I love knitters. You make a knitter a straightforward request, such as “Please knit a 4-inch square for a really good cause.” You jot down a recipe to make this easier. And then you brace yourself, because to a knitter, life is a rich baroque tapestry, full of complexity. There are many ways to do a thing, even a humble thing like a tiny square of small stitches. Sure, knitters want to git ‘r done. But we want to git ‘r done RIGHT. You have to admire that.
So first, before the contest, I will answer more questions about the knitting of the 4-inch squares. These are all real questions that I have received. Some were in the comments, and some raised issues so HORRIBLE and SHAMEFUL that the knitters emailed them to me privately. I did not make these questions up just to give myself something to blog about, because even though there are two of us, posting every day for NaBloPoMo (or whatever it’s called) seems like an unreasonably difficult thing to attempt. I do not say that I will answer ALL the questions, because it is not possible for me to remember all the questions, and even if I could remember all the questions, if we wait a couple seconds, there will be more questions. So consider these questions, and their answers, and see if you still have questions, and if you do, by all means just AXE ME! I am here to help.
Question: Kay, you say to increase at the beginning of each row in the first half of the square, and then you say to decrease at the beginning of each row in the second half of the square, but you don’t say WHAT TYPE OF DECREASE! HELP! I MUST KNOW: WHAT KIND OF DECREASE?
Answer: The type of increase or decrease is a Knitter’s Choice. Free to be, you and me, each of us increasing and decreasing in our own special way. I am doing it the bone-simple way: I knit into the front and back of the first stitch to increase, and I knit the first 2 stitches together to decrease. Being a knitter and therefore never satisfied unless I have considered all possible options, I was tempted to add the refinement of doing the increases as a make 1-left and then to do SSK decreases (also so as to lean left), but then I said “Girl what is wrong with you? This doesn’t matter!” And so, I used the primal KFB and K2tog, which were invented by our ancestors, the caveknitters. (“Make stitch come!” “Make stitch go!”)
Question: Do you want us to slip the first stitch of every row, for ease of sew-up?
Answer: I’m not doing this for my squares. You may do it if you really like to do it. It’s not necessary, or particularly helpful in whipstitching squares together (the current plan), but I want you to have a lot of fun doing this, and maybe slipping the first stitch makes it fun for you, and if that’s the case, knock yourself out.
Question: I’m not getting the same gauge as you, meaning the legs are not 4 inches when I get to a stitch count of 41 stitches. Is this okay? Must I rip out and change needle sizes until I get the correct, spot-on same gauge as you are contriving to get using one size 1 needle and one size 2 needle (bless your heart but you are a MESS)? Since I am a tight knitter, should I use one size 2 and one size 3, or that metricky needle that is between a size 2 and a size 3?
Answer: You do not have to get the same gauge as me. (Nobody ever gets the same gauge as me. I am a Gauge Unto Myself.) Knit at a gauge that seems sock-ish to you. A gauge that you would be proud to see on a pair of socks knitted by your own fair hand, 6 or 7 or even 8 stitches to the inch. When the legs of the triangle equal 4 inches, you begin decreasing, Sisterwoman, whether you have 47 stitches or 35 stitches or some other number of stitches on the needles at that point in time. Somehow I will manage to sew up these squares. I swear to you I’ll do it! (Tip: No matter what your stitch count is when you get to that magic 4-inch triangle-leg measurement, make a note of that number. This will make it easier for you to knit a second square without having to do any more measuring. We hate to stinkin’ measure things! Avoid needless measuring! Remember your Personal Stitch Count!)
Question: Sob! I have committed [insert Big Mistake Of Tragic Proportions That Does Not, However, Affect the 4-Inchiness of the Square]. Should I rip it to nothingness and start again? And if so, can my self-esteem get any lower?
Answer: Pull yourself together and listen to me. Hear me now: the only things that really matter are (1) a proper sockish gauge and (2) a 4-inch measurement. All other discrepancies are embraced with love. Do not rip. Get to the mailbox. All is forgiven and your square will be gratefully received.
Question: Do you care what colors or patterns the yarns are?
Answer: Can I be candid? Am I among friends? May I bare my soul? If you have a lot of choice in your sock yarn remnants, and you are not going to be using them all, and all things being equal, I am very fond of solid colors or subtly variegated colors, and think it’s easier to make solid-ish colors play together nicely at the sew-up phase. If all you’ve got are self-stripers and self-fair-islers and argyle-o-matics, then by all means, knit ’em up and send ’em in. They’re going to fit in just fine. Grays and dulls and murkies are particularly beloved because they will make the other colors POP, like the grout in a glittering mosaic.
AND NOW CAN WE PLEASE DO THE CONTEST?
By dint of wheedling and begging, I have in my possession five copies of Jane and Patrick Gottelier’s brand-new book, Indigo Knits, to give away.
I am already working on my second project from this book. (My first one, a SuperSize Cornish Knit Frock for Hubby, flew off the needles in record time.) For denim fans, and the denim-curious, this book is a must-have, crammed with must-knits. Plus it’s beautiful. Never have fishwives looked so slammin’.
In honor of the Gotteliers being Brits (Cherie Blair blurbed this book, y’all) and Brits being well known for their colorful slang, we are having a SLANG CONTEST!
Here are the rules:
1. Leave a comment to this post, sharing a favorite item of slang and explaining what it means. The slang does not have to be British slang. The slang does not even have to be in the English language, but you should provide an English translation so that we can all share the fun. Regional slang? Bring it on!
2. Leave your comment by noon, Eastern Standard (US) time, on Tuesday, November 13 (which happens to be the release date of the book).
3. There will be 5 winners. Three will win on the merits (categories to be determined, but along the lines of “Funniest” or “Best Foreign Language Entry”, as judged, in highly subjective fashion, by Ann and me), and two will be awarded in a random drawing from all the entrants. Where there is a duplication of entries, only the first one will be eligible on the merits, but both will be eligible for the random drawing.
So without further ado, let us spread our bingo wings* and fly, my friends.
And if you don’t like my rules, it’ll be handbags.**
*Noun. Flesh on the underarms of women who might commonly be seen at bingo nights. Mean but funny, and in my case, bingo!
**Noun. A harmless altercation. Abbreviation of handbags at dawn, which in itself is a riff on pistols at dawn, a reference to duelling. Belinda has explained this to me as what one remarks when two really good-looking soccer players get angry and look all belligerent and mean, like they’re going to tear each other apart, but everybody knows they’re too pretty to really fight–it’s handbags for those two.