When I passed my driving test (23 years ago – yeek!) my lovely but delightfully eccentric driving instructor looked at me seriously and said, “And now, you must learn to drive.” He meant, of course, that learning to pass one’s test is a little different from learning to be a competent driver. He had a point. (This was one of the more conventional things that he said, bless ‘im. During our lessons in rural south Wales, he’d always make me drive over one particular crossroads in the middle of the woods beeping my horn because, he said, there was a mad psychiatrist living locally who drove this junction without stopping to look. Oh, and he had an unshakeable terror of drivers wearing hats. This really was the only thing that scared him, despite the many near-death experiences that I inflicted on him. And he had Denis Healey eyebrows. But he was wonderful, and perfect for a nervous learner like me, and I hope that if he’s still alive, all is well and rosy in his life.)
But I digress.
The point is, there is a Correct Way To Drive, or to knit (or to crochet, but let’s just stick with knitting tonight – I’m in a knitty mood.) And there are also some pragmatic deviations from this. Knitting books are great, but they only take you so far, don’t they? They don’t teach you about the knitting equivalent of the mad psychiatrist who never stops at crossroads. (I’m not sure what that particular equivalent is…) The books are useful for a nifty diagram about how to do mattress stitch – a technique at which I’m persistently rubbish – but they’re woefully unforthcoming on some of the most important skills for Knitting In The Real World, skills such as the following, offered here for your amusement and general edification. So here goes:-
1. How to knit whilst being climbed by toddlers.
This is a tricky one, and let’s face it, you’re unlikely to produce your best work whilst a couple of three-year-olds are exploring your inner ear cavity or having a competition to see who can pull off your nose. <Voice of experience> First-off, you need to avoid injuring the toddlers – or yourself – so I’d recommend using short wooden circular needles rather than any seriously pointy metal straights. Much as I love my Knitpro (Knitpicks in non-Europe) interchangeable circulars (and I promise that nobody paid me to say that), I recently had to knit with 30cm-long 2mm metal straights and honestly, it’s a miracle that both I and my children still have all our eyes ungouged. Nothing is more terrifying than a small child launching themselves at you whilst you’re clutching a knitting needle. Anyway, if the twinnage is present, I usually hold my knitting away from my body, keeping my arms loose, so that if I’m being climbed from the left, I can swing my work over to the right, and vice versa. It sort of works.
Generally, it doesn’t go well for long. Five minutes later, the knitting is usually abandoned and I’m busy reading The Gruffalo. Again. I may yet have to knit a Gruffalo.
2. Knitting with wine.
Ah, now here I’m on more confident, if slightly inebriated, ground.
Many people on Ravelry say that they can’t knit drunk, and will always wind up regretting it and frogging back. That’s not been my experience. Knitting with a glass of wine beside me in front of a roaring log fire is my idea of lazy evening heaven, and I’ve never yet known it end in woolly disaster. The key thing is this: if you can maintain attention to detail, then you can knit. Watch your tension, though.
Personally, it’s not alcohol but strong emotion that scuppers my knitting. (‘Tis lucky I’m not a very emotional person.) In the photos of my blog header I posted recently, there’s a round of stitches that stands out an ugly mile to me because it’s too bunched up and tight. Confession: t’was knitted when I was in a proper old grump. And I once completely messed up a lacy design when knitting whilst having a fierce debate with my (utterly-lovely-just-misguided-on-this-particular-point) aunt. I then compounded this with the even greater error of judgement of attempting to correct said mistake whilst still cross. Not clever.
More tomorrow, people.