Learn how to crawl: the New York City Yarn Crawlย is on through Sunday, September 25.

Do I Or Don’t I?

Dear Kay,
Well, I’m back. I went. I’ve just survived a couple of things: 1) my 25th college reunion and 2) a really unfortunate episode with the shawl that I started a couple of days ago.
I don’t know which was more unnerving, really.
The shawl thing went like this.
The second — and I mean second — I stuck the last blocking pin in the Diminishing Rib Cardigan, I craved a project that would be smooth and silky and fine gauged and not involving any sheep whose name I knew. This led me quickly to cotton, which tends not to be named, and to a shawl pattern I’d seen on Twist Collective. Susanna IC’s Cascata is a watery pattern, with bubbles and such, and I liked that it wasn’t all that big. The yarn, remnant of a shawl four years ago, seemed like a good match.
All went well until I noticed, sitting in the Charlotte airport waiting for my flight home, that some bubbles weren’t lining up right.
That rolled-up paper napkin marks the offending, missing decrease.
It was early enough in the project that I knew it would bug me to have that one row of misaligned bubbles. But then I thought, Who on earth cares? I care! I don’t care! Making a decision on fixing a mistake can spiral right down to fundamental and world-rocking contemplation of why you knit, what it means to correct a mistake, to let something go, to regret things let go or not let go — aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh! Help meee!
Between the Cinnabon cloud drifting over my head and the endless line of airplanes coming out of the sky directly toward me, I swirled into a cosmic flakeout. I managed to drill down to worrying about the concept of reunions at tidy little liberal arts colleges, and why it is that the placid successfuls seem to return to their colleges at a higher rate than nerdy outliers like me. I decided the absent classmates had rigged up some other superawesome reunion in Tuscany and didn’t tell me. I also had the thought, as I stared at the misaligned bubbles, that most people at that reunion felt at least a bit on the periphery. If I’d taken a poll, probably nobody would have said they were in the center of it all, back in the day.
It wasn’t a grim weekend, actually, despite the cosmic flakeout. I saw some great old friends, met people who told me amazing and weird stories. A highlight was seeing the guy I edited The Davidsonian with back in the day. A quarter century later, David has outwritten me 7 books to 2 (halves of two books, actually!), 150 academic articles to 0. He informed me that The Davidsonian is digitally archived now. (The 1983-84 years are the ones where you can see our blood in the ink.) The college paper was it for me–the place where all my energy went. While everybody else was at the Thursday night disco, I was upstairs setting type and writing ranty editorials about the new athletic complex.
I left with two books by classmates that I want to read: David’s book Dying Declarations: Notes from a Hospice Volunteer and Reasons to Believe: One Man’s Journey Among the Evangelicals and the Faith He Left Behind by John Marks. AND, prize of all, my favorite English professor, Dr. Holland, emailed me a ghost story he just wrote.
Knitterly Hi-lites from the Weekend
Fellow classmate/blogger/tweeter/Rhinebecker Kelly was my next-door neighbor at the hotel. It was a relief to have a knitter nearby.
I ran into Caroline, a Davidson senior/knitter who was my source for info about Davidson campus mayhem a couple of years ago when NCAA fever hit the school.
I witnessed a giant log cabin blanket at The Needlecraft Center, the yarn shop I lived above my senior year.
Kim said that they have a knitting group where everybody makes log cabin blankets. GLORIOUS! Blankets in quantity!
And yes, in the airport, I decided to go ahead and rip out the misaligned bubbles.
At one point the mess trailed across three seats, with hours of knitting returned to a puddle of slippery, ripped-out yarn on the floor.
Did I enjoy ripping out those thousands of stitches? No. It was sort of unpleasant. Am I glad I did it?
Well, yeah, I guess I am.

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  1. LOVE the color of your shawl and I’m sure (when it’s finally finished) that you’ll be so happy to see your bubbles all lined up. I hope in the great book distribution you managed to flog your own just a little!

  2. Ann- how awesome that you went to college here in the Old North State! I’ve only been to Davidson once but it was in order to check out the Needlecraft Center while ostensibly visiting my parents. Places like that just make me want to drop in, drop out, and spend my life covered with wool. Sorry about the bubbles. Lace makes me nuts!

  3. Hi Ann,
    I am Caroline’s mom and she was on the phone with me when she spotted you sitting there knitting at Davidson on Saturday. She swiftly but politely said she had to hang up right now. I suspected that she’d run into an old friend. About 15 minutes later she called back and said ‘Oh, Mom! Guess who I just met?!!’ Yes, you made her day! My mom taught her how to knit and she showed all her siblings but it is truly Caroline’s gift to create wearable works of art. Somehow the yarn gene skipped me. Anyway, I skipped my 25th college reunion this weekend. Maybe some Italian trip will be offered…
    Blessings, Tina Morrow

  4. Wondering how you would come out on that rip it/don’t rip it dilemma was utterly not suspenseful. Of course you fixed it! I would worry about identity theft if you hadn’t.
    And I have a few precious organic skeins from a cotton plant named Flurf. Flurf gave her all for me, without benefit of pesticides.

  5. Its sort of reassuring to the rest of us that even professionals like you go wrong too. If it helps I was halfway up a sweater knitted in the round when it suddenly occurred to me that while it looked nice it kind of wasn’t the same as the picture on the pattern. When I read through I realized that I had missed the second row of a two row pattern. Boy, did I feel dumb – I mean a pattern with only two rows and I miss the second one entirely. How is that even possible? Like you I ripped it out and started over – and liked it much better second time round. Like my mom always said ‘if a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing right’. Still annoying though….

  6. Its sort of reassuring to the rest of us that even professionals like you go wrong too. If it helps I was halfway up a sweater knitted in the round when it suddenly occurred to me that while it looked nice it kind of wasn’t the same as the picture on the pattern. When I read through I realized that I had missed the second row of a two row pattern. Boy, did I feel dumb – I mean a pattern with only two rows and I miss the second one entirely. How is that even possible? Like you I ripped it out and started over – and liked it much better second time round. Like my mom always said ‘if a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing right’. Still annoying though….

  7. sorry – don’t know why that popped up twice – computer running away with itself?

  8. The second I heard you once lived above a yarn shop, I turned absolutely green with envy – and green is not a particularly good color for me. The log cabin blanket pictured is gorgeous and I am so going to make one. Sounds like you had a very nice reunion. Good for you! Except for the frogging part. But the yarn is beautiful and you’ll be so happy you fixed it!

  9. I hope you had a suitable adult beverage to soothe your nerves during the long ripout of 2010.
    Knit on!

  10. Oh, hooray! My mother lives in Davidson, where she happily knits (and never purls) on a variegated blob that she rips out and starts over every time it starts to look too bad.
    I guess I am not a very good knitting teacher.

  11. I too went to a small liberal arts college. I think they beat the ‘big names’ any and every day of the week. I just spent a couple of seconds looking at Davidson’s webpage, because I didn’t know anything about the school (during my college hunt NC felt like the moon – I was very scared of hte south back then). Anyhow, I am so impressed by Davidson’s policy of only giving grants not loans to students. As someone who was saddled with heavy loans from both undergrad and law school (and then I foolishly did low paying public interest work), I think that is absolutely FANTABULOUS! Do you know if they do that in conjuntion with a ‘need blind’ admissions policy. You went to an awesome school!

  12. I don’t know how it happened (I dimly remember hitting a link and then typing my login for PayPal), but the Cascata pattern is now in my downloads. It’s gorgeous and I think (hope) I have some stash yarn that will work beautifully. I’ll be sure to use lifelines in case I find myself in the frog pond!

  13. I haven’t done much lace and usually try to avoid frogging anything, always try to find another way to deal with it if it won’t be too obvious and/or drive me crazy!!

  14. I’m sooooooo glad you got your bubbles in alignment! The colour is fantastic for the pattern.

  15. I’m sooooooo glad you got your bubbles in alignment! The colour is fantastic for the pattern.

  16. While working on a seriously cabled scarf last year I learned how to drop selected stitches to make corrections rather than rip back entire rows. Adult beverages help. And knowing that ripping back is an option as a last resort. But it’s lovely!

  17. lovely posting

  18. Thanks for the brave words about 25th college reunions at tidy liberal-arts colleges. Now, see, if I had two “half-books” to my name, and were a fiber-arts celebrity, I’d be a lot less nervous about attending mine in June.
    Need a third collaborator for the next book? Or would you just let me tell people I’m working on it with you?

  19. I’m glad you frogged back and fixed the mistake too….It would have bugged the bajeebus out of you for eternity had you not. I just know that.

  20. I had no idea you were editor of the Davidsonian! So impressive! I also had forgotten you lived above the yarn shop. My best memories were parties attended above the soda shop next door. I feel privileged to have graduated from Davidson, even more so having learned you were a fellow alum. It is an awesome place and I look forward to attending my FIRST EVER reunion this fall (my 15th!). FB has made this a much anticipated event instead of a much-dreaded. Funny how that happens!
    P.S. Dr. Gibson is one of my favorite friends on FB! I never took Dr. Holland’s class but I can see from what I know about him that you two were kindred spirits.

  21. You lived above a yarn shop!!!!

  22. The Immortal Words of Don Ho:
    Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles)
    In the wine (in the wine)
    Make me happy (make me happy)
    Make me feel fine (make e feel fine)…
    ‘Nuf said.

  23. Oh, Ann – I felt such *relief* when I read that you decided to rip out and re-knit! I shall always be able to keep this in mind now when faced with the same dilemma.
    Last year I had my 25th high-school reunion. It was in Boulder, not Tuscany, alas, but it was semi-impromptu and without the blessing of the school, because a random band of alums is simply more organized than a hippie-commie-boarding-school, if you can believe that. Anyway, it was another opportunity to reflect on what, as far as I can tell, is the universal experience of feeling that one is the nerdy outlier, and the center is someone else.
    Having some perspective on that position, seeing that everyone feels that way, oh! I was able to have such a good time ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. I was sitting in the Charlotte airport on Sunday afternoon too! I was coming back from Stitches South. Any chances you girls will make it to Hartford at Stitches East???

  25. Wow, I am always impressed with someone who can rip out all that lace and recognize what to pick back up again! I am relegated to tinking back one stitch at a time or completely starting over. Can’t wait to see it finished, what a beautiful colorway!

  26. You lived above a yarn shop????
    I don’t think you’re nerdy at all.
    I get the shawl cast on and anguish. I am preparing for a two week trip soon, and am (as always) spending more time testing shawl patterns to take with me (lace weight means lots of knitting with little bulk or baggage weight). I worry about finding the balance between a project that will a) sustain my interest, b) be fun, c) let me get a lot of knitting done, and d) not frustrate me or cause me to have to unravel half a project on the airport floor! Admittedly, these are what I call high-class worries.
    You lived above a yarn shop???? Heaven!

  27. My 25th reunion is this year, too. MIT. But I’m not going. The people I want to see won’t be there…I’m going to the Bar Mitzvah of the oldest son of one pair of them this month (don’t see them often enough, anymore), and we are traveling there with my old college roommate, but I see her all the time, as she only lives 2 mi from me. There are a handful of other old friends scattered around, and we are talking about forcing them to get together with us soon…we all mean to, but meaning to can take 10 years!

  28. You pulled me out of lurking with your story of going to Davidson. I am an alum of Davidson, graduated last year. I’m working for the college for a year long fellowship (it ends in May… ack!). I got so excited to find out you were an alum also!!! I got so excited when I saw your post and was like… wait, that’s my LYS. That’s the NEEDLECRAFT CENTER!
    So I just wanted to let you know you made my day. Thank you.

  29. Wait, you were knitting in an airport? Am I to infer from this that you were able to take your needles on the plane? I’m going to Europe in August and it would just be so dandy if I could do some knitting on the way rather than wasting my time with the in-flight movie.

  30. That was really interesting to read. I just love the log cabin blanket. Did she say how long it took to make and it looks like aran weight yarn too.

  31. I love, love, loved this post! From getting your knickers in a twist about the error, to second guessing your classmates and the ensuing paranoia.
    You rock! (and you are not alone on either kind of crazy lack of logical thought processes.)

  32. You once lived above a yarn shop???
    Do tell more…

  33. Ann, you must order from CDBaby.com to get the ultimate “your order has been shipped” message. It involves a parade! Order Stella Schindler’s “Distant Hum”–you like the shipment method and you’ll love the music. xo, c.

  34. Even before you named the school, I was guessing it was Davidson! We toured earlier in the month with my twin sons and I managed to sneak in a visit to the Needlecraft Center while we were waiting for our food next door. Beautiful, challenging school AND a great yarn store?? Sign the boys up, pronto!

  35. I also stayed up late writing ranty editorials for my small liberal arts college newspaper (the Juniatian – same creative naming convention as yours)! Although I lived above a bar, not a knitting shop. Actually, the rant writing frequency went way down when I moved above the bar, come to think of it…

  36. That yarn color is gawjus, I love it. And behind the lady with the log cabin is a really cool stand with baskets. I think I need one of those once my boys are past the age of seeing it as a ladder.


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