Friday, February 10, 2012

I am well started on the seaman’s hat. It’s going to be a three-night job, rather than the hoped-for two, but that can be endured. “Tapestry” – 70% wool, 30% soy – is turning out rather slippery and I’m glad not to be embarking on a major project. But I think it will be cosy and comforting at sea, and the colour is perfectly manly. Pic soon.

And I am increasingly excited about the sock-knitting project I have talked myself into. Daisy (comment yesterday), I have downloaded and printed – seven pages – Yarnissima’s “Brainless” pattern. Thank you. I gather from some of the comments of the many people who have knit it, that it may come into the O-easy-for-Leonardo category – but that’s the whole point here: challenge!

But, Beverly (comment yesterday), I don’t need to relieve the tedium. The tedium is the whole point. I am sure I have told you often before how sock-knitting has entirely relieved me of the Fear of Flying. To the point that, on my most recent flight – which may well remain my last-ever – to my nephew Theo’s wedding in CT three years ago, I didn’t get much knitting done at all.

In my mother’s later years, after she had stopped travelling, I tried to visit her twice a year and usually managed it, in a state of abject terror when aloft. In 1996 we both went, to celebrate her 90th birthday. By that time, I was on-line and had discovered Patternworks and Socka Colors. I hadn’t knit socks for ages but I took some sock knitting along, in the greenish shade often called “teal”, and knit my husband a pair.

That was before 9/11. Knitting in the air was no problem. The relief of anxiety was astonishing.

Ever since then, I have kept socks on the go for travel and waiting rooms. As we recently saw when my husband was carried off to a&e with ominously low blood sugar due to not having come to supper when he was summoned. He was flat on the floor, the house was full of ambulance men and kind neighbours, provision was being made – by the  neighbours – to provide me with a well-charged mobile telephone. All I had to do was pick up the Designated Knitting Bag, and I did it. I got quite a bit done, that night.

Wooden sock needles, and a severe mien, always sufficed me with the airline authorities. I had trouble with a Virgin Atlantic stewardess once, while aloft post 9/11. I had her call the chief steward. He said, “Those are cocktail sticks, madam. Go on knitting.”

Once or twice, I have introduced patterns, but I much prefer round-and-round. Maybe under the influence of Gibson-Roberts I’ll move on to leg-shaping.

I could almost wish away my two madelinetosh projects in order to get started with my sock-year – perish the thought!

[An interesting essay could be written about historical events important enough to be referred to only by their date. It is Shakespeare who has made “the Ides of March” a by-word for us, but the Romans, Cicero at least, used it too, often referring just to “the Ides”, or “the glory of the Ides”. He was anti-Caesar, delighted by the assassination. I sort of think the French have lots of such dates. We Anglophones have got the Fourth of July and the Fifth of November. During the war, December 7th, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, had such a status, temporarily.]


  1. Barbara M.11:06 AM

    On our recent cruise, we visited Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial. I think Dec. 7, the "day that will live in infamy," still deserves its designation as one of those dates. Nov. 22 is another one for most people in my generation. And of course, Nov. 11. You're right, Jean, thinking about this has definitely waked up my brain this morning!

    Barbara M. in NH

  2. I thought of Quatorze Juillet. I do shape my socks, but not very scientifically. After a few inches I decrease 2 sts at what I hope will be the back of the leg every inch or so, a maximum of an inch's worth of stitches. This seems to help the sock stay up and fits better, at least on me and my knit worthy sock recipients.

  3. Few people mention it but I always remember Pearl Harbor day. I'm a baby boomer but my parents told many stories of WWII

  4. Anonymous4:23 PM

    Like others here, I always note December 7 even though Pearl Harbor was long before I was born. November 22 is unforgettable as well. And le 14 juillet, even though I'm not French.
    -- Gretchen

  5. Brainless is a wonderful pattern - I really like Yarnissima's work. I look forward to seeing your version.

  6. Sarah JS12:54 AM

    Once upon a time, back when my husband played softball, he was having a most excellent softball game whilst I was in the stands, cheering and chatting. (Hadn't learned yet to bring the simple sock knitting along.)

    Then, tragedy. An fly ball, caught, ended the inning, but also my husband's participation in the game as the ball had struck his glove at an odd angle, injuring his thumb. The thumb promptly swelled. So off we head to the ER. We had to drive within 2 blocks of our house to get there. Wouldn't he like a book to read? Wonderful, I'll just nip in to the house and get it. Was back out in record time with HIS book and MY knitting. Most peaceful ER visit we've had.

  7. Anonymous2:08 AM

    My husband always remembers the significance of December 7th because that was the beginning of the "interesting" times his family had as Japanese-Americans. And I almost took my mother to the ER today. We didn't go, but I told her it was because I had a 3-hour project in my bag, not a 12-hour project. He's fine, she's fine, I want to see our daughter in London, who is also fine!