January 31, 2006

The Knots of Knot All That

I made a scarf/wrap for my mom a couple years back. It's of Manos Del Uruguay, in two shades of blue and one shade of grey. And of all the things I've knit, it's the item that has caused me the greatest pangs, and the greatest joy... even though it was not particularly difficult to knit.

At some point in the distant past I agreed to make my mom an Aran cabled cardigan vest. She chose the pattern and the yarn and the colors, and I cleverly figured out how to change the color between the panels of cabled designs in a way that would be subtle-but-lovely (I can’t leave a recipe alone, either, I don’t know what’s wrong with me – Irish distaste for being told what to do, I guess). I diligently knit the back and the bottom half of one side… and then didn’t finish it. I can’t remember why.

What I do know is that somehow I ended up dragging the pieces and the yarn around with me through multiple moves and two decades, always stored at the bottom of a huge carton of knitting detritus. And the further I got from the time of the promise, the harder it was to think about going back to it.

And of course I eventually lost the pattern, and I didn’t have the courage or experience (I’d only ever knit two sweaters at that point, both of them pullovers) to try to design a cardigan front. Not to mention the issue of my mother having gotten somewhat... cuddlier... in the intervening decades. The old vest would be unlikely to flatter the current mother.

So there I was, twenty years later, still dragging around those stupid pieces. Every time I looked at them I felt a terrible pang of guilt, because at that time I had still never knit my mom anything. I had stopped knitting for fifteen years, and when I started I did so in order to knit a couple baby sweaters for the Vampire, and then quit again for a while… busy, busy.

Those pieces - and the leftover partially-used balls - were a visible broken promise. They hung around my neck like the Ancient Mariner's albatross, just as heavy and accusatory (although probably not as stinky).

They were also a horrible waste of gorgeous yarn. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE Manos, the sheen and depth of it always gets to me. I don’t even mind having to pick out all those burrs and grassy bits (much).

So a couple years ago, when I came across that particular UFO again, I decided I was going to stop wasting that yarn and do something about it. I frogged the whole thing, re-blocked the rewound skeins, and designed… this. And gave it to Mom.

She was politely dubious about it at first. It’s a double layer, very thick, and it’s too wide and heavy to use as you would normally wear a scarf.

But Mom soon discovered that she could wrap it around her head and shoulders in any way she wished on those horrible below-freezing days we get in January and February here, and it would stay right where it was until she unwrapped it. And being a double layer as is, she didn’t have to deal with awkward, bulky double or triple winding. Now she loves it, nearly as much as I love her.

So we’re both happy. And guilt free.

Although I kind of wish I had had twice as much yarn, so that I could have made one for myself!


Blogger Tink said...

Oooooh, it's so pretty! I would really have no use for a scarf in Florida, but I want it all the same. :)

7:35 AM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

You kept the yarn for twenty years?


The scarf is wonderful. :)

12:08 PM  
Blogger mrspao said...

That's a great story. The scarf is really beautiful and a great use of the wool.

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful Celtic design, YUM! :)

2:12 PM  
Blogger mE said...

Tink~ My mom hasn't used it this year, either, what with the weird near tropical weather (30's in January, whoever heard of such a thing!), but maybe she will use it in the Famous July Blizzard of 2006?

Katherine~ Not only the yarn, but the yarn still knit up into those useless vest pieces. The strangest thing is that I'd bet that's not unheard of in the knitting community. We get very weird about our Unfinished Objects.

In my case, it was a fatal combination of shame/guilt and pack-rat-ism. I was doomed; if I hadn't figured out another way to use that yarn up, I have no doubt that I would have carried it with me to the Nursing Home...

Mrs. Pao~ Thanks! The design was somewhat dictated by the yarn - I wanted to use up as much as possible, since I thought of it as being my mom's yarn, and I would have felt like a thief if I'd kept it!

Sis~ re Celtic design... but of course! What else *could* it have been? :D

2:54 PM  
Blogger Ditsy Chick said...

Ahh, to have talent of any kind. I have to tell you I have been to your site a couple of times and I do not leave comments, because of fear. I fear these knitting blogs, because if I read too many of them I know I will want to try it and if I try it, I will become addicted and I CANNOT afford one more addiction in my life. Timewise or monetarily.

But your stories are more than about knitting, so I will be back.

Thanks for stopping in on my site.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

That is so cool! I adore knotwork. Certainly a very submittable pattern... :)

And lovely to be free of the guilt.

6:09 AM  
Blogger mE said...

DC~ You *definitely* have talent - I am in awe of your ability to think up interesting topics and write entertainingly about them! I love visiting your site - thanks for stopping on mine!

Chris~ You are a doll!

How are you feeling? Any chance you'll get your box tomorrow? :)

9:27 PM  

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