Dear Kay, and All You Holiday Shoppers,
So what was in the Mystery Box?
Good guesses, y’all, but the box was not a Hogwarts trunk nor a Skynard box, nor did it contain Elton John and Dolly Parton, a generator, airline food, a spinning wheel, an upside-down Christmas tree, or our book.*
The Mystery Box held a Segway.
There has been endless curiosity about Segways in our household ever since seeing them at Disney World, so for Hubbo’s birthday we rented one for a week. Do not ask me how to rent a Segway; I have no idea. All I know is that last Monday, the Mystery Box showed up in our basement.
It’s really cool. The 17-minute Video of Terror instructs you how to operate it, but it mostly shows you every single way you can wipe out on a Segway. After viewing this orthopedist’s catalogue of opportunity, Hubbo and I looked at each other: This was a terrible idea. Kids will never be able to ride this thing. We have made a huge mistake. But as with anything involving balance, hand controls, and speed, kids are much better at Segwaying than grownups. All the visiting fambly took a spin. After watching a dozen kids whiz around, and a half dozen adults performing varying degrees of goofy behavior, I realized that the 16-year-old age limit is the maximum age, not minimum.
After a week of trying to figure out a practical use for this contraption, we realized that there’s probably a big market for, uh, renting them out to people for a week.
Perfect Sweater: Speaking of Hair-raising . . .
Your devoted yet disorganized test knitter has finally finished all the pieces to the first beta version pattern which we’re calling Perfect Sweater: Beta Version. It’s a damned good thing I’m testing this, because despite the fact that this ought to have been the Simplest Pattern Ever Written, I’ve made all sorts of mistakes. Feel free to fire me at any moment; it’s too embarrassing to tell you all the pfaff-ups I’ve made–OK here are a couple just to make you feel good.
1. Right Side Versus Wrong Side. I clearly have some kind of Side Dyslexia, because the pattern I wrote called for stuff to be done on the wrong side when in fact it was clearly a right-side event. R means “right.” Just keep repeating that.
2. Decreases. Decrease Dyslexia. I put the k2togs on the right side of the sleeve cap, and the slip slip knits on the left side. The resulting sleeve caps have what we call “Frankenstein scar” moments where stitches do the unthinkable and slant the wrong direction. It’s just too awful to show you. OK here it is just to make you feel good.
Gruesome! I figured out my mistake only by studying the Fern sweater which has polite little bands of two stitches marching along the sleeve seams.
3. Sleeve Insertion Problems. No, this has nothing to do with family planning. In a cavalier, carefree moment I decided to try Ann Budd’s suggestion for sewing in a set-in sleeve.
This meant throwing away all the hard-earned set-in-sleeve skills I had achieved after worshipfully following the Word of Rowan, even the “carefully ease cap of sleeve into top of armhole to create a slight curve”–an order that ranks up there with “slightly stretch the buttonhole band.” Slight. SO slight. I knew how to make a slight damn curve in my sleeve cap. But Ann Budd makes no mention of slight curve, in fact exhorts a person to just match up the stitches and have at it. Sort of like some drop-shoulder-style piece of cake. It sounded so much easier than carefully easing. Yes, it was too good to be true. The result is too awful too see–OK here it is just to make you feel good.
See the top of the sleeve? How flat that connection is? A set-in sleeve ought to be a little three-dimensional–you know, so it’ll fit a human shoulder, not the edge of a box. (AND QUIT LOOKING AT THAT FRANKENSTEIN SCAR. It can’t help it.)
Now. There is some good news amid the horrors.
Ms. Small took a spin on the catwalk, and it looks like the usual bugaboo of my existence, the sleeves, are actually an acceptable length for her. The length is good too. The neckhole is large enough for her head to fit through. The three-needle bind-off really did require only three needles. And the seam looked like a seam. The yarn didn’t fall apart.
Small mercies. I’m grateful for the small mercies.
I’m off to futz some more and fix stuff. At this point I welcome comments, suggestions, and tasty helpful tidbits. And I want to be sure that nobody’s freaked out by my rambling about set-in sleeves. (LIBBY. You are going to knit this sweater.) This is going be a very manageable pattern, I promise. Once it’s written in a knittable way.
All you patient test-knitters: I’ll be sending this off to you this week. The deadline is next Monday–OK I’m just kidding. We’re not going to get hung up on the deadline thing, are we?
*Book update: Kay’s still running the mimeograph machine, and I’ve got to buy some more staples before it’ll be done. Did we mention that it’s going to be a coloring book?
Dear Kay, and All You Holiday Shoppers,