Yesterday I flipped the calendar to December and, after pausing to admire the engaging shot of a comely butterfly collector* wearing nothing but a pith helmet and a mounted specimen of Morpho eugenia, I smiled a self-satisfied smile.
The first of December is usually the day upon which I well and truly freak out over my unfinished holiday knitting. But not this year. This year I am not freaking out over my unfinished holiday knitting, because I am not doing any holiday knitting.
If that made you clutch your pearls with shock, cease thy clutching. I'm still knitting like mad, just not for Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, or the Feast of Saint Anysia.** There just weren't any projects that matched up with any recipients. Instead, I've got a bunch of class samples on the needles and one or two things for myself.
When the weather got too cold to ignore I pulled the bin of accessories out of the hall closet and realized I hate all my gloves. Gloves are a problem for me. That part of my brain which is supposed to keep track of my belongings is entirely stuffed with the lyrics of songs I hate,*** so I have nine individual gloves but only two matching pairs. They're all store-bought, they're all ugly, and they don't fit me.
It's hard enough being a short man when I go shopping for pants and shirts. Short men are like fat women: the mainstream clothing industry prefers to pretend that we don't exist. But over the years, I've found my way to retail sources for pants and shirts. Not gloves, though. Never in my adult life have I pulled a pair of men's size small gloves off a rack in a store. "We don't bother to stock 'em," I was once told by a snotty salesman at Filene's in Boston. "Nobody's got hands that small." Nobody but those of us who, apparently, could trade mittens with Hummel figurines.
I have had salespeople direct me to displays of women's gloves, with fancy floral stitching on the back of the hand, or pretty scalloped trim at the wrist. I have been offered children's gloves, gorgeously emblazoned with the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers or Dora the Explorer. None of these harmonize with Chippewa motorcycle boots.
I have bought the one-size-fits-all stretchy numbers from Walgreen's, and discovered that they offer no warmth at temperatures below 72 degrees and disintegrate upon contact with snow or ice.
I have tried to tough it out with no gloves, and nearly lost my fingers to frostbite.
I have never thought, until this year, of knitting my own damn gloves. I'm slow like that. I'm so slow that often, when rounding corners, I find myself face-to-face with my own posterior.
This week I decided to knit a pair to go with my new hat, and the scarf that I made to go with the hat. And I got the most madcap idea. Are you ready? I'd knit one glove in each colorway from the two used in the scarf.
I know. You're thinking, "Franklin–deliberately mismatched gloves? You nutty thing! Who the hell do you think you are, the Lucy Neatby?"
Okay, maybe that's not what you're thinking, but that's what I was thinking. And I got fantastically excited and even pictured myself with my eyebrows dyed three shades of fuchsia.
So I jumped right in, using a partial ball of the brown colorway that was sitting on the work table, following Meg Swansen's eye-opening method in Handknitting with Meg Swansen. If you have steered away from gloves because you hesitate to knit skinny finger tubes on double-pointed needles, you must try Meg's method. I won't give it all away, but I'll say this: I-cord.
The glove worked up with lightning speed and when I tried it on after joining the thumb, it fit. Perfectly. Like it was made for me. Which of course it was. So I raced breathlessly down the hand, and hit the end of the partial ball just before the wrist.
I ran to the cupboard to fetch the other ball of brown, since I'd originally got two for the scarf, and that's when it hit me: there was no second ball waiting. The "second" ball is already in the scarf. The partial balls, one in each colorway, are all that's left. There's not enough yarn here for a pair.
I indulged in a moment of rage, during which I may or may not have kicked a teddy bear across the room. Then came an hour of pondering and a white-hot clear epiphany: there's no way in hell I'm gonna leave the house wearing deliberately mismatched gloves.
Allowing myself to do so would unlock a chamber in my psyche that is bolted shut for a reason. I'm already too whimsical for my own good. Today, a wacky pair of gloves, tomorrow an Artistic Hat, and where will it all end? I can't say for certain, but I'm afraid there might be a cloak in the picture. For my own sake and that of those who love me, I am not going there.
But I love this pattern, and I need gloves, so there will be a sequel. I think I have some nice, navy blue worsted in the back of the stash.
*From the Studmuffins of Lepidoptery calendar. What, you think I only pay attention to knitters?
**December 30. Before she was martyred by a Roman soldier he ripped her veil, so I think she should be the patroness of lace knitters.
***And the Wichita liiiinemaaaan is still on the liiiiiiiiiiine.