Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tricot Triage

FoundlingThe recent spate of finishing chez Panopticon continues. To be more precise, I continue to focus on finishing things.

I wish I could blame this heap of unfinished objects on spontaneous generation, or claim they were left on my doorstep in a basket with a note: "I can no longer work on this scarf. Please look after it, and finish it as though it were your own." But no. They're mine, all mine, and I take full responsibility. The only question is which to work on first.
  1. Möbius scarf in Douceur et Soie. Strictly speaking, this is a finished object. But in order to fit the recipient (my mother) I need to undo the grafting and add another few inches to improve the fit. Since this was given at Christmas, and is for my mother, and next Christmas is already approaching, it may step to the front of the line.

  2. Koigu vest. All I have to finish are the armscyes and the neckline. We're talking about twenty-odd rounds of k2, p2 ribbing. What happened? I took it to Knitting Camp, I finished one side, and realized I'd picked up way too many stitches. It looked dreadful. I got discouraged. Since then it has been sitting in a bowl next to my chair, mocking me.

  3. Poetry mittens. I finished one cuff and then decided I really wanted to chart my own poem, not use the one in the pattern. Then I couldn't decide on a poem. Still can't. You'd think I'm engraving my own epitaph in granite instead of just knitting a stupid pair of stupid mittens. Why do I do this to myself?

  4. Regicide Scarf. This one's giving me an ulcer. The yarn - Four Play from Brooks Farms, is delightful to the touch. The pattern, King Charles Brocade, makes it absolutely sing. So, what's the problem? I'll tell you. I hate knitting King Charles Brocade. And I don't mean it bores me. I mean I hate it. And not a small hate, either. A hate that burns with the heat of ten million suns. What's not to loathe about a pattern that is too simple to be interesting, yet too complicated for mindless knitting? A pattern in which it is shockingly easy to lose one's place, and in which the smallest error stands out like a pimple on the heavily insured nose of Heidi Klum? Options:
  • Work the final moss stitch border right now and call it done. It would be five feet long. And I would never wear it, because in a Chicago winter a cute little scarf that won't wrap around my neck and face is a waste of yarn.

  • Concede defeat. Rip it back and use it for something else. And remember, every time I look at it, that nothing will ever harmonize with that colorway quite so happily as King Charles Brocade. And grit my teeth. And get a headache.

  • Shut up and knit to the damn end of the damn ball. And risk becoming one of those people who wanders about in the streets mumbling to himself. In my case, I'll be mumbling, "Knitting is so relaxing. Knitting is so relaxing."

Tulip Jacket Yarn

Knitguyla and Kay were curious about the source of the yarn in the Tulip Jacket. The ultimate source, of course, was Dream in Color, but I got my kit (and therefore colorway) from Arcadia Knitting here in Chicago. If you order from them, note that even though I made the jacket for Abigail, I chose the "boy" colorway. I'm not a big fan of pastels, even for babies, and as I recall the "girl" colorway has a bit more pink going on.

The Imperfect Wagnerite

Christine Olea asked for my general opinion on Wagner operas. Well, I'm not a musicologist, just a garden variety opera lover, but here goes. On the one hand, there are passages in just about everything he wrote (not that I'm claiming to have heard it all) that give me shivers of delight. On the other hand, I wouldn't be excited at the prospect of sitting through all of Siegfried again. Of the bunch, my favorite is Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, which had me at the overture. I seem to recall being thrilled at a Minnesota Opera production of The Flying Dutchman*; but I'm not sure whether the goosebumps came more from the music or the handsome fellow who invited me to go see it with him.

Among the Germans, I still prefer Mozart. More humanity, less theory.

Buddenbrooks Decoded

Yesterday's batch of comments on the mention of "crocheting with two needles" in Buddenbrooks was a delight to read and I'm grateful to everybody who chimed in. Blogless reader "aka Bini" (I believe I parsed that correctly) was first with a well-supported hypothesis, and she undertook to read a text set in 1909 German blackletter for my sake, so she gets the sketch. Bini, please write to me at franklin at franklinhabit daht cahm and let me know where to send it.

And I'd like to give an Honorable Mention, by the way, to Country Mouse, who was first to raise the idea of the crochet/knitting confusion arising from Mann's use of the unreliable narrator.

If you missed the comments, do go back and read. They went far beyond my initial question to include discussions of unusual methods of crochet and debates about what the hell a "landscape room" is. Those Germans have a word for everything.

This is a quality crowd in here, folks. No doubt about it.

*Dutchman does offer the magnificent spectacle of a stage full of spinning wheels. In a live performance, this affords fiber types the pleasure of watching members of the ensemble treadle like they're leading the Tour de France and pretending to spin finished bulky weight yarn on the flywheel. If you can find a production of Gounod's Faust these days, chances are Marguerite will give you a similar giggle while she sings "Le roi de Thulé."


Aidan said...

Shut up and knit to the damn end of the damn ball. Winter is coming and you are already one of those people.

As for Wagner...while I have been known to enjoy a Dutchman, and I would gladly sit trough another Meistersinger, my general impression after sitting through two -- count 'em, two -- Ring Cycles, is that Wagner's purpose in life was to undemine the foundations of Western Civilizations through the calculated use of unresolved chords. One after another after another after another.

A agree with you on Mozart. Give me a little Zauberflöte any day. Or Figaro. Or Cosi. Or Giovanni, or Idomeneo.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear that Regicide is giving you fits - I've have seldom seen a better match of colors and stitch pattern - it's breath-taking!

To me :)

But Franklin, this is your knitting and if the game isn't worth the candle, torturing yourself into finishing it isn't going to change that :)

Anonymous said...

I would grit my teeth and finish the scarf; I've had projects like that, namely a stole in mohair that I used Barbara Walker's Ostritch Plume pattern for. The pattern was not easily memorized, the yarn was impossible to frog, and by the end I was ready to pull my hair out!

I attend the Metropolitan Opera (season subscriber) and avoid Wagner operas at all costs. Die Meistersinger is bearable, but only just. The nice people at the Met are more than willing to let you exchange an opera you don't like! I love Mozart, and my absolute favorite opera is Le Nozze di Figaro, which I see whenever I can. Hmm, great knitters think alike??? (giggling madly)

Anonymous said...

Another option: finish off and give it to the Red Scarf Project. The Scarves don't have to be red, and they don't have to be more than five feet long. They are collected in January I think for February delivery.

Or finish the ball. You've finished a ruana, and this isn't nearly as big. You can do it.

muoriska said...

Thanks again, you made my day shine and.. yes got laughter in to my lips..

There is something in your writing that I like.

Susan said...

Re: The Regicide Scarf

I was faced with a similar dilemma with the Oakley Shawl. I really wanted one. I loved how it was turning out, but I LOATHED knitting with the Berocco Suede. ICK.

It sat in my UFO pile for ages. Then, a couple of months ago, I made a vow to knit 2 rows a day every day until it was done. It worked! The key was to knit the 2 rows on the Oakley first each day before I picked up a project I wouldn't be able to put down.

Try setting a goal, such as knitting 1 pattern repeat a day. When you get near the end you'll just put everything aside and finish the damn thing, and you'll be glad you did.

Anonymous said...

More about Buddenbrooks: In the German critical edition (just writing that gives me shivers), the note by this passage translates as something like "Here Mann mixes up knitting and crochet."

My own feeling about the narrator is that in no other instance does he show himself unreliable. (Although the same critical edition notes that he calls one flower "flieder" when he probably should say, given the time of year, "sommerflieder," which is buddleia.) He DOES have a tone, and an attitude, as shown in his dismissive comment about the lady's project. Mann was an ironist, and subtle, but I think this is just an instance of Homer nodding.

Anonymous said...

Poem? Samuel Taylor Coleridge 'Kubla Khan'...knit the naughty bits! And finish the freakin' ball!

debsnm said...

How much of "a ball" do you have left? More than half? Almost all? Less than half. Is there enough left that you can change the pattern to something knittable and call it an enhancement? If it's less than half a ball, suck it up and knit it. You could contract it out to someone to finish for you. You could go home, close the door, open a bottle of wine, put your favorite (dvd, cd, opera, etc) on, and knit until either it's done or your too far gone to knit. Either way, you've had a great evening. Personally, I think screw up the patter so badly that you can't even see the pattern, and only show that bit to people who want to look. Give it a new, special name, like "Franklin's Last Stand" or "Regicide a la Franklin" or "Screw it, I finished it" - something catchy like that.

Liz said...

Option 4: mail the Regicide scarf to someone who actively likes knitting King Charles Brocade, and will finish it and send it back. International knitting karma will make all things equal eventually...

Anyway, you have a volunteer.

Anonymous said...

Can I just tell you that I'm maybe, if I'm lucky, 3/4 of the way done a baby blanket in a stitch somewhat similar to the King Charles Brocade? The blanket too big, the yarn is too small, and the kid will be college before I'm done. So instead of being covered in baby spit as it's nuzzled by a sweet wee one, it's going to be covered in bong water that gets kicked over during a makeout session at a kegger.

It is this blanket that drove me to the sewing machine. Beware the King Charles Brocade.

Anonymous said...

Aidan beat me to it with the "you are already one of those people." I haven't even met you in person yet and I KNOW. Don't ask me how. I just do.

Puccini's "O Mio Babbino Caro" makes me cry. It's the only reason for putting up with Helena Bonham Carter in A Room With a View. Although seeing Julian Sands in the nude was also quite a plus.

Kathleen said...

FYI - Red Scarf is now October, not January. "The goal is for the scarves to arrive between September 1 and October 15, 2007.
" (http://nownormaknits2.typepad.com/red_scarf_project_2008)

But I'd be keeping the one you are making for yourself - and keep on making it! I like the two rows a day suggested by someone! Will have to try that! :)

Josette said...

Hmmm. I'd have to be a totally evil person to remind you at this delicate moment that I offered you free yarn made just for you back when you were finishing the christening shawl for Abigail ..... so I won't bring that up. Finish-itis seems to be rampant these days - I'm sure glad I don't have it (laughs that chill your blood while pulling her looong hair into spikes)

Anonymous said...

I think of you every single time my iPOD is on shuffle and throws me a bit of The F'ing Dutchman. That was a fun night, and the opera was ok too. Let's do it again soon.

Anonymous said...

When I start going through my UFOs I get a sort of momentum where I Must Finish Everything. I say use the motivation to finish those frustrating projects.

Stacey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stacey said...

Except, of course, that Mozart's Austrian. :)

Anonymous said...

Well, about the Wagner, you have not experienced boredom until you have had to play the double bass part in one of his pieces. Oh my god. Even just an overture is enough to send one over the edge.

And finish the scarf, man! Please?

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with your comments about the King Charles Brocade, after seeing it displayed so nicely on your blog I chose it for one of the patches on my "patchwork" baby blanket.

I think it took me 2 months to knit that 8" square. I can't imagine making it through a whole scarf without killing myself and anyone adjacent to me!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! I just called the shop and placed my order for a boy kit.


Anonymous said...

Send the scarf to me, I will knit it for you. Dolores says she trusts me. (Of course, I had plied her with a good bit of cognac before she slurred something that sounded like I trust you...but maybe it was fricking horseshoe...?)

Sean said...

Regarding unhappy knitting projects, I say rip it out. My feeling is that any knitting project that is not fulfilling and enjoyable isn't worth it. This is after-all, or should be, an enjoyable pastime and if you're not enjoying it, let it go. Life is too short and we have to do way to many things in life we don't enjoy, why let knitting be one of them. Just my 2¢.

datatech57 said...

More on the Red Scarf Project:


Directly from the project itself. They will start taking scarves in September, so you can get that puppy out of your house even sooner!

Anonymous said...

::snerk:: The cartoonlet!

Boy, are you sure you and Steph aren't in synch today? She's got the same problem. Except you don't have anything in your lot that is enticing you. (I voted to go for the ones she wanted to work on; hang being responsible.)

Maybe you need to have recourse to a random number generator. Or throw 'em all up in the air and whatever comes down mostly on top, that's your project. Unless you think you can willfuly ignore your potential finishitis rut, and recklessly start something new. [eg]

Nana Sadie said...

Why not intersperse Mom's Mobius with the King Charles Brocade? When you can't stand one, pick up the other?
Mozart. Whether operatic or sympphonic...ANYTIME - Mozart.

Anonymous said...

Franklin, sorry I am late with this piece of info about "Landschaftzimmer". I had to go look for my old German Dictionary, and here is the translation: Landschaft means "Province", provincial states, representatives of a country. Zimmer means Room, so it could really mean the Chamber of the...... I hope this helps a little. Rita

Christine Olea said...

Thanks for answering my question.
I think you just about summed up my thoughts on Wagner as well. I just saw the Flying Dutchman last week and absolutely loved it. Loved it. Really though, put 80 singing people on a stage and I'm happy. Also the Dutchman himself was so piratical and fastastic, sort of an operatic Gaston. I live the secret life of a tone-deaf (mostly) musicology major so the unresolved chords don't bother me. I'm more keen on the copious use of the horn.
I wonder at whether or not you struggle at all with Wagner's anti-semitism and connection with Hitler; or, like my friend and Michael Jackson, simply separate the man from the artist? I do love that Mozart as well, cheeky as all hell. christinejacobson at gmail dot com. Thanks again for your thoughts.

sara l. - I play the bassoon and hear you on the baseline.

Anonymous said...

Regicide Scarf - I was sure it is a finished object, it was my inspiration for a beautiful baby blanket I knitted in the King Charles Brocade with Artyarn merino and I understand very well your hatred but think you should just suffer and finish it, you will love the result. It looks so beautiful and on both sides too. I overcame the problem of the pattern by counting to myself, it helped and made the ripping back more rare.

Lucia said...

Several people beat me to it, but I'll finish it for you if you want. I love that kind of stuff.

Someone also beat me to the word "intersperse," which I already used to make a similar suggestion to Stephanie about alternating fun knitting with slog knitting.

So I really have nothing to say. Hi! Love your blog.

Anonymous said...

Oh! Oh! Can we be friends?! Please say yes! I just found your blog and I am having fun catching up. I am gay and I crochet - need I say more? You can check out my blog via ze link below. Cheers!

Josiane said...

Oh, I remember how I loved the Regicide scarf the first time I saw it! It is gorgeous. Considering that you like it but hate knitting it that much, I was about to suggest a fourth option when I saw that Liz beat me to it. Well, you now know you've got at least two volunteers if ever you wanted to take advantage of this fourth option. Je serais heureuse de finir de tricoter ce foulard pour vous.

Anonymous said...

You are right about the colorway looking great with King Charles Brocade. Think how happy you will be when you finish it.

Anonymous said...

Well, you could do another photo shoot for intermediate or better knitters. Make a flip chart with one row of the pattern per page. Each subject flips to the next chart, sits down, knits a row, smiles pretty, and "Next, please!" You'll have the pics and a complete scarf.

famous steve said...

The Regicide scarf is absolutely beautiful! I had the same problem with the King Charles Brocade. I started a baby blanket in that pattern, and quickly ripped it for something a bit more mindless. It really does look great with the yarn though. Don't you LOVE the Brooks Farm Yarns! I have a skein of the Four Play in my stash right now waiting to become a scarf. I'm thinking maybe some sort of brioche stitch. hmmmm.... (he said while trying to ignore the closet full of UFO's of his own that need to be finished!)

Anonymous said...

After listening to me whinge about yet another Verdi, my (Verdian) neighbour politely asked after my favourite opera composer. When I said Mozart, the pause that followed was enormous as she tryed to think of him as an opera composer. But then she walked round the garden singing Nozze. Go figure.

Tristan. You forgot about Tristan!

Stellasmydog said...

Don't the Buddhists say that all life is suffering? I'm not educated in this particular spiritual teaching (though intrigued) but seem to remember something about this.
So, seize the scarf and work on acceptance of suffering!


Terri said...

Sorry about the million son hate of Regicide. I have a sweater mocking me with its unfinishedness as well. Either finish is quickly, or rip it out and knit something you like better with that beatiful yarn.

mehitabel said...

Finish it! Just knit a ll the way to the end of the ball, then put it away. By the time the snow flies, you'll love it again.
Last opera I went to was Mahagonny, with Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald. It was an "experience" that would have been vastly improved by an entire bottle (or two) of good wine--my seat-neighbor supplied the whine.

Anonymous said...

Good lord, a secret society of bassoonists! Isn't Lars one as well?

I'll go double on that experience on the bass line in Wagner. Yikes. Give me Mozart any day. That is not swayed entirely by the bassoon concerto, but he's right up there with Beethoven for making the bassoons happy.

As for the finish-itis, well, finish your Mom's scarf. That at least will make 2 people happy. Me, I just succumbed to a Webs sale flyer and I bought about 4 sweater worth of the lovely yet discontinued Skye Tweed, so I'm happy but broke.

Cara said...

Well, I was going to say that you should finish the Regicide scarf, then I noticed that in March of 06 you said it was 4 feet long, and now, 17 months later, it is 5 feet long. At this rate, it might take you until you are eligible for AARP. Maybe it's called Regicide because it makes you want to royally want to kill something?

And Mozart, all the way. I had to sing a little excerpt from the Magic Flute in choir, and I've loved Mozart ever since.

Anonymous said...

The best production of Wagner I have seen was in a documentary called "Sing Faster: The Stage Hands Ring Cycle." At the end of the film, they do all of the operas in the about the last ten measures of the final opera. (And, yeah, I have a master's in voice and can't remember what order they come in.)
Also, I saw Faust at Lyric a few seasons ago. They got around the spinning thing by having Marguerite sitting at a huge floor loom. But I didn't care about that. I just wanted Samuel Ramey to come back on stage.
As far as the knitting goes, I subscribe to the "Just Froggit" philosophy of Scout. If you hate it, frog it. I know I won't wear something I hated working on. Although, I'm not above giving it away. So, there it is.

Anonymous said...

Maybe King Charles Brocade wasn't meant to be knit. According to Barbara Walker, "it is one of the patterns in a vest wrok by King Charles I of England on the day of his execution in 1649." The pattern has bad karma.

Anonymous said...

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.


Anonymous said...

My 2 cents: Please finish the regicide scarf; it is so beautiful, it will pain me via ESP if you rip it out. one of my very early knits was a pullover for my young (then) son in King Charles Brocade pattern, albeit a plain oatmeal colored yarn...I love its pebbly texture. If you can stand the sight of it, feel free to mail it to me and I will finish it and send it back to you. Just note as much in your next blog and I'll send you me email address.

Anonymous said...

Is it permissible to comment twice on the same entry? I just wanted to mention that today over lunch I was listening to Monsterfat Cowbelly on my iPOD. It's a recording you gave me back in the old pre-blog days. It made me think of you, of course. And that made me smile.

rams said...

I'm pretty sure it was Twain who said Wagner must be better than he sounds.

(And o bassoonists, my viola playing friend say you don't know boredom until you're playing viola for an entire evening of Strauss waltzes.)

My bet is that you're knitting in King Chuck as we type.

Christine Olea said...

Huzzah for the bassoon and other oft-forgotten instruments! Though the viola's don't have to sit in front of the brass section, which more makes up for a few Strauss waltzes.

Mary Peed said...

Knitting is fun, if it isn't fun, stop.

Put the moss on the end, call it done and give it as a gift.

la takahashi said...

I just saw Flying Dutchman at the Seattle Opera and sadly they had only one spinning wheel and someone knitting who obviously didn't know how to knit! As a knitter it was so distracting! She kept wrapping yarn on her needles and wiggling them up and down. I am not a Wagner fan but I find Dutchman tolerable. At least it doesn't stress me out the way the Ring cycle does, as Aidan comments with those interminable unresolved chords. Are you going to the Lyric Opera of Chicago this season. OMG! David Daniels! JDF! :o) Lori

Anonymous said...

re. regicide. it's beautiful, but if working on it sucks, either finish it out of pure spite, or frog it & do something else. i'm frogging a scarf that has a similar 'boring-as cr@p-but-not-mindless' thing about it' -- but my thing is ugly as home-made sin and deserves to die...


Anonymous said...

I once heard The Flying Dutchman on the radio with someone describng tthe action so the listeners could follw along. All I remember was him saying "All the women were spinnig at their looms.)


IamKnitGuy said...

Franklin, thank you so much for posting the information about the yarn. It's so nice to see a successful blogger who still takes the time to read his comments - even when there are hundreds! Thanks and be well! Joseph

Amy said...

What about Tristan and Isolde? Yes, plot line was near to zilch, but the very final chords that resolved 5 hours of music before it gave me shivers. And that was after 5 hours of standing through it. Yes, I love Mozart operas, because you're constantly entertained, but once I'm at a Wagnerian, I'm hooked.

comprar yate said...

This cannot truly work, I believe so.

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