Thursday, November 21, 2013

Oh, go knit a turkey!

It's hard to believe that three years have passed since I knitted Terrie the Turkey from Susan B. Anderson's wonderful pattern, a free download from Spud and Chloë yarns.  If you compare the photos of my Terrie Turkey--named for a former friend--with the "Tiny Turkey" on the Spud and Chloë page, you'll see that my Terrie is rather overstuffed, or, to use the favored euphemism, "Rubensesque." There are two reasons for this.

Terrie nesting on a bed of lettuce in the greenhouse.
One is that this was the first knitted toy I'd ever made and I went somewhat overboard with the fiberfill. The other is that American poultry breeders favor big-breasted birds. Neighbors of mine in deeply rural Rhode Island raise chickens known as Cornish Crosses. These genetically-engineered blobs are so big-breasted that by six weeks of age they can barely walk because of top-heaviness. (Thus the short, unhappy life of native fowl.) So I guess that Terrie is actually somewhat realistic, insofar as a knitted turkey can be realistic. Also, I didn't knit her feet, which adds to the general impression of instability.

She will, as in past Thanksgivings, be the star of the table's centerpiece.

I'm giving you-all the heads up because there's still time before your feast to make yourself and your loved ones a knitted turkey or even a small flock. You have nothing else to do, right?

Meanwhile, there are a few things I need to get off my chest. In past Novembers, as Thanksgiving approaches, I've gone through a few songs-and-dances about my pet issues at this time of year. The first is Buy Nothing Day, aka Black Friday. I urge all of you knitters and your sisters and your cousins and your aunts to ignore the media-contrived shopping frenzy and turn this into Knit Something Day. If you send me photos of what you're knitting on November 29th, I shall post them on this blog.

I'd also like to remind those of you who live in this area of New England that the annual Buy Nothing Day Winter Coat Exchange takes place, both on the State House lawn in Providence and ancillary sites around the state and in Seekonk, MA.  Click here for addresses. If you have a warm coat to donate, drop it off. And if you need a coat, pick one up. No money is exchanged, only good will and positive energy.

So, gentle knitters, here's the drill: knit a turkey, celebrate Thanksgiving, drop off a coat to celebrate Buy Nothing Day, knit something to celebrate Knit Something Day (November 29th) while relaxing in the serenity of your unshopaholic life, and email me photos of your creations, which I shall post on the blog for general admiration. In advance I thank you ever so much for your contributions, and wish you all a lovely holiday and great leftovers, which as we all know, are the best part of the meal.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Finishing the (metaphorical) hat...

That song from Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George has been ear-worming me recently.

So many projects, so little time! Then, in the latest Vogue Knitting (Holiday 2013) there's an interview with Esteemed Knitting Crone Barbara G. Walker who admonishes everyone to finish, finish, finish before starting anything new:  "My most basic advice to other knitters is:  Always finish your project, even if you're dying to start that much more interesting new thing."

Ipse dixit.  Okay, okay.

So I started finishing stuff.  More because of my inner Sondheim than the other guru. Socks, mostly. I don't suffer from SSS (Second Sock Syndrome). I do finish a pair at a time. It's just that I usually have three or four pairs going at once. Maybe I suffer from Sixth Sock Syndrome....

This race to the finish line, it was like wrestling with inner demons. There are about six thousand new projects I want to, I want to, I want to...

But no.  I must finish what I've started, just as BGW says. And, as Sondheim envisions Seurat, there is an appealing romantic driven intensity to the artist in thrall to his creative vision/compulsion.


Left to right, a week's finishing work:  for Caeden (18 months), for Bettina G., for moi, for Ellen (still being finished).
I'm not proud to say that pair #3, faux cables in a beautifully soft Swans Island lilac fingering weight merino took me almost two years.  The central portion of each sock was mostly done during two round-trips on Amtrak from Westerly, RI to Philadelphia, PA--ten hours per trip, in the Quiet Car where talking and all other noisy distractions are verboten.

Was it worth it? No, she said unequivocally. The socks are lovely, but confirmed to me loud and clear that I am not a detail-oriented knitter. Or, put another way, I become hysterical and unpleasant when I have to concentrate on a complicated pattern. So, never again to this pattern.

But at least I finished them....

And when the woman that you wanted goes,
You can say to yourself, "Well, I give what I give."
But the woman who won't wait for you knows
That however you live,
There's a part of you always standing by,
Mapping out the sky,
Finishing a hat...
Starting on a hat...
Finishing a hat...
Look I made a hat...
Where there never was a hat.

(Stephen Sondheim, "Finishing the Hat" from Sunday in the Park with George.)