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The Thin Green LIne

Dear Ann,
Hear me now: I love Volt. Long live Volt.
I love Volt so much that I am determined not to hold it against Volt that its first 10 rows nearly brought an end to my long apprenticeship as a knitter.
Yes. I nearly walked away from knitting forever. Because I kept messing up the increases and decreases on Volt.
Maybe it was the black yarn (and my lousy vision) on that first stripe. Maybe it was the blinding light and heady coconut sunscreen hit of Miami, the feeling that there was a Crime Scene Investigation very near. But I thought I was going to lose my ever-lovin’ mind if I had to rip back those 398 stitches one more time, worm them back onto the needles, and start over.
A healthier, less bloody-minded person would have taken a break from Volt, allowed the brain cells to refresh, pushed the reset button. But I had brought with me only Volt and my sock-yarn log cabin. And I was going to run out of log cabin before I ran out of Spring Vacation. If I did not get some traction on Volt, I was going to have to knit 6 Citron shawlettes. So I kept at Volt, and I kept getting madder and madder at Volt.
And finally it clicked. Knitting always does, eventually. I don’t know why this straightforward, beautiful pattern pushed me so far around the bend.
I’m still counting way too much, considering that the increases and decreases are so clearly visible now. I count nearly every right side row. (It reminds me of how I used to drive halfway to school, turn around, drive back home, and run down to the basement to make sure I’d unplugged the iron, even though I knew I’d unplugged the iron.) I go to sleep counting, and I wake up counting: 12/1/12, 19/1/19, 33/1/33, 54/1/54. I have gotten well past the point where the decreases are visible to me and I don’t have to count (or guess) where to put that slip2, k1, p2sso. Even that wobbly p1, yo, p1 double increase is right there in front of my eyes, now. (How could I have missed it? So many times?) But those hellish first rows cost me a chunk of confidence in my ability to Do Right, so I keep counting to make sure. (I’m counting right now. While I type.)
The most thrilling moments of Volt are when I get to knit that garter ridge of chartreuse every 40 rows. It feels like a real long way between those sweet garter ridges. It’s an accomplishment, every time. An Event.
In the home stretch now, I can’t stop thinking about what to do with the leftover nuggets of cashmere. That’s going to be the best part–a free cashmere scarf. And no counting.

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  1. It’s worth all the cussing and fussing. It’s gorgeous.

  2. If you end up totally out of love with Volt, ship it on over here. I can stand it-3-4-5-6-7. It’s absolutely beautiful and would look stunning with my standard wardrobe of jeans, tees, and linen jackets. Mmm, cashmere scraps. What’s not to love? Right now I’m struggling with reliably counting to 3 on my first non-plain sock. How can I not count to 3???

  3. Not only is Volt looking good, so is that bedspread (?) beneath it. What is that fine fabric?

  4. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Can’t wait to see it finished.

  5. Wow, Kay. That is a hugegantic piece of knitting! Way to produce!

  6. I think Volt looks great, and I’m most impressed that you brought cashmere to Miami, don’t know if I would have been able to do that (though it is greatly air-conditioned inside anyway).

  7. Kay, love it…you are brilliant, I would have tossed it in the ocean! I count to, I work with money so i count everything all the time, glad to know I’m not alone…. Wendy (5,10,15,20,25…)

  8. It’s bloody enormous! Can’t believe what you’re doing. Respeck. x x x

  9. Stunning! That little green line does make the whole thing, doesn’t it?
    Joey Ramone used to count everything too, I hear. And I often stop to wonder, after being out of the country for a few days, if I turned off the coffee pot before heading to the airport. Nutballs unite!
    Oh, and while I’m here…. If one were to make that Gwythian blanket, would one wash all the bits before sewing it all up? Right now I’m at the “look at the yarn” stage, not even at the “I wonder where those needles are” stage. Nowhere near washing anything at all…

  10. I am an accountant, by trade. That means. . . I should be able to count. But, somehow, I mis-count my knitting All The Time. It’s absurd.
    So glad you kept at it! Volt is just . . . ELECTRIC!

  11. I saw this in an LYS, and the gal who knit the sample said the same thing! She said it was worth it but so, so tedious at first.

  12. Your photos are really quite lovely. Your use of color and snapshots of your life are a little bit of happy in the day. This shawl is gorgeous, if maddening.

  13. Ummmmm, stitch markers? They’re saving my life right now, even though I’m still counting…
    16, 9, 16, 9, 16, 9…

  14. Oh, wait, that’s 16, 7, 16, 7, 16, 7…
    See? Stitch markers!

  15. Volt is stunningly beautiful. I’m not at all sure that I have the knitting stamina for such a project. Still haven’t finished my Citron !
    The quilt / bedspread is gorgeous. Margot Selby ? Inspired or ‘for real’ ?

  16. Can chartreuse cashmere be subtle? It takes a second look to see the asymmetrical sweetness. But I think your brain was straining from black cashmere on a warm holiday. Lucky us you persisted.

  17. It looks wonderful. If it were me, this would take forever to knit because I’d constantly me stopping to run my hand over the cashmere fabric — the softness is very evident even in photos.
    Also, whatever that quilt is in the background, it’s wonderful.

  18. I love Volt and I love Grace Farrow’s book. Someone brought it into my knitting group and I ordered it that night. It’s the end result that counts isn’t it?

  19. good heavens, girl,….it’s as wide as a bedspread,…….but such a powerful statement! i’m in awe…..

  20. You write: But I had brought with me only Volt and my sock-yarn log cabin. And I was going to run out of log cabin before I ran out of Spring Vacation. If I did not get some traction on Volt, I was going to have to knit 6 Citron shawlettes. So I kept at Volt, and I kept getting madder and madder at Volt.
    I ask: Why not go yarn shopping for a new project?
    It’s lovely. Way to stick with it!

  21. About the iron… My mum had the same problem. So one day we were halfway down the country (Belgium is small) when my mum started to wonder if she’d unplugged the iron. At which point dad pulled to the side of the road, opened the boot of the car and got the iron out. “I think it is”, he said. πŸ™‚

  22. Oh the counting. I keep finding myself counting the 30 st sts on the sole of a sock. The Volt is beautiful.

  23. I would dearly love to make this beautiful thing…so what is the secret to keeping track of the moving increases and decreases? Would love a tutorial in your inimitable style.

  24. Dear Kay,
    Glad you didn’t bolt from knitting Volt!

  25. Love it. I’ve loved that pattern since I first saw it last year. It’s definitely on my to-do list now. That stripe is captivating!

  26. P.S.–Could’t resist that little referance to the Beatles’ song (with the “1234567…”, etc.) but now I can’t remember WHICH song it’s from!
    Forgetfully yours.

  27. Gosh, this is gorgeous!!!

  28. I fell in love with it all when you showed us the book and I immediately ordered it. I couldn’t decide which thing to make first, but I think you just helped. Now I want to stop everything I am working on and start Volt.

  29. What a stroke of luck that you were stuck with your volt project — if not for these circumstances, it may well lay buried in your house somewhere cast off in annoyance. That would have been a shame. It’s lovely! Count on!

  30. you knitted on a vacation in florida
    you were on the wrong coast 11 12 13 14

  31. It’s just beautiful! I’ve been admiring those designs in a theoretical way for quite some time. It’s great to see it “in the flesh.” And Diane, that’s the end of Abbey Road, the medley that starts with “You never give me your money”. My favorite Beatles song(s)!

  32. Thanks. This post made my morning. Love the pictures. Love the description of counting.

  33. Wow, that is truly fabulous – worth sweating blood over… When are you going to wear it? Cashmere strikes me as a little warm for Florida! If you get bored I’ll happily give it a good home – it gets COLD over here in Switzerland!

  34. I am loving the way the stripes look!

  35. I am so jealous, I could scream. I’m stuck with the stupid recommended yarn on the stupid first 30 black hole of a stripe.

  36. I picked this up at Stitches West, but switched out some of the colors, including the neon green… did I make a mistake? Hmmm.

  37. WOW, that shawl is gorgeous. You’re going to make me have a falling-down of epic proportions!

  38. I’m not even a shawl person, but that one is going to be a winner. And so is the search word “volt” for middle-school-age googlers. “What is a volt?” That zig-zaggy knitted thing? Huh? πŸ˜€

  39. Thanks, Jen! About mid-day, I thought of Abbey Road, but that’s as far as it got. Yes, now I remember the song (and how much I enjoyed Abbey Road).
    Once again, thanks so much.

  40. Love the Volt, but really want to knit your bedspread!

  41. well done kay345678910

  42. Two words: stitch markers. I too am an accountant by trade, like Kym, and I.Cannot.Count.Past.20. Stitch markers keep me sane.

  43. Boy I wish I had known there was a second knitter in town. Did you reserve your knitting for your hotel or did everyone walk by and ask what you were doing?

  44. It is gorgeous. Maybe it needs a trio of Bunny Nuggets to keep it company. (I’m kind of on a BN kick right now so if other people are also knitting them I won’t seem so.. um.. eccentric. Yeah. That’s the ticket.) A black one, a charcoal one and a silver one each with a chartreuse stripe. πŸ™‚

  45. Ao totally gorgeous! I would never have chosen to add that chartruse, but man, does it ever work with those greys — well done!

  46. So absolutely gorgeous! I wouldn’t have ever thought of tossing a little chartruse in with those greys — but man, does it ever work!

  47. D’oh! Sorry for the double post — I tried to fix a spelling mistake, and thought I’d canceled the first one in just enough time. Now I feel silly.


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