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What The Heck Would You Do In a Situation Like That?

Dear Ann,
The problem with quoting Napoleon Dynamite, I’ve discovered, is that people don’t know it’s Napoleon Dynamite; they think it’s you, sounding only slightly more stupid and angry than usual. But I find my inner Napoleon comes bubbling to the surface a lot. Especially when my most sweet ideas go awry, and my skills let me down.
Remember the bright idea I had to knit half a blanket in doubled Cascade 220, and Amber the Stalwart Miterer would knit the other half, and we’d join the two halves and it would be AWESOME?
We briefly discussed what colors we had, but we weren’t much bothered about color, because Amber and I both are kind of what you would call gutsy about color and we weren’t going to be fussing about it because that’s just not The Kind of People We Are.
So. Step one, I made my half.
Step two, Amber made her half.
Being busy people in separate boroughs, we couldn’t settle on a date to get together to join the two halves. So we met downtown, bought some buttons together and exchanged news, and Amber gave me her half and I took it home. The stage direction here would be “Kay walks–no, skips– home with Amber’s half wadded up in a plastic bag. Kay is whistling in a carefree way that can only portend catastrophe.”
The deadline was looming, so I laid the two halves out on the floor. I know I overuse this expression, but can I get a ‘Ruh-roh’, people?
Damn! I knew there was something we forgot to discuss. We discussed yarn, the doubling of yarn, the needle size, how we were striping and what weird and wonderful things we were doing to the miter concept. We were very precise about the number of stitches each miter was going to have.
We didn’t discuss what gauge we might be getting, or even aiming for. Turns out that once again I am the loose-knitting champeen. Undefeated. I can knit looser than any of youse guys, any day of the WEEK. Why don’t you go tell your grandma how loose you knit?
So what to do. What to do. Like Napoleon, when the wolverines were attacking his cousins. What the heck would you do in a situation like that?
I did the decent thing. I sucked it up. I went down to a size 10 needle, picked up Amber’s yarn, and knit another half in the right gauge. What were the options? The options were not good! I could have just made Amber’s half longer–log-cabinning it to size, basically– and then joined it to my half. But that would have bugged me forever. Our two halves had the exact same number of stitches. That is the cool thing about miters–their precision. It just felt too sloppy to join them together all outta whack like that. A crime against geometry. I couldn’t do it. So I spent a couple of evenings knitting two more miters. Which as you know, I like to do. Then, feeling the deadline even more urgently, I picked up and made a nice garter stitch border all the way around (but not before trying and rejecting both the cro-Kay border (the edge roll was too strong for it) and the applied i-cord border (again with the rolling and it looked, as our young friends say, like ass). A wider garter border was what it wanted.
And now, it seems like this was meant to be. It looked really beautiful, at least to my miter-crazed eyes. I was proud to send it off to San Francisco, and proud to think of it cushioning a baby in Afghanistan. Go Amber! Go me! Go two-headed projects in general!
Amber, there is a kind of floppy set of two miters waiting for you. If you’re in the mood. I’ve got yarn for the other half and everything. Let’s remember for next time. Take time to save time, yadda yadda. Check the flippin’ gauge!
Love, Kay




  1. Now there will be two gorgeous blankies in the world.
    Great job, even though I think it would have been okay with a log cabin evener!!!!

  2. Blanket looks fab. Can’t hardly wait to make another half to match your half. I will wait, ’til the other deadline knitting is done, but hardly.
    It’s the double part of the double-dog dare. We all think half is what we can give, but we’ll give two halves each and though sometimes two halves make a hole that you could shout through, I think in this case two halves are conspiring to make two wholes.

  3. It’s lovely! Another never ending supply of creativity in action and why I shouldn’t throw my “less than ideal” projects into the rip out pile. You saved the day, made a lovely afghan for a lovely cause and took the time to share it with us. Your creativity is inspiring. Hats off.

  4. #2 is better. Much better. Not ass-like-looking at all. See, you knew what to do.

  5. The perfect story to illustrate the importance of gauge! I’m glad that you “made it work”!

  6. Nice punting!

  7. Oy! Glad you managed a fix.

  8. Thanks for the chuckle. I needed that.

  9. Kay, you must absolutely be my favourite person of the day. As a math major, how can I not love a person who uses the phrase “crime against geometry”?

  10. Ruh-roh indeed! Good save!

  11. At Knitz Can Do, we use the buddy system. No more flying solo. You need somebody watching your back at all times. Second off, you’re gonna learn to discipline your image. You think I got where I am today because I swatch like Jemima Puddleduck over here?

  12. Wow! I got a chuckle out of the blanket mismatch fiasco, but I’m sure it must have been very frustrating at the time. Great job though – can’t wait to see the next one. Cool idea to knit 2 halves by different knitters and then join them!

  13. Once again, you’re the champ.
    How marvelous of you to drop everything and crank out half a blanket in less than no time!
    And how marvy that there will be another one to match soon!
    I sit forewarned though — if my buddy E and I ever get up to this, there WILL be gauge swatches done! and a gauge chosen. (she’s SUCH the tight knitter, it’s scary)

  14. OH GOODNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s that dreaded “G” word again! I hate gauge – I defy gauge – and similar to what happened to you – it GETS ME EVERY TIME! lol
    The blanket looks great and I’m sure will be much loved!

  15. Heck yes I recognize Napoleon Dynamite quotes!
    I’m glad I’m not the only knitter out here who quotes him frequently. Gosh!

  16. I had a great gauge lesson with my knitting kids yesterday. Three girls all finished the same bag, with the same number of stitches,the same needles, and the same yarn and got three very different sizes! We shall see what the magic of felting brings…

  17. You made the right choice. The initial colors together, um, not so pretty. No log cabin in the world could unite those colors and make sense.

  18. I’m glad someone else said it first. But, given the color combo in the first photo, I think you were wise to reknit. I love color and I think you have a great eye for color so maybe something just isn’t coming through the monitor. But the combination of reds and blues with eggplant and celery (which is what it looks like here)…pretty yucky.

  19. i hope to see that red/green mitered goodness somewhere in the near future because that is such a great color combo!!! :o)
    the resulting blankie is very very purdy too!
    i’m just sayin’, that’s all. i hope the red/green mitery goodness returns. with a vengeance. ;o)

  20. The blankie is awesome. I love it. You’ve got plenty of mitering skills. I like to channel my inner Napoleon too. It’s the right thing to do, especially in a situation like that.

  21. We might have to start a Loose Knitters Club. But people might get the wrong idea.

  22. Help.. my daughter wants to KNIT! thisis a good thing; she saw a pattern for a beach bag in your book -I bought her size 50 needles and some lanyard..but we had the book from the library and now we don’t.. can you please email me how to make it -or at least get started until I get the book?? If I wait too long, she may lose the knitting bug!!
    PS I lvoe the miters!

  23. Madalyn (http://unravelme.lettucepieces.com) and I had the same problem! We had the same # of stitches, same needle size, but didn’t even think about that old gauge thing. Madalyn is the tightest knitter in the world. I’m usually pretty close to gauge. Luckily our squares worked out to a perfect 5 to 6 ratio!


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