weirdness of it all. It's because I'm making these mittens as a gift. But who would want a gift that looks as weird as this?
My dear friends B and F are perhaps the world's cutest couple d'un certain age. A few years ago they found each other--or re-found each other, since they'd been friends since college--while rehabilitating from painfully-terminated marriages. But now they have each other, are living together (very beautifully!), creating a life filled with joy and mutual respect. They are sometimes prone to PDAs, and as a way of supporting that inclination, I thought, "Why not make them a set of partner mittens?" The only pattern I could find online at the time of inquiry was that which I'm mashing my way through.
I'm just about finished with the partner mitten, a misshapen lump with two cuffs, that allows lovers to hold hands warmly. I made the man's left hand and the woman's right hand, realizing that some of the work would have to be ripped out and redone, since the measurements for thumb and finger length specified by the pattern are all wrong. But there you have it. I'm forging ahead. How will my dear friends respond to this gift? Should I even give it to them once it's completed? And so this tale is to be continued.
Coda: I just found this pattern online for "lovers' mittens," aka partner mittens: www.gallentine.org/Knitting/loversmitten.html It seems really sane. And so a new element enters the mix.