Thursday, March 09, 2006



…But it isn’t a verb.

In a previous post I mentioned that currently on the needles is a Baby Cable Rib sock from Charlene Schurch’s Sensational Knitted Socks. I’m knitting it from Reggia 4-ply Banner in Slate. And I am really enjoying knitting this sock. At least I am NOW.

A couple of hours after the picture was taken on Tuesday, I distributed the stitches to center the ribbing across the instep as the book instructed (or so I thought) and began knitting the heel flap. Near the end of the heel flap I discovered that I had re-distributed the stitches incorrectly and my stitches were going to be all screwed up.

I was assured by more-experienced sock knitters at the monthly Stitch n Bitch at the Museum of Contemporary Art that I could fudge it and that I didn’t have to rip back. I kept knitting, telling myself that the socks were only for me and that nobody else would know.

Surrounded by the chatter of my cohorts at the SnB, I kept knitting and turned the heel.

But when Wednesday dawned, I picked up the sock and started knitting. And there, without the chatter and clamber of the SnB to mask them, I could hear very clearly…the Voices in my head.

“See – this proves it. Knitting isn’t really a Craft. You make a mistake and just keep going. You can’t admit your mistake and take corrective measures! Amateur! Loser! Poser! Republican! Isn’t that just like you, Fat Boy? FUDGE it! FUDGE it! Your mother always did like Dennis best!” (I know it seems like that last one is a non-sequitor, but the Voices always throw that one in.)

“Shut up!” I told the Voices. “No one will ever know! J. & N. told me so! No one will ever know!”

The reply, short but laced with threat, came back quickly. WE will.”

I knew I could ignore the Voices for a little while, but there are more of them than there are of me. I could just see myself in a week, huddled in the back of the closet, petting the unfinished sock, muttering to myself, “My Precious. We’s doesn’t like the nasty Voices, does we my Precious? Precious is perfect! Precious is beautiful! Yes, Precious! Perfect... Beautiful... Precious...

Given my dislike for living in dark caves and eating live fish, I decided to wrest my future from the control of the Voices and create my own destiny. I decided to rip.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised that I had not put a lifeline in place anywhere in the knitting. A real shame, as I had to rip back to the last row of the pattern repeat, which was – just my luck – a row in which the ribbed cable is worked. So I strung some fine cotton yarn onto a needle and tried to put in place the best lifeline I could, not knowing if I was picking up the cabled stitches correctly. Then, lifeline – such as it was – complete, the sock came off the needle and the yarn started flying.

To make a really, really long story just really long, it appears as if I picked everything up correctly. I knit a couple of rows of the heel flap while watching Project Runway, then set it down and went to bed. I think the combination of the voices and the stress of ripping back had taken their toll. I was spent.

I slept quite well, and this morning picked up the sock and was pleased when none of the nasty little voices spoke up. They are gone. At least for now.

And I have learned important lessons.

I am a Craftsman, and knitting is my Craft. Honing my craft, perfecting my skills, and expanding my knowledge of my Craft are important to me. I have as much, if not more, interest in achieving a well executed product as I do in receiving recognition for my work. It does not matter if no one else knows about a mistake. If I know a flaw exists, it is a fatal flaw. And no longer will a knitted article be “just for me”. I deserve the best.

Because, to quote Stuart Smalley, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like me!”


bluecanary said...

Amen to that, brother! My philosopy is, you're putting so many hours into it anyway, you will be happier a)using the best quality materials appropriate for the project, and b)fixing mistakes that bug you. If the mistakes don't bug you, don't bother, but why have something bug you forever?

Also, come visit my blog today! I posted the ducky bootie prototype, and would like your opinion.

cat said...

Aidan AMEN! Boy I am so glad you said it, this is exactly what happens to me. Now I know I am not crazy, or I am not alone at being crazy LOL.

the fiddlin' fool said...

Well, to each their own, I suppose. Some people are also really bothered if a pair of variegated socks don't start exactly on the same color repeat. In the end, whatever makes you the happiest.

Sorry I led you down the garden path. :)

Paul said...


This has to be one of the best blog entries that I have ever read! The unfinished sock in the closet had me in tears! Thanks for writing, and be proud to have the integrity to rip and recreate the best sock you can make! Bravo!

Franklin said...

Well said!