Is Starshower the new Honey Cowl? Only time will tell (but it looks good).

Mason-Dixon Knitting Rule Number Whatever: Keep Driving

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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:
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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:
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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.
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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!
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Take that, Crew Cut!
Love,
Kay

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78 Comments

78 Comments

  1. c’est tout à fait magnifique. Bravissima Kay!

  2. I love it. I want one!

  3. You go girl!! It’s a work of art.

  4. You go girl!! It’s a work of art.

  5. Love your rug! Wonderful colors!
    I am a felter (the kind that uses loose fiber, water, soap and muscle). If you were to subject the more ruffled sections to rubbing and agitation (like on a car mat or wash board if you have one), it will cause that section to contract. Way cool.

  6. I can just imagine the rolling eyes of the family as Mommy precision-felts her rug. It worked, though! Looks so unruffly!
    Driving instructors have more influence in the world than they know, I’m sure. I, who learned to drive in a VW bus, will always remember mine saying, “Do not tailgate in a VW bus, or you will lose your legs!” Phew!

  7. A triumph for girl-drivers (and knitter/felters) everywhere!! It looks fantastic!

  8. Not sure I’ve posted here before, but holy holy heck, I adore that rug. And the de-ruffling was brilliant.

  9. Thats a beauty of a rug.

  10. It’s kind of like the reactions you get when you go to the hardware store with an item in mind–to fix or create something that popped into your head. You’ve got a wonderful idea, and the guy looks at you like you’re nuts. But you know the idea is great–and you just say “thank you” very sweetly, and carry on. Find what you need, create your fix/solution/vision and think to yourself “that guy can kiss my butt.” I’m not bitter–I’ve just gotten the vibe far too many times. I’m so glad that we know we’re smart and talented and that we can do anything.

  11. Loving it.
    I am wondering about the ruffling, the why of the ruffling. Why do you think it ruffled so at the top and bottom? Whazzupwizat?

  12. Wonderful, clever solution! Brava!
    When I was writing I Heart Felt, I learned (the hard way), that when you’re doing stranded work for felting, you have to strand every row, even the solid color rows- the floats (even short floats) tighten more than plain knitting. I didn’t just end up with ruffles on the ends, I got ruffles in the middle too. It didn’t occur to me to try to felt those sections individually- I could probably have saved the prototypes with your method.

  13. Go you for not panicking (too much.)
    The rug is beautiful beyond words.

  14. What a gorgeous rug!!! I’m definitely going to make one (or two).
    I surely can empathize with your “what-am-I-gonna-do-now panic” about the felting. You can really come up with some new and creative ideas in that mode. Which proves again that something good always comes out of a bad situation.

  15. Victorious triumph over under-felting and sexist driving teachers at the same time! Hee-YAH! Take that!
    Love your clever solution.

  16. Victorious triumph over under-felting and sexist driving teachers at the same time! Hee-YAH! Take that!
    Love your clever solution.

  17. What is that saying? Oh yes: A good flat rug edge is the best revenge. Take that Mr Driver Ed Sexist Pig. oink.

  18. This is a good teaching post for those who view knitting as a sedentary activity…heaving yourself against a working machine, indeed!
    It is a beautiful rug! But I believe I have already been led down the garden path to try hooking…and I’m telling the DH that it’s M/D’s fault!

  19. We took drivers ed at about the same time, I took mind in Plymouth,Ind.. My instructor would make a wide berth when he saw me coming walking down the halls at school. I wasn’t the one who was responsible for him breaking his arm.Those were the days.lol, I love the rug,another unfinished project, sigh

  20. Another way to minimise ruffled ends – before you wash, LOOSELY sew the ends of your Kiki Mariko tube together, with COTTON yarn (very, very important that it is not wool you sew it with) so that instead of an open-at-each-end tube you have a sewn-together-with-cotton-at-each-end rectangle. The when you’ve done your felting, you can easily pull out your cotton tacking (which you wouldn’t be able to do if you’d done it with wool), and lo! it should not be so wibbly wobbly. I’m sure there’s a techy reason why the ends wibble, but I don’t know it. Happens all the time though when you’re trying to felt stuff on a large scale (go on, ask me how I know… it involves HUNDREDS of scarves)
    Looks amazing anyway….
    B x x x

  21. OMG, they must have CLONED those driver’s ed guys (complete to the sexist pig parts!! — or maybe it was just the time)
    I love the rug, I’m wondering if my aging washing machine could take the strain (it complained at some small projects)
    Drive (er, KNIT) on Kay

  22. Wow! You got it going on! Mad hot felting skilz! And you did it all without lying down in a darkened room with a bottle of bourbon.(That’s my standard felting emergency solution.)Woot!

  23. Kay, you are my hero.

  24. **No Longer 10 and 2**
    When I was doing the “driving part” of my son’s driver’s ed, I was careful to tell him “10 and 2″ (also from my crew-cutted martinet of a driver’s ed teacher.) My son told me that is no longer the rule, and it’s important to know why.
    The new rule is “9 and 3″, and steering wheels on newer cars reflect this. The reason is Airbags.
    If you have your hands at 10 and 2 in an airbag accident, the bags can catch your hands and arms and drive them into your face and body and break/smush/maim all involved body parts. (You’ll probably still be alive, but the plastic surgeon will be able to buy that new Beamer he’s been eyeing.)
    If your hands are at 9 and 3, the airbags will push your hands and arms out away from your body.
    The things we learn from our children!

  25. Beauty conquers the crew-cut beast. Brava! You go girl. Your rug is indeed both stunning and clever.
    Drive on!

  26. I love that you share your adventures with us so candidly:) When I make mine, I will be following your advice, I am sure.
    My Driver’s Ed teacher yelled at everyone in the classroom constantly and threw erasers at you if he saw you weren’t paying attention. In the car, he was fond of yelling, “You’re asleep, you’re asleep!” for the same reason. I was terrified of him!!!

  27. It’s gorgeous! It’s enough to make me overcome my double aversion to felting AND steeking! I knit a swatch with the various yarns I want to use; once I see if it felts reasonably evenly I’m casting on!

  28. it’s beautiful… and I TOTALLY love my beetle….

  29. Kay, you fabulous creature, it’s gorgeous! Well done.
    I’m starting to think all those drivers ed teachers came from the same lab. It’s the only way to explain it.
    Mine would yell and touch my leg to make his point while I was trying drive on a narrow country road with a ditch and mail boxes on both sides. I may or may not have slammed on the breaks at one point and told him that I would kill us all if he didn’t stop with the yelling and touching. *L*
    xo

  30. Congrats on your ‘driving’. I had a few teachers like that in the 70’s, too. My only trouble with the de-ruffling is that my top load won’t agitate with the lid open. My solution would have to be hand felting in the sink. But it’s still a useful idea to file away for upcoming felting surprises!

  31. I was going to tell you to the 9 and 3 thing that Susan from Las Vegas told you. But since she told you, and much better than I would have, I can just tell you how beautiful that rug is! Fabulous. Simply fabulous.

  32. PS I keep looking at all those colors. I mean, I love all those colors together. A big ol Crayola box.

  33. I have to de-lurk now to tell you that YOU ROCK. That’s a great rug. I’d never have thought of re-felting the ends.

  34. You are truely the coolest person ever.

  35. Wow, it is fantastic! And has just the right amount of wavy-ness on the edges to make it look like it was planned all along. Anyone who does not comment on it within 30 seconds of entering your home should be politely asked to leave :)

  36. Wow, it is fantastic! And has just the right amount of wavy-ness on the edges to make it look like it was planned all along. Anyone who does not comment on it within 30 seconds of entering your home should be politely asked to leave :)

  37. Excellent driving!

  38. Even though I took Driver’s Ed in Michigan, I’m pretty sure we had the same instructor, crew cut and all, although I think my guy was in his 40’s. I still take the 10 and 2 hand position very seriously.
    Mine used to start every class with a “woman driver” joke. Made me so mad that one day I raised my hand and said, “If girls are such bad drivers, why do boys have higher insurance rates?” He paused, thought a moment, and said, “You’re right.” He then explained the statistics of accidents involving teenagers. And never told another woman driver joke for the rest of the semester.

  39. You are amazing – great solution. Plus, you’ve given your children a(nother?) great story to tell!

  40. The rug is fabulous..One of my driver’s ed teachers had a crew cut, too..

  41. You are a genius! I love the rug and want to run out and make one soon. Congratulations

  42. I love the way you write things. I am a bit younger, so I still remember the girls staying inside while the boys played baseball so we wouldn’t get hurt….those sexist pigs have inspired many a woman, just not in the way they thought. The rug is fabulous and so are you my dear!

  43. you are BRILLIANT.
    And I’m so jealous that you have a washer. I desperately want to make this rug, but I’d have to either felt it at my parents’ or in our basement laundry center. Which is not ideal. But I guess you have to make sacrifices for things like this…

  44. WOW!!!!!
    This gorgeous rug makes me want to knit a RUG!
    And it might be on my short-list except I went to a rug-hooking demo extravaganza and am now pretty sure what my winter knitting derailment is going to look like.
    Super job, Kay, and especially loud and heartfelt kudos on the ruffle adjustment experiment/solution. Delightful!

  45. Ah, driver’s ed. I am glad to say that I had a very level headed Spanish teacher/driver’s ed/wrestling coach-type. It was 1974. He didn’t bat an eye when I dented the wheel well on the a one-lane bridge abutment deep in the forest on the flume road. I guess he was grateful we all didn’t go into the drink.
    I loved your solution to the ruffly ends. My OCD wouldn’t let me stop until that thing was flaaaaat, so something I’d try comes from my quilt binding days: running a basting of heavy brown thread through those ends, gathering them up in tiny increments until those ruffles are so small they don’t look ruffly any more. I’m pretty sure it would work great, and it would be invisible, too.

  46. I am totally in love with this rug AND with the image of you stubbornly getting that sucker to felt just how you want it to. I’m thinking I might make this rug as my first intarsia project. Do you think that it would be too overwhelming? It sure is stunning.

  47. This post sums up everything I love about your books and your blog!

  48. It is beyond beee-yoo-tee-ful, and yes, you are a complete genius. Keep driving!

  49. Oh my gawd. Gorgeous. I love the colors. Also, high five for combating sexism with knitting.

  50. See now, you go and make a gorgeous rug like this stranded beauty and a few days ago you were all hearts and swoon rug hooking. Lady are you obsessed with rugs or what!?!
    Beautiful colors!!!

  51. This rug is beautiful. I have heard it calling to me since the day I bought the new book. I am too scared of the fair isles, I guess. For now I continue to admire from afar.

  52. That is one seriously pretty rug. One wonders, though, how slippery it is on the hardwood floor….

  53. The rug is gorgeous, I hope someone took a video of you in the washing machine!!!
    My drivers’ ed teacher was a woman, but strangely, she had a crew cut too, must have been a fashion trend!

  54. I remember my instructor at Roma International Driving School which, I’m sure, was a front for something shady. He was a burly (crew-cut) former car racer who had us do whatever we wanted to for the one hour he kept us in the classroom to cover the Rules of the Road. We went out driving instead (“You don’t learn driving from BOOKS!”). He drilled us at parallel parking yelling, “Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut!” whenever it was just the right moment for turning the wheel away from the curb. I can still park in two moves.

  55. It looks great! How much fuz was in the washer after you were done? (I thought that was going to be the scary moment – when you found the fuzz ball!) My drving teacher in high school also made a life-long impression on me. He claimed that “girls can’t parallel park” and to this day I get a rush when I successfully pull off a perfect parallel parking job. What can I say; I lead a simple life.

  56. Oh, my, that is just gorgeous. I loved it in the book, and I love it even more now. SO pretty!

  57. I believe you are refering to Mr. Ross. He would not have filled the wash tub with water but with bunson burners. You would have screamed like a girl as the rug went up in smoke. Look on the bright side no ruffles. Crew cuts forever. G

  58. I totally LOVE the fact that there is simply no concept of ‘going to far’ in your pursuit of knitting/felting perfection. Way to go!
    I’m totally envious of the finished object. I want one. No bones about it.

  59. The rug is great, the story is hilarious…and the memory of the Crew Cuts who pontificated and taught Driver’s Training back in the day is, I agree, still fresh! I’m proud of you for taking the good out of his smarmy message.
    By the way, I love the chair in the bottom right of the first picture…one of a kind or is there a chance I could get one?

  60. What a comeback! Yay for you! It’s a great rug.

  61. Ha! You have the same sewing scissors I do!
    I think the unperdictability is one of the things I LOVE and FEAR about felting. Somehow my edges often don’t come out nicely…when I want edges… What a great solution! Brava!

  62. Why not call Mr. Crew Cut, and tell him that YOU have a GOOD one for him: “Keep felting”…
    …And thank goodness that the washer wasn’t located in the basement (i.e. public) laundry room for the building…Kay, you sure can “cut a rug”!
    (It’s really fab)
    LoveDiane

  63. MOST awesome.

  64. Fabulous, just fabulous. I’m almost done with my first one and I can’t wait to start one with Manos. Thanks for the continuing inspiration!

  65. my we are brave are we not
    tourjours gai kiddo

  66. Hooray! I loved the first picture of the rug, but I love the rug even better now that I know how you heroically rescued it from ruffles. It looks awesome and now all the other kids will be wanting one too.

  67. A) i need some chucks
    B) I need to make the rug
    C) if these guys had any real skills or talents you think they’d chose something better than driver’s ed instructor – screw ‘em!

  68. Yes indeed, does a champion figure skater quit when she falls down on the ice? No way–she gets up and keeps skating! Great rug.

  69. Yes indeed, does a champion figure skater quit when she falls down on the ice? No way–she gets up and keeps skating! Great rug.

  70. Sometimes you get the best advice from people you can’t stand, sometimes inspiration comes from unexpected directions. Just keep driving, driving…

  71. Laughing hysterically at the vision of you standing at the washing machine doing this, but the tears really started rolling at the thought of your family passing by and seeing you do it!!!!!

  72. Wow, now you can claim knitting under “heavy labor”. What a job – congratulations!

  73. Beautiful deruffling on this rug. I learned the steering wheel hand positions of 8 and 4 to eliminate forearm abrasion if your vehicle is equipped with SRS.

  74. After seeing this, I really really want to make one! However, the Mitred Blanket That Ate 2008 has produced a case of carpal tunnel, so I have to take some time off knitting. I’m wandering around the house aimlessly these days–I need a new hobby that doesn’t involve wrists!

  75. Congrats!!
    BTW, when driving a car with an airbag, 10 and 2 are no longer the recommended positions. I think it’s now 4 and 6, but since I’ve moved back to NYC , I don’t drive and so I’m not positive about the new positions they now teach in driver’s ed. I first learned this from the Car Talk guys.

  76. I know how you can PREVENT the ruffle!
    Full disclosure: this is not my idea – I read it on the internet somewhere, but I don’t remember where.
    Instead of casting on with color A, cast on with a non felting yarn (I would use cotton) that knits at the same gauge as the Lamb’s Pride. For this project, I’d have to use several strands of cotton held together (hey – the LEFTOVERS from my ballband dishcloths).
    ANYWAY, knit 1- 2 inches in the non felting yarn, THEN proceed to color A. Knit the rest as the book indicates, then knit a few rows at the end with the non-felting yarn. Felt, with the cotton rows in place – these will keep the wool at the ends from splaying out- just unravel the cotton after felting.
    I bet that there will be visible stitch holes in the felted color A after the cotton yarn is removed, but any such holes could be patted closed before drying.
    M in M

  77. You are brave, you did so well! And I blame you that I want a rug like yours NOW. Tell me, the part on the washing machine doing a cycle while you only put the rug edgings in, was a joke, wasn’t it?

  78. Fantastic! I probably would have just tossed the whole shebang in for another round (or used scissors), but your way probably gives better results. :)