Monday, October 20, 2008

Yarn, Trolls, and a Bit of a Tingle...

On Saturday morning, I threw on jeans and a sweater, stuffed my hair into a ponytail, and ran out the door to the post office. I intended to come straight home, but something happened to me as I exited the post office parking lot. As if I had suddenly fallen under alien mind control, the car turned left instead of right. The next thing I knew I was two towns away at a yarn store, holding a huge bag of purple yarn and wondering what had happened.

I had been fighting the urge to buy yarn for weeks. It was constantly on my mind; every free moment I thought about buying it. My lunch hours were torture, as I weighed the necessity of eating versus the twenty minute walk to the yarn store near my office. I have a very small yarn stash but a stash nonetheless; I told myself I had to finish one project before I bought any more yarn. And I fought the urge hard: I had even managed to take two trips to NYC with its plethora of amazing yarn stores and not buy a single yarn-related item.

I am not one known for stifling my cravings; rather, I choose to appease them. Most people (particularly my dentist) would argue that my daily package of M&Ms is unhealthy and unnecessary, but without that daily fix I will systematically eat my way through an entire one-pound bag at one sitting, making myself sick. And then turn to whatever all else I may have handy.

Apparently, I’m the same way with yarn. After suppressing the desire to buy new yarn, it apparently had all built up inside me and was ready to be let loose. Slightly dazed from finding myself there to begin with, I walked into the store thinking I’d just buy one skein of sock yarn to take the edge off. The yarn equivalent of a package of M&M’s, if you will. Then I spied this marvelous sample sweater hanging against the wall in a beautiful wool/alpaca blend. I kept coming back to it, fingering the cuff. I finally consented to look for the pattern, just to dissuade myself; I was sure that it was much too complicated for my ability. While I have been knitting for years, I have never attempted an adult sweater, let alone something intricately patterned.

After some rummaging through a couple of pattern racks, I found it. It was just as beautiful in the picture.

Enter stage left, the sales lady. “Isn’t that a fabulous pattern?” she said. “And that yarn is so great, you’ll be surprised to see how fast it knits up”. I expressed to her my concerns about my knitting abilities, and she reassured me it wasn’t too difficult. I read the pattern and I saw that indeed, it was simply knits, purls, yarn-overs, and knit 2 together, skills I had mastered long ago. The sales lady cautioned me that it would be an expensive undertaking; the yarn would cost $80. This gave me only the tiniest of pauses as I quickly balanced my checkbook in my head. I didn’t need this yarn, and for $80 I could buy two or three sweaters. Or, y’know, a weeks worth of groceries. But it was utterly no use; the minute I saw that sample I was a goner.

I heaped 9 skeins of the yarn into my arms and carried it to the counter. I had never bought this much yarn at one time. It’s a lovely dusky purple, which the manufacturer calls “Troll”. I ponder this, wondering if trolls are purple in Peru, where the yarn originated. I thought to myself, I better really like this yarn. For good measure, I bought another skein of sock yarn too.

The minute I got home I wound a ball of the purple yarn and cast on, in utter disregard to the afghan and two (different) socks I already had started. The yarn is amazingly soft and supple. I knit well into the night, only to wake in the morning and realize something was wrong. I had followed the directions to the letter and I was not getting anything close to the pattern. I mused. I cursed. I counted. I cursed some more. Finally I hit the Internet and within thirty seconds got confirmation: the pattern was wrong.

Oddly, this made me feel giddy with brainpower; I knew something was wrong and the solution was exactly what I had suspected! I'm a REAL knitter after all!!! I ripped it out and began again with a vengeance. Twelve hours later, I had this (albeit not even a close approximation to the actual color...):

Plus some strange tingling in my hands and forearms, but I’m sure that will subside…

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