Three winters ago, I decided that I needed to add to my extensive list of hobbies. I don’t cycle or camp when it’s cold out. While climbing remains a viable option, I’m not strong enough to visit the climbing gym more than twice a week. Without natural light to work under, the art supplies remain stored away over winter.

As a kid, I specialized in wrist jewelry made of rexlace, embroidery thread, or seed beads. I made sculptures (and ashtrays) out of pottery, polymer, and modelling clay. My primary school book reports were often accompanied by papier mâché heads of the characters’ likenesses which I now realize may have weirded out my teachers. I pointlessly melted and re-formed crayons by throwing them in boiling water. I had a calligraphy set and a collection of rubber stamps with embossing powder.

I still have glitter in my hair from that era.

Most of my local friends were athletic, not crafty; however, every other weekend, my parents and I would travel across the Fraser River to a small town named Anmore. One of my dad’s best friends lived there, and he had a daughter my age named Alexa. When Alexa and I weren’t hanging out in her parents’ bedroom playing on the SNES, we’d be in her room experimenting with the latest craft trends.

I just learned today that this is called a “Knitting Nancy”.

Alexa was the one who taught me how to use one of those notched cylindrical doohickeys which, together with a crocheting hook, creates a yarn turd that can be coiled up into a rug. Latch hooking was another Alexa-inspired hobby that I got into.

We were into rugs, not drugs.

Sometime in the late 90s, our dads decided to continue their friendship without involving the whole family. Without a ride to Anmore, Alexa was left behind in my childhood. What remained of my adolescent years were spent trying to align my interests with my other friends’, like joining the grade 8 soccer team.

In my absence, Alexa graduated from crocheting turd-rugs to knitting enough sweaters to dress the entire population of Anmore. Maybe not personally, but she was designing and selling patterns too. Moreover, I had been replaced by somebody named Emily, who is now the other half of Tin Can Knits.

I considered sending Emily some calligraphed hate mail using handmade paper pressed with dried flowers. But I stopped myself for two reasons 1.) I don’t have Emily’s address and 2.) It’s super unlikely I’d have ended up being the other half of Tin Can Knits. I’d have proposed calling it Knitty McKnitface or something equally inane and started designing wacky stuff like cat rompers or Fresco Jesus sweaters. I might have even insisted that we instead put all our energy into latch hooking and call ourselves The Rug Hookers.

With both Alexa and Emily’s remote help, my ridiculous ideas will someday materialize. First, I started simple. Using the tutorials they wrote, as well as the patterns they designed, my first two projects were the Wheat Scarf and Barley Hat.

The cool thing about knitting is that with enough practice, it gives you the freedom to make anything you want. Two years ago, I was in pursuit of a simple slouchy white toque, much like the ones Smurfs wear. (Trivia: Smurfs are called Les Schtroumpfs in French.)

Now I have one.

(My tattooed right arm is also mainly blue.)

The point of this post, though, is to share my latest project… which will probably be unravelled eventually:

Name that pattern.

I think it looks cool, and there is clearly a pattern, but my issue is that I don’t think it is apparent what the pattern is supposed to be. To create this toque, I used the Anthology recipe, which comes with a sampling of colourwork stitch patterns but I got overly ambitious.

It’s meant to be tessellated lizards based on the work of the artist MC Escher. You know, Dutch guy? Not the one who cut his ear off, but the one who doesn’t know how stairs work? Anyway, I think this could have worked better with sock weight yarn which would have allowed for more complex details. 

Unlike drawing or painting, I don’t have to spend time setting up my workspace and then cleaning up afterwards. I can work on my great terrible ideas during my breaks at work, from the passenger seat of the car, or in bed. I’ve even seen people knit while using an indoor bike trainer!

Only 5 more months of winter to go…

One thought on “Yarnwork.

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