Sock…fail?

I don’t want to jinx myself, but I am on the verge of producing two wearable socks. They are not the same as one another, but my diabolical plan to avoid SSS is going smoothly. I finished the first Jane last Sunday and immediately cast on a Francie. Aside from the cast-on being a shade too tight on Francie (it is not unwearable, but I wish I’d made it looser), they are both going incredibly smoothly. I’m really improving at picking up stitches and doing lifted increases. I’ve been knitting for over thirty years and it’s almost embarrassing to admit that I’ve been ashamed of my pickings-up for as long as I’ve been knitting socks (at least a decade now). I could just never figure out how to get it right. Other people would have gone into the yarn store and asked someone by now. I can be special that way. I’ve even been reluctant to ask my own mother. It’s possible my grandmother doesn’t know.

While all of this has been going on, I have been avoiding finishing the pinwheel blanket for two reasons: I have to graft garter stitch, and it’s awfully hot to have the thing on my lap. My cousin reports that she’s having some contractions, and I find myself unmotivated. This isn’t a pretty newborn blanket; it’s a play blanket for rolling around and looking at toys. That buys me another couple of months at least.

Update: In the very short time since I wrote this draft and edited it, my cousin had the baby! Welcome, Declan! Your blanket is…indisposed…and you will have it before you’re old enough to remember not having it.

Last Wednesday, I went in to the Historic New England archives to look at the Codman women’s knitting papers. There was far more than I could see in one visit, so I’m going to have to go back (I have an appointment on July 18). So far I have discovered two things: my French is only as good as my ability to read nineteenth-century handwriting (and vice versa), and grafting in either garter or kitchener is the perennial problem, since I found handwritten instructions for both (in English, thank goodness) among the papers. One thing I’m thinking about now is how to take what’s there and turn it into some kind of interesting story or how to explain its significance to the history of the family. I don’t want to get too esoteric. It was a time when a lot of women knitted; the fact that they did isn’t significant in and of itself. And a lot of women knitted for the WWI soldiers and collected garment donations to be sent overseas. It seems like a rather prosaic activity for such a well-known family. I wonder if there are journal entries that I’ve missed. I should look for that when I go back.

I’ve been interpreting that house for five years this year, and the experience of really knowing the family continues to elude me. It’s sometimes strange, trying to be a historian after many years of being a literature scholar. You can be much more free with interpretation in literature. The characters are fictional; you can’t offend them. But with real people, I’m much more concerned with fairness, and to some degree, with sympathy. I work in their home; I want to like them, or at least understand them. I’m very conscious of not projecting anything on to them that isn’t there. It’s difficult.

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2 thoughts on “Sock…fail?

  1. Grafting garter stitch isn’t so bad, but surprisingly I had a hard time finding clear instructions for it. I guess maybe I should take a leaf from that family’s book and just write them down the next time I need to look it up. Those who fail to learn from history, and all that…

    Congratulations on your new relative! Declan is a great name, sounds so distinguished 🙂

    • I took pictures of the garter grafting instructions on my phone, I think, and if I can make them out, I’ll see what’s what. I know there weren’t any in Cast On Bind Off, but I haven’t checked with Principles of Knitting yet. Someone has to have it!

      I like Declan too! I went to see him yesterday. Very chill little guy, slept happily in my arms for a long time.

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