I knit. Not as obsessively as I once did, but every single day for sure. For a few years a few years back, I sold some of what I made at various venues: fairs, home shows, etc. Now I have a few signature items I sell, such as this fabulous Christmas Tree Hat:
But since my focus is writing, and knitting is supposed to be a hobby, I really like to knit for me and mine. Mostly for me.
Enter Barbara. I taught Barbara to crochet about 7 years ago in a class I taught at the Park District. She’s a sweet woman. I guess she’s about 73 now. Her eyes and arthritis have been detrimental to her yarnwork over the years, and shortly after the class ended, she contacted me to help her out with a blanket. That’s a lie. She didn’t need help, really, she wanted to pay me to knit the blanket for her. I felt bad, I said okay. She paid me around a hundred bucks, which sounds great–getting paid to do your hobby, relax, whatever–but we all need to take a step back and acknowledge that knitting is slow, and it takes about 50 hours to knit an afghan. I made more than $2 an hour at my first minimum wage job (telemarketing for Allstate Insurance, before headsets, before auto-dial, running a ruler down the phone book and asking people if they’d like a free quote on their auto insurance–all fine and good until someone thought I was offering a free COAT and got super excited) and that was under the table in 1987. But I finished it. I did. And it was lovely. I don’t have a picture of it, so just believe me. I delivered it to Barbara and she was thrilled. She told me that she had given each of her grandkids a blanket upon their high school graduations and was unable to knit that much anymore and was really pleased that this grandkid would get a blanket. Much to my surprise, she pulled out ANOTHER BLANKET KIT. Really? Turns out there was another grandkid–the last one. Of course, I did it. And guess what, when I delivered it, she gave me another kit. And after that one, another. This one was complicated. She paid me more than usual. And it turned out pretty damn beautiful. Proof:
When I dropped this one off, she wasn’t home. Her son was there and took it, and I went on with my day, running some errands, and generally TCB. When I got home, she was PARKED IN FRONT OF MY HOUSE, with another kit, of course. She said she couldn’t possibly give the one I had just dropped off away, it was too beautiful and she had to have it for her own. She gave me a year to finish the next one. And I am doing it.
Does she think I need the money? Does she think it takes 5 or 6 hours to do? Does she think I wouldn’t possibly have anything to knit if it wasn’t for her? I DON’T KNOW. But she’s too adorable and old to refuse. One of these days, I’m going to be working on one of her blankets and find out she died. I’ll finish it, but I’ll know there will not be another one waiting, and that will be a sweet relief.
The blanket I am knitting for her now is not unlike the last: the color of manila paper with lovely embroidery (semi-lovely, my embroidery skills are B-), and lots of crazy cables and patterns. Here it is, in progress:
So it’s coming along, I am 7 skeins in, and I notice a mistake. A bad mistake. One that can’t be corrected without undoing about 10 hours’ work. I worked a C4F instead of a C4B, which, if you are not a knitter, means that I twisted the cable the wrong way:
I laid it out and looked at it a bunch of times, and now my eyes go right to it. I tried to get mad at whoever might have been distracting me at the time I worked that row, but it could just as easily have been Buffy the Vampire Slayer as one of my kids. And I’d never get mad at Buffy.
When knitters undo work to fix a mistake, they call it “tinking,” because “tink” is “knit” spelled backwards. I’m not doing that. I’m not fixing it. It’s too hard, it’s too much time, there are too many other things I’d rather be doing. But I feel a twinge of guilt. I feel the itch in my brain that all knitters feel when they are debating this very issue. Some of the guilt stems from the fact that I think Barbara will never notice, and that makes me think I’m taking advantage of an elderly woman. I don’t want to do that. But I don’t want to knit for her anymore either. So there will be no tinking. Moving forward and finishing, and handing it in as is.
She won’t see it. She’ll just hand me another kit, and another hundred bucks.