As you can see, this is a LONG toque; it seems as though the last few requests have been for these. In case it's hard to tell, these look like knitted footballs, closed on both ends. One end is stuffed inside and the extra "bag" is worn flopped to the side in a jaunty way. Generally, the bag just sort of topples - in fact, sometimes they sort of stand up - think "Liberty Cap", which you can see in your doubtless huge collection of illustrations of the French Revolution. The usual length of the untucked toque is about 23"; the long ones are as much as 28".
Here it is, the dramatic END! One more row, then "draw yarn through remaining stitches and pull tight". That's my favorite song, I LOVE drawing the yarn through. Because then I'm done (and can start another). When I'm knitting toques at home (and this is a Confession, don't tell anyone, OK?) I move from the final INcrease to a circular needle. When I get to the other end, of course, it's back to the DPNs to finish up. What this means is that, during the Circular Period, I can knit in the car, in meetings, while watching movies or stuff on the tee-vee. Last night I knitted through a play at the theatre. (A very FUNNY play, by the way: "Noises Off". If you get a chance to see it - or the film version - go for it, but go to the bif first.) I believe I've knitted on a toque while dozing - I could swear I've awakened to find myself closer to the stitchmarker than I remembered being. THAT is scary. I may have got to the point where I'd be well-advised to refuse commissions for a little while.
Here's his dear self blocking out, and Monday he will be on his way to northern Minnesota, where he will be keeping warm a pair of ears participating in a sled-dog race. When I send these lovely caps out (and they're all going to reenactors who portray men *generally* of the Fur Trade) I include an article by a friend on the history and wearing of the ubiquitous toque by the French-Canadians of New France. I also send a sheet of simple washing-up instructions (although the likelihood of the voyageurs intentionally laundering their toques is probably unrealistic); lastly, I affix a Ste Anne's medal to the bag of the toque with a replica 18th century straight pin and a sheet describing the voyageurs' belief in Ste Anne as the patroness of the canoemen. Ste Anne is the mother of Mary, and there was a tiny chapel dedicated to her just past Trois Rivieres where the canoes paused to offer a mite for a safe voyage. They also stopped on their way home, to offer thanks for a safe return....those who were there TO return.
Oh, and yes, I DO have the next on the needles. In fact, it's 10" already, and the lad asking for this one (may his name be blessed unto the tenth generation) only wants a short one!
But my intention today, before being distracted by all these toques, was to discuss my STICKS. I don't know about you, but I have a lotta knitting needles. A LOT.
I "inherited" a bag of old straight needles from a friend who'd got them in at her antique shop and didn't want them. Most of them are 10.5, interestingly. Many of them are turquoise or pink-y salmon-y; they're plastic or metal, very long and some are crooked. A couple of the sets had been taped together with scotch tape, before it was "magic", and it left icky residue. I've been able to get most of it off - but these are being kept for their nostalgic value. In this, the 21st century, I tend to the bamboo.
I keep my straight needles on my dresser. They're divided between the Long Ones (seen here) and the Short Ones (below). Why yes, those ARE a couple of bamboo backscratchers in there with them. And your point is......?? (OK, OK - see, I have this one spot on my right shoulder blade. It itches sometimes. I scratch it myself when Mr Dearling's not at hand.) NOTE: Mr Dearling knows precisely where that itchy spot is, and gets it every time. There's MUCH to be said for 24 years together - and 20 of 'em married. We lived like crazy hippies for four years on account of, we were crazy hippies.
You can clearly see my size Gazonga needles there. I got them to make something. I cannot recall what it was. I cannot recall if I ever made it. I cannot recall if I plan to ever make anything on them. Unlike the talk, which says they're "lightning fast" and you can "make an Imperial-size afghan in 34 minutes", I find them cumbersome. Having said that, however, - Lovely Daughter made an 8' scarf (yep, EIGHT FEET LONG) in about two hours one Sunday at the Sow's Ear on her size Gazonga needles. I know, I was there, I watched her with these selfsame eyeballs resting even now in my eyeball holes.
I inherited my darling Mother-in-Law's (of blessed memory) sewing box, and I keep DPNs and knitting gewgaws in it. It was in the basement of the house in Franklin Square and when we went, Mr Dearling and I and his two sisters, to sort out the house after Mr Grandpa Dearling passed away, the sisters said they didn't have any use for it. I think I've mentioned being sentimental? Well, I am SO loving this box. It now sits in my living room where I can see it from where I sit on the couch blogging, knitting, watching the teevee. So I keep my DPNs in it, and some circulars; I have my point protectors, stitch counters, stitch holders - and so on.
I do have other DPNs, this isn't the whole wad. C'mon, admit it - I bet you have more than one pair of some size needles too. I have three pair of # 7 DPNs, and probably at least two pair of # 8s. I also have multiples of other needles - what happens is, you're happily cranking along on a project while hanging out at the LYS surrounded by your peeps, sipping chai latte (well, a demure cup of Earl Grey, get real) when someone walks by with a new purchase of yarn. NOTE: the Sow's Ear has wonderful heavy-weight clear plastic bags for new yarn, which can be re-used for lots of other stuff - and through which the yarn shows, even if the fumes are contained.
Time slows, everything goes into slow motion. You can see nothing but that yarn, and you just happen to have, in your nifty Rolling Yarn-y Knitty Thingie, the PERFECT pattern for that exact and precise yarn. There is a moment when everything becomes a blur, and when time returns to normal you find the pattern on the table in front of you, three skeins of that jaw-droppingly beautiful yarn in your hands - and nothing for it, you have to buy new needles because, nevermind you have four pair in two lengths at home, you need to start the new project This. Very. Minute.
I keep my toque needles in here, and as you can see - the aforementioned doo-dads; in the lower part I have my short circulars. I guess one could say that, while I do have needles in various parts of the house, the sewing box holds my needle stash, the best ones. I have some that look like tortoiseshell (some kind of plastic, I'm thinking) that are somewhat flexible and as grippy as bamboo even if they look slippery; I have some old DPNs made of bone that are so sharp it's almost painful to use them, but they're so cool-looking!
Oh - and you did notice the white glass jar of crochet hooks next to the short needles. I do know how to crochet, I have made some crocheted things; at the moment, I use them primarily for edging or to rescue some errant hooligan of a stitch which manages to escape and attempt a getaway. I have a crochet hook that belonged to my mother (!) and a couple of those fine black walnut Brittany hooks and a couple of very old bone hooks. I use small crocheted drawstring bags to keep precious little things in, and one of my Pet Tools is a crochet hook (fairly small) which has a cover. You can affix the cover onto the end making a long handle for the hook, and it's proven incredibly useful for all manner of chores, some of which involve knitting.
NOTE: my friend and weekly "knitting" partner Donna crochets, but doesn't knit. May I say (as there are sometimes separations made between the two crafts) that she is a Master Crocheter and has made great large heavy luxurious afghans on the one hand and airy, delicate beaded doilies on the other. She is also incredibly FAST, and our weekly sessions are a source of great pleasure to me. I doff my (knitted) toque to her.
Anyone have any stories about knitting needles? Funny ones, sentimental ones? I still haven't found a 14" black walnut Brittany size 9 straight needle; eventually I'll find one on E-Bay to replace the one I lost in Colorado. Like geese and swans, knitting needles mate for life, but I think if I can replace the missing one, Mr #9 Brittany will be restored to his former contentment and tranquility. In the meantime he enjoys a place of honor in the Tall Needle Vase where he is consoled and cossetted by the other needles.
Sticks and string - what a source of pleasure. The tactile sensation of smooth needles working in one's hands is right up there with the delicious tactile sensation of stroking the elegance of silk blended yarn - or the comforting oft-present Knitter's Cat. On that note:
I'm watching, Mom - close up that laptop and get back to that toque, you still have four to knit....