May 27, 2011

It's the process

I'm sure most knitters have heard about the difference between process and product knitters. Process knitters knit for the sake of knitting and aren't terribly concerned with the finished project. If a project is boring or not working out or not enjoyable for whatever reason, a process knitter will usually just stop knitting it. This often makes them bad deadline and gift knitters.

Product knitters, on the other hand, are in it for the finished item. They will endure tedium, endless ripping and reknitting, cramped hands, and yarn that doesn't feel good to knit with, all for the sake of the end result.

Guess which kind I am? Yeah. Process knitter all the way. Which makes me 1) likely to give away my knitted items - on the rare occasions I actually finish something - because I don't really care about the end result and 2) extraordinarily likely to grow bored, frustrated or give up when the knitting isn't going my way.

And yes, it also makes me an extraordinarily tardy gift knitter. As I believe has been amply demonstrated in the past.

Given my aversion to knitting that isn't both easy and fun, I've surprised myself by undertaking (and sticking with) a pattern that I'm genuinely not enjoying: Annis, from Knitty.

Through no fault of the pattern or the designer, I hate knitting this thing. I hate the slippery metal needles. I hate the long purl back rows. And I hate all the nupps. Good lord do I hate the nupps.

It's possible I've even begun referring to the pattern as "Anus." Which is fitting, because in this pink, it bears a disturbing resemblance to a pile of intestines:



The sad part is, I was excited about the nupps at first. I'd never made a nupp. I was going to learn something new! It was going to be great fun! And, wow, was I wrong.

Now, if you've never nupped, a nupp* is made by repeatedly knitting and yarn-overing into the same stitch to create (in the case of Anus, er, Annis), 7 stitches out of 1. On the purl back row, you PURL ALL OF THE STITCHES YOU JUST MADE TOGETHER. This makes a wee nub on your knitting, kind of like a bobble, but flatter.

The problem is: Purling three stitches together is pushing it. But seven? Pure horror.


For the first few nupps, I was sure it was actually impossible to correctly execute a purl 7 together. Surely, this was some sort of cruel joke. Then I realized I could do it (slowly and excruciatingly) if I used a size 2 needle. The first nupp row (with 30 nupps total) took me two hours. Then I did the same thing with another ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY NUPPS.


But now I can proudly say two things: First, I have made nupps my bitch.

And more importantly, I never, ever have to knit another one as long as I live. Such is the joy of being a process knitter.

* If you're curious about the difference between nupps and bobbles, or want an explanation involving less distracting use of the word "anus", Knitpicks has a nifty bit about them here.

Just a jump to the left

I've been knitting a really lovely pair of socks, my second pair of Artichoke Socks, in Madelinetosh Tosh Sock (colorway "Kale", or as I like to think of it, "KALE!!!"). I've touted the charms of this pattern before: it's pretty, easily memorizable, charmingly symmetrical, and shows off a lightly variegated yarn like nobody's business.

Also, being the giant dork about vegetables that I am, it pleases me to no end to knit "Artichoke" socks in a colorway called "Kale".

And while I thoroughly enjoyed the last pair I knit in Shibui Sock, it's even more pleasing in Madelinetosh, which somehow even in the dark smoky purple-grey Kale colorway glows with a magical inner light possessed by no other 100% wool yarn I've ever seen.


I swear there's some silk snuck into the mix. Or some obscure alchemy on the part of the dyer. Whatever it is, it's wonderful and I want many, many more balls of the stuff.

The one problem I've had is that the pattern is kind of a pain to work on DPNs. Each row starts with a Purl 1, which always looks bad at the beginning of a needle (if you're me). After that P1, there's a few columns of ribbing, then the symmetrical front of leg pattern, then a few more columns of ribbing, then the same symmetrical branching leaves pattern on the back of the leg. Using 4 DPNs, the logical way to divide the pattern among 3 needles seemed to be:

Needle 1: purl 1, ribbing, first half of leaf pattern
Needle 2 (1/2 of stitches): second half of leaf pattern, ribbing, first half of leaf pattern
Needle 3: ribbing, second half of leaf pattern, ribbing

For whatever reason, I could not grasp this set-up. I kept bungling the second half of the leaf pattern because logically (to me) needle 2 is the start of the front of the leg and should always start with the FIRST half of a repeat. I do realize this is not actually true, but my brain and hands were quite insistent that this was absolutely the case and kept sneaking in a K2TOG where there should have been a SSK.

There was a really obvious solution to this: I scootched things a bit to the left, so that the entire front of the leg was on needle 2.

And just like that, with a wee shift, suddenly the pattern flowed for me in a way that it absolutely hadn't before.


In keeping with my knitting, my job search has taken a jump to the left as well. For most of my career, I've worked in the corporate world: a corporate law firm, a multi-national consulting company, a fine publisher of cooking magazines and cookbooks, back to the multi-national consulting company, etc.

In keeping with this corporate background, I'd applied for a bunch of jobs in my field: enterprise-level HR information systems analysis. And I'd gotten exactly 0 bites. Not one damn phone call.

This was disheartening.

Until I thought about it differently - I never really felt like the corporate world was a good fit for me. I went to library school specifically because I was interested in rabble-rousing activist public library work. Helping corporations make more money for the sake of making money never seemed like a great way to spend one's life.

And suddenly, there it was: I should be applying at nonprofits. And just like that, everything shifted - every job I've applied for I've gotten an interview. Several interviews in most cases.

I think maybe the universe is trying to tell me something...