Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Practice night

With the purple scarf in unworkable condition, my knitting looked like it would be on hold Monday. I gave serious consideration to going to a LYS to browse or buy some more yarn. Ultimately I decided not to go because I didn't feel like going out after getting home from work. Plus, I had some questions I wanted to ask Kristin about yarn choices.

Other than wanting to knit--a good reason, to be sure-- I didn't need to run around and go shopping. I was a little tired from the cold air blowing in my office all day, and I was wrapped up in watching e-mails pour in regarding a film critics group project. In the end, it was for the best that I stayed home, even if my schedule may not permit a yarn run until Friday.

For the last couple years one of my brothers has made it a hobby to collect as many McDonald's Monopoly game pieces as he can. He doesn't eat there. He writes out requests and mails them with self-addressed stamped envelopes. I'm talking hundreds. I don't think he holds any illusions that he'll win the big prizes. He's doing it to amass enough Best Buy bucks that can be used to make a "free" purchase of a couple hundred dollars. He has upfront costs with postage and envelopes, but he's determined that he comes out ahead by enough for this pursuit to be worthwhile.

This year he sent fewer requests, just 220 or so. I'm not sure how many he gets per request, but suffice it to say that he gets a lot. Each piece has a code that he can be entered into an online game for another chance at prizes. Since one person can only enter ten codes a day, he divvies up the remaining codes among family members. I've won somewhere in the area of five hundred free digital camera prints from an online service--a common prize, obviously--but last night I landed on the free parking spot and won a $150 Best Buy gift card. OK, so I wouldn't be knitting that night, but this was a nice way to compensate for it.

I need to send the actual game piece into the prize office, so I called to let him know about my good fortune. He seemed somewhat distracted when he answered the phone. He told me that someone had put a dead dog between his screen door and front door and the police were on the way. I didn't have any reason to believe he was lying, but this was strange enough to have me concerned. He told me he'd call me back after speaking with the cops.

A half hour later he returned my call. Apparently it wasn't a dead dog but a raccoon that had been put at his home's entrance. (As if that makes it any better.) Someone had pounded on his door twice to try and get him to open up and discover the unpleasant present. We hadn't been talking much before I could hear him putting the phone aside and yelling through the door of his house. A driver was there to deliver a pizza he hadn't ordered. This was getting weirder by the moment. He broke off the call so he could ring the pizza place and find out who might have ordered it.

He called back again. Using an online reverse telephone directory, he learned that the phone number tied to the order belonged to his neighbors. He suspects that it all may have been a prank meant to be played on the high school kid who lives across the street or that said teen was responsible. If I had gone yarn shopping, I would have missed out on the gift card and the play-by-play intrigue of this odd situation.

In the meantime, Kristin e-mailed me to say that The Yarn Shop wasn't open on Mondays. (Yeah, that was way too much build-up for a punchline. That story was too good, and I had to bring it full circle eventually.)

It occurred to me that I did have some yarn: the splitty yellow practice yarn. I considered looking up how to purl on a knitting help site, but that plan took a backseat when I fell asleep on the couch for an hour. Some stitches were already cast on the bamboo needles I practiced with, so I thought I'd knit with them for awhile. I had no problem knitting for the sake of knitting. In fact, I was curious to see how I'd do with smaller needles and yarn that had presented some challenges as I learned the fundamentals.

The stitches had slipped off the needle from getting jostled in my backpack. I slid them back on, but one was crossed over. It seemed like a good excuse to practice frogging. I unraveled everything back to the slipknot and cast on fourteen stitches. A stitch must have slipped off while I was knitting, so I frogged it all again and cast on twelve. Even with the little I'd done, I could see how the gauge changed with two fewer stitches.

I knitted a couple rows and paid close attention to how each stitch came off the left needle. I wanted to make sure I understood how those stitches were incorporated into the piece and where I would need to put the needle if I had to undo them. It's making more sense. With the right yarn, I think I should be able to undo more stitches.

I know that there isn't a right way to wrap the yarn, but most of what I've seen shows the right hand wrapping it. That's how Kristin does it. Somehow I got into the habit of wrapping with my left hand. Since I was practicing, I tried wrapping with my right hand. I couldn't have felt more uncoordinated. My stitches were a lot looser, and it never felt comfortable. Why would it? I've been doing it the other way for a month.

It may not be important, but I think there's value in learning to wrap with my right hand. I noticed that I was less likely to push the stitch on the left needle onto the right needle when holding the yarn in my right hand. It's not something I do a lot, but it happens from time to time. For now, though, I'll do it the same way I've been doing it.

I didn't do a lot of knitting, but it was soothing nonetheless. It's good to know that I have a fallback knitting option in the event that I'm out of yarn or stuck on a project. Maybe I'll learn to purl this week too.

Next...my fourth FO, if all goes well.


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