Noro Silk Garden Solo is available at Webs and Jimmy Beans Wool, and at your local purveyor of Noro.

On Piecework and Passing the Time

Dear Kay,
I was out shopping for underpants (whoops, sorry for that) when I happened across this little cardigan (not in the underpants department):
doublemohair.jpg
It’s two layers of mohair! So pretty together.
Knitted in Mongolia. Assembled in China. Bought in a giant suburban sprawl mall in Tennessee for the sale price of $42. I hardly know what to make of that.
I have been thinking about my reading habits of late. I used to be a great reader–read all the time, got nervous if I didn’t have a book going. Now, with all this knitting going on, I can’t turn the pages of a book anymore. I am missing books.
Last year a Cuban playwright, Nilo Cruz, won a Pulitzer for Anna in the Tropics, a play that takes place in a Tampa cigar factory. As the workers make cigars, one lector reads them Anna Karenina. Apparently this was a common practice–reading classics to make the piecework pass faster.
In the interest of having my own portable lector, I just spent an irritating half hour futzing around with USB cables because I wanted to be able to download audio books to listen to while I knit. The futzing led to a customer service phone call to audible.com, where, to their credit, they play audio books instead of Muzak while you wait, so I got to hear a good ten minutes of Charlotte’s Web which was a shrewd choice on audible.com’s part because they knew that nobody could be in a crabby mood after listening to Charlotte’s Web. It turned out that the fakey iPod audible.com sent me for listening to audio books is defective, but I didn’t even care because I was thinking about Wilbur and Lurvy and Charlotte and what a life-changing book that was for me.
I would suggest that it would be great to have a knitting circle with a lector like the one our dear pal Julia discovered at the Knit Cafe in L.A., but who would draw the short straw to read?
Love,
Ann
PS After some more poking around I learned that I can listen to Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress on my blogphone. Is this progress? How do those Mongolian knitters pass the time?

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. I just want to point out that if you average this amazing double-mohair cardi and the Habu Jacket, you got a great deal on both of them!
    What an amazing bargoonie!
    Your Personal Enabler (on the job at all times),
    Kay
    P.S. Note to Self: Stop buying underpants at the Gap. (Sorry for that!)

  2. Goodness! Get thee an iPod soon! I am a librarian and I used to read those things called books until I got really hooked by knitting fever.

  3. I’m with Max, an iPod is the best answer. Although I was getting by without too much trouble with the little thingy audible.com gives you when you join. Otis, I think it is. My troubles came making it work with my Mac (crossing over to the dark side, as it were). I ended up using the one lonely PC we have at work to download. Anyway, since I won that iPod, its all systems go go go! I’ve gone through more books in a month than in the year before.
    Knitting while someone reads to you is lovely–make the fellas do it! Last night J read me “Trixie Belden and the Secret of the Haunted Mansion” while I knitted away. What a pleasant flashback!

  4. I thought reading aloud as we knit is what husbands are for. Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn to Decadence has seen me through a pair of newborn cardis and blankets, a silk garden cardi and a Lopi cardi, but don’t ask me to summarize the account of the reign of Louis XIV because I was obsessing (and probably muttering “sacre bleu”) over crochet trim at the time.

  5. I have somehow managed to take up knitting AND reading. Neither goes very quickly but it makes you feel super productive. The hardest part is getting the book to stay open!

  6. Oh, boy….that sounds lovely in theory, but the way my brain works (one thing at a time, I’m afraid — I think that’s what makes a court reporter tick. The courthouse could fall down around me and I’d still be taking down the words and later say, “Armageddon? Where?”) I think the knitting would suffer. But it’s worth a try — coz I, too, can’t get in any reading, and I feel somehow impure because of it.

  7. I see a new frontier ahead for Mason-Dixon…the first knitting blog to go audio?
    I used to go to a free classical concert every Wednesday at noon and take my knitting, but I’ve fallen out of the habit. Maybe I can make it a new year’s resolution, after I’m through the fall deal frenzy. In the meantime…books on an iPod? How perfect is that for airplane knitting? (Honey? Where did you hide the extra iPod?!)

  8. I’m in love with your sweater! Where did you get it?

  9. That makes me think of that scene in Gone With The Wind where they are waiting for the guys to come back from a “political meeting” and Melanie is reading David Copperfield to everyone while they sew!

  10. I’ve been listening to “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” on my MP3 player lately while I knit. But your post reminded me of when my first son was born. He was in the NICU and I was having a hellish time trying to nurse him. My husband would read “Life with Father” by Clarence Day to me. I love that book but when I think about it now it just reminds me of pain and frustration.

  11. I am the happy owner of both an iPod and an Audible.com account. I love them both. When I was having problems getting iTunes to work with my Audible stuff, they gave me two free audio books for being patient while they got back to me. I love to listen and knit. The books are also nice for transatlantic flights when you don’t have a functional reading light.

  12. very funny that you mentioned the books-on-tape book club as I am working on our newsletter and will be announcing Threaded Bliss Yarns’ very own books-on-tape book club!

  13. I know exactly what you mean about the reading thing going to hell because of knitting! I am a book maniac and always have been, but for some reason, since August the knitting has had the upper hand. Life has been chaotic for me since June, and I think knitting has been more soothing for me than reading right now.
    If you love books, please check out my literary blog, “Musings from Redwing Marsh.”
    http://redwingmarsh.typepad.com

  14. I love listening to my audible.com downloads while I knit! A while back Kay was discussing her labyrinthian border and someone suggested “Larry’s Party”. Well I read it and loved it. I wish more people would suggest books to go with knitting, or movies. I rented “Le Divorce” strictly on the recommendation of someone who loved the long red sweater in the end! Annhb

  15. Ah…the toughest of all choices. A bookweight is quite helpful for those who can knit and read at the same time. For books on tape, it is always fun to choose a book you already know (like Charlotte and all her E.B. White sibs or Scout and company in To Kill a Mockingbird) so that you don’t have to pay close attention to the story when you are knitting something tricky. (of course, I rarely do lace or other tough stuff…) NPR is my normal knitting companion, but books and magazines are my faves. I still remember those socks I knitted when I was on deadline for reviewing Harry Potter IV–some muggly mistakes are there, but mostly a smug sense of doing two pleasurable things at the very same time remains.

  16. Kay–I was the one who brought up underpants. Sorry for the TMI.
    Susan & Max–I have been trying and trying to avoid the obvious fact that an iPod would be THE solution to my problem. As you can tell, I’m kind of a gadget hound, and I’m always on the hunt for the perfect solution to the problem I don’t really have.
    Cristina–At least your hubbo reads you Barzun. Mine would tenderly bring out the latest issue of Barron’s and get all wound up reading to me about mezzanine funds.

  17. I do not want to sell my man short: Hubby is fond of reading the New York Post to me. Page 6 and/or the racing page when Saratoga is in session. Not really enriching the knitting for me, frankly. More of an irritant to be tolerated while knitting.
    I have started to be able to flip through magazines while knitting, but it’s annoying to stay on the same page for a whole row. Maybe I need to step up from Martha to the New Yorker.
    Gives a whole new meaning to “Knit Lit”!
    Kay

  18. Teaching first grade will keep you from knitting and reading. I tried to cram in as many books as I could this summer knowing I was about to hit a dry spell.
    Ann, I’ll read to you this summer, but it’ll be along the lines of Running with Scissors.
    Happy iPod shopping.

  19. I have Robert Jordan’s mammoth Wheel of Time cycle lying in ambush on my computer. I knitted through parts one and two waiting for the action.
    I still prefer paper books and I think Max will agree. There is nothing like picking up a book by an author you like and start immerging yourself in it. Got a note from Postie that Stephenson’s System of the World and Pratchett’s Going Postal are waiting for me at the post office. Both will be read exactingly, as both author are masters of word plays, puns and minutiae.

  20. Becky–The double mohair sweater came from a beloved department store called Parisian, which of course in Nashville ends up being called Parisian’s, just as you go to Kroger’s and Krystal’s. My Alabama friends will correct me if I’m wrong, but I do believe Parisian is headquartered in Birmingham. The sweater is by Free People, who make stuff that looks like Anthropologie–if Anthropologie were kookier.
    By golly, a surf on el Web never fails: here’s the VERY sweater I bought. That’s me modeling it, too. I dyed my hair, shrunk all my clothing, and lost thirty pounds. The New Me! Finally! And I’m twenty now! Yaaaaaay!

  21. My mother is a knitter, and has always been. My aunt tells me that when they were teenagers, my mom would sit in the doorway between the living room and the girls’ room and knit. She would have the TV on in the living room, the radio on in the girls’ room. AND she would be doing her homework at the same time. How does that sound?

  22. Kristel, that image made my day! I had a pal in law school who listened to his stereo, watched MacNeil/Lehrer and studied at the same time, night after night. I could never understand how his brain could accomplish this. It was like living 3 lives. And he actually absorbed all 3. He also subsisted only on Fried Food and was the picture of fitness and you-handsome- dawginess. (I’ll find a picture of Bob somewhere…..) One of the compensations of getting older is seeing Bob order the grilled chicken……….xoxo Kay

  23. OMG Ann! I just checked out that link. You absolutely need to accessorize your new sweater with a rilly fancy bra! xoxox Kay

  24. Kristel–You didn’t mention whether your mother and aunt were multitasking in FINNISH. I just had a look at your blog, and crikey that’s an amazing language. Fortunately, your photos speak the international tongue of Lookeehere.

  25. Your public library is a great source of audiobooks…either on cassette or CD…As a Knitting Librarian, I have to at make an attempt to get some current reading done, and the audiobooks allow me to knit and read at the same time. Our book group just finished Once Upon A Town, by Bob Greene..a great non-fiction book that the whole book group of 12 loved…this rarely happens. We are on to Alexander McCall Smith’s, No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency…most titles are available in audio format. If a book is on the best sellers list or a classic, your library has the title in audiobook or will get it for you. So if you want to listen to Bill Clinton’s life on tape, or Richard Clark’s Against all Enemies, please check out your local library. You don’t have to miss out on reading with audiobooks! Check it out! Mary

  26. I only skimmed all the other comments, but it looks like Mary got to my low-tech solution…books on tape and CDs. (Cheap, and when I break downa nd buy one I listen, share it with my other ‘recorded-books-reader’-friends, then donate to my public library.) I highly recommend Alexander McCall Smith series, and on tape you get the wonderful lilt of the actress who reads! I think it’s fun when an author has the hero be of their opposite gender…also look at Jan Karon’s work. :-)
    Knit and “read” on!

  27. all of my “sit back and relax, and READ” ambitions (broken arm, no dishwashing, no knitting) have gone to pot. i find myself wandering the streets after dark with packing tape gun in hand, putting up (illegally) posters for a concert that i am now convinced nobody is coming to.
    it’s cold in montreal.
    i recently heard a feature on books’ first lines on NPR, with Nancy Pearl (Purl?) she sounds great! and the feature gives me so many book ideas! and what a formidable thing, to have a librarian action figure modeled after you! glad to have the added bonus of reading ideas on this great knitting website !

  28. I have to say, I love my ipod. But I, too, miss reading books (the old-fashioned way). I can hardly believe the sheer volume of reading that was done back in college (I was a lit.major). We really raced through those classics…..

  29. my friend from Norway always talks about how the latest thing was to knit 2 sweaters aand then felt them together- I never really understood the point of that(that sounds like too much knitting to me-maybe something was lost in translation) but that sweater is gorgeous and actually makes since-what a unique look!!!