Mason-Dixon Knitting Rule Number Whatever: Keep Driving
November 12, 2008
Dear Ann, Kiki and Mariko,
My Kiki Mariko rug is done! Although I cast on more stitches (total of 154) with the intention of getting a more square-ish shape, I ended up so besotted with the color changes that I knitted extra rows and got a shape that is still rectangular, just a bit bigger. I’m real happy with it. It is one of those projecks that people come into your house and notice immediately and think you’re all clever and stuff.
I have some notes on felting the Kiki Mariko. It felts in like, no kidding, 10 minutes in warm water. Since I had mixed Manos del Uruguay wool in with the Lamb’s Pride Bulky, I was worried about a difference in how these 2 yarns felted. This was justified: there is a slight difference in the width of the areas that are all-Manos. In Do Over Land, I would make sure to always use one strand of Lamb’s Pride whenever I am using Manos. But a little blocking (by “blocking” I mean flattening and pulling at the edges like crazy while the rug was still damp) evened things out to my satisfaction.
I’m not gonna lie to you. There was one Big Scary Moment when I pulled Kiki Mariko out of the washer.
Surprisingly enough, cutting my first steek was not the Big Scary Moment:
There is really nothing scary–or even particularly exciting, darn it– about cutting wool that is already felted, and the pattern leaves plenty of room for Errors in Cutting. You have a wide steek and you can cut it down to nothing if you like, or leave a little of the checkerboard for decorative purposes. (Initially I waited for the rug to dry, but then I cut away all but a centimeter of the checkerboard, which I then covered up with whip stitches.)
The Big Scary Moment involved epic ruffling of the ends of the knitted tube:
Now. This is an attractive ruffle, as ruffles go. It’s just that I was not foreseeing a ruffle on my rug. A ruffle was not part of the vision. Gazing at the ruffle, I felt a little surge of what-am-I-gonna-do-now panic.
Then I remembered something I learned 35 years ago. The scene: Summer 1974, Omaha, Nebraska. Driver’s Education class. My teacher: a drill-sergeant type, mid-30s, complete with crew cut. Despite this guy’s rather dictatorial teaching style, I was thrilled to (a) be learning to drive and (b) be learning to drive in a Volkswagen Beetle, one of the cutest autos ever devised. I hung on his every word. To this day, my hands on the wheel are always at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock; there is none of this namby-pamby one-handed cruising, or the underhanded turning grip. Mr. Crew Cut was very clear about this.
But on this particular morning, Mr. Crew Cut was talking to us about Accidents. And what he said made me so mad that I never forgot it. He said, “When a collision is about to happen, girls and boys react totally differently. A girl screams and closes her eyes and lets the crash happen. A boy keeps driving. And that’s what you want to do: keep driving. If you keep steering, you can possibly avoid the collision, or make the impact less direct or less severe. So KEEP DRIVING.” I resolved then and there, for the rest of my life, to prove Crew Cut wrong about girls, and to keep driving through all catastrophes, until the car would go no further. (I would try to get in touch with Crew Cut and tell him how well he taught me, but I’m still mad at him. Had he been in every crash with every girl and every boy? Was there any science backing up this theory of his? I think not. Sexist pig!)
So. Back to my ruffle situation. I had to keep driving. What to do? I could think of nothing in my past felting experience to guide me in dealing with this ruffle. All I could think to do, initially, was to cut it off. This is not a terrible idea. It would work, since you can cut felt. But dang it, I had knitted those rows, and I had knitted them brown so that the rug would be brown on both ends, and I did not want to give them up without a fight.
That’s when little old me, eyes open and hands on the wheel (and OK, screaming, but only in my head), pushed Felting Technology one step forward. I filled up the washing machine (a top loader) with warm water again. I folded the rug in half. I dipped the two ruffled ends of the rug about 4 inches into the warm water. I leaned over the open washing machine, using my body weight to keep the rest of the rug from getting pulled into the tub. And then we agitated. I did not make eye contact with any members of the household passing by rolling their eyes at the sight of Mommy physically stuck to the side of the washing machine. I let the washer run through the whole wash cycle, 10 or 12 minutes, and I kept checking to see if the ruffle was shrinking up and de-ruffling. And it was! And it did!
Take that, Crew Cut!