I'd been wracking my brain for weeks, trying to think of a birthday present for one of my very best friends. Tabula rasa, clean slate, no brilliant ideas whatsoever. Dang!
Then I saw another friend wearing a way cool scarf. Not a keep-you-warm scarf, a dress-up scarf. It was olive green with more holes than yarn and ribbon and bangles, and it looked really classy. When I asked where she'd gotten it, she said, oh so casually, "I knit it, didn't take long at all."
Wowzer, there was the present idea. It wouldn't be terribly expensive, yet what shows you care more than something you made yourself?
That's one of those things about getting older -- you finally understand why the adults liked stuff you made more than anything you bought. Don't you remember being a little kid and much preferring getting the plastic Barbie doll to getting the cute little outfit hand sewn just for you? (Of course anything was better than underwear.) When did that all change? When does a person realize store bought stuff is just stuff, but something hand made especially for you is a gift from the heart? (Not that I'm saying store bought stuff is bad, just that hand made stuff means more.)
So on my trip to the grocery store the next day, I went to the craft department and looked at the yarn. Found one I really liked, it was fuzzy and sparkly all at the same time and blue; blue goes with everything. It was even machine washable. (Gads, I truly am showing my age if that excites me.) I picked it up and turned around to look at the display of needles. I knew that bigger needles equaled a looser stitch, so I got the second largest pair there, purple plastic, size 17. Big honkers. Figured the yarn would knit up quick and look nice and airy, then I could go to JoAnn's fabric store and get some spiffy skinny ribbons to add on and have an artistic masterpiece.
What didn't factor in to my calculations was that I'd learned to knit as a child. When I say knit, I'm being literal, the pearl stitch was quite beyond my ken. I also failed to consider that the last thing I'd knit had been more than half of my lifetime ago. In fact, the only thing I'd ever knit was a twelve foot long scarf. I still have it. It's long. Very long.
So I sat down with my big purple needles and my skein of yarn and started right in. I pulled the cover off the yarn and poked at it until an end came loose.
Hmmm... the yarn was two strands, one fuzzy, ephemeral mohair and the other knobbly cotton with sparkly metallic stuff twisted in. The two strands were not twisted together, they lay side by side like friendly dogs. Oh. Okay.
Inside the wrapper were directions for a diagonally knit scarf. I got as far as, "Cast on 18 stitches," then the directions turned into pure gobbledygook.
The casting on 18 stitches, I could do. I cast on 20 just for good measure.
Then I sat there looking at my big purple needles with yarn wrapped around one of them.
It's like riding a bike, I told myself. Just stick that naked needle in and wrap the yarn around it and away you'll go -- as long as you don't try any of that tricky pearl stuff...
It worked. Not without a whole lot of cussing and fussing. Not quickly. The airy holes are in a wide variety of sizes and the edges aren't quite even, but it did work. I have about 18 inches of very organic looking (to be politically correct) fuzzy, sparkly, blue scarf knit so far. I have two skeins of yarn. I'll either keep going until I've knit them up or until I decide it's long enough, whichever comes first. I can guarantee it won't be twelve feet long though.
Ah, ha! I just had another Brilliant Idea! Fringe! Fringe adds length and you don't have to knit it, just knot it. Cool.