“You must be very patient…”

For some reason, people who don’t knit will often say something along these lines: “Wow, you knit, huh? You must be very patient” or “I don’t have the patience to do that.” This may be code for boy, that looks boring, but let’s take it as an honest statement.

The fact is; most knitters I know are no more patient than non-knitters I know. I certainly am not patient. If knitting required patience, I wouldn’t do it. If knitting gets boring, I stop and read a book or clean the bathroom. Evidence exists (in the form of the growing stack of books next to my bed) to show that I don’t often quit my knitting to read. Let’s not talk about the state of the bathroom.

But as I was carefully taking out about 8 hours of lace knitting a couple of weekends ago, and trying not to weep over missed yarn-overs, it dawned on me that there’s one type of ‘patience’ that knitters do need.

You need the willingness to be patient with yourself. When I was first learning to knit, it did not come easily. I had a couple of false starts, and I couldn’t even do garter stitch very well for at least the first two months. I had to learn then to forgive myself for making the same mistakes repeatedly. But once you have the basics down, it’s easy to get a bit smug about your knitting.

Then you try something new. The self-congratulatory smugness evaporates. Basic cable knitting isn’t technically difficult, but there are many things that can go wrong. The first time you make a thumb gusset, do two-handed stranded colorwork, or try to figure out how to cast on across a gap when making glove fingers, it can feel as if you’ve started fresh.

Lace knitting, for me, is as hard to do as learning to knit my first garter-stitch scarf. Since I need to block out uninterrupted time to work on my lace projects, it can be weeks or months between sessions. Skills like reading complex charts, or leaving a little extra slack in certain stitches (allowing those K3Togs room to happen later), or just being able to read your own knitting can leak away in the meanwhile.

But getting mad at myself doesn’t help. Having some patience with my own need to relearn techniques I’ve already forgotten three times, forgiving myself for making mistakes I’ve made a dozen times before…

Yeah, patience can be a virtue.

Quick update

I figured that since two months have passed since I last updated, it would be better to do something than to leave this until my angst level reached some sort of overload. Since last we spoke, I’ve been very busy. Very little angst, really. We went to San Fran and had a great time. The communications conference went very well, although trying to keep up with normal work while also attending day-long sessions was exhausting.

View from our room at the Westin St. Francis, San Francisco, Calif., Jan. 2011
View from our room at the Westin St. Francis

The view from our room was really nice, though the room itself wasn’t.

Myr and I played tourist where we could. We had a fantastic dinner at The Slanted Door, we rode the cable cars to Fisherman’s wharf, I bought a bunch of nice yarn at Artfibers, we did get to see the Britex store, and we were really glad that we’d brought warm clothes, as after the second day of unusually warm weather, the fabled rain closed in, and our trip to the north shore area was very damp, though still stupendously scenic.

Harbor View
View from the cable car on the way to Fisherman's Wharf
Knitting a swatch at Artfibers
Knitting a swatch at Artfibers
surf breaking
Surf along the coast north of SF


Crossing the street outside the Weston
Oncoming cable car seen while crossing the street outside the Weston

Back home, I’m actually knitting with some of the yarn I got at Artfibers. This is a simple basket-weave scarf that I’ve been knitting on as my ‘train knitting.’ It’s coming out okay. This will be my scarf for next winter.

a basketweave scarf made using cable techniques
A scarf I am making from some Artfibers silk and angora yarn

The weather continues to improve here in Indian Land. One of my favorite spring trees is blooming. I love the colors of American Redbud.

Redbud blossom
Closeup of flowers of the American Redbud

On the knitting front, I am only two fingers away from completing the second of a pair of knitted gloves. I finished the first one about a year ago. It will be very nice to have the pair done. I can count it as a half pair for the 11/2011 challenge on Rav, too. I’ve also finally cast on for the first of the Electric Purple Eisblume, which look to be the most-advanced knitting I’ve tried yet.

Also since my last post, I went to a technical conference in Denver, and on both the SF and the Denver trip I spent the flights knitting two pairs of baby mittens. These turned out well, but I’ve managed to lose one mitten, and I still haven’t bound off on another. They were uninteresting except that on the Denver flight the light was bad, and I forced myself to do most of the body knitting without looking more than occasionally at my hands. I’ve never previously been able to knit more than one or two stitches without looking.

Okay, that’s enough for now. More to come, I hope.

SF CA or Bust

I’m going on my first out-of-state business trip in… ever, it seems like. The last plane trip I took on business was from Mass. to N.C. sometime around 1984. I’m attending a two-day meeting in San Francisco, and Myr is coming along for the trip. We’ll extend it into the weekend, and spend a couple of days looking around SF (a city we’ve each visited only briefly), dining at wonderful restaurants, and visiting…. (wait for it)… yarn shops! I know you are shocked. So far we’ve a plan to go to Artfibers, and of course we are open to suggestions for other great shops. We’ll be staying in the financial district, so if you know of a must-visit LYS in the city, leave me a comment. I’m hoping that Myr will visit Britex Fabrics, which isn’t really my type of store but I may break down and visit just for the chance to look through their button selection, which is reputed to be amazing.


As for food, I’m hoping to have lunch on Friday somewhere in Chinatown, we have reservations that evening at The Slanted Door (near the SF Ferry Building), and we’ll probably be up near wine country north of the city on Saturday, so we’ll be likely eating out in a little town called Petaluma. I’m thinking of renting a car for the day and taking a drive along the coast