A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, they say. Specifically, a little knowledge of knitting terminology. I gave my friend Maria a few skeins of Manos del Uruguay and some felted bag patterns as a birthday present this year, and her husband Pat became fascinated with the concept of twisted string on sticks and the performance of this activity. He learned to be aware of a look of intense concentration as fingers flit across a needle, ticking off groups of stitches. Counting. He learned not speak to her when she is counting. His physicist's mind puzzled over the yin and yang of knit and purl. He was intrigued by the topology of the French Market bag, and he was enthralled by the felting process, having seen a shapeless, floppy sack leave the living room and come back a damp, thick, tight, fuzzy basket in almost no time flat.

Then, as Maria began her next project (a sweater for him) and as I sat with her to give tech support, and as we laughed and knit, he asked of everything in my WIP bag, "Is that going to be felted? Is this? What about this?" only to receive a simple negative to each curious question. When he asked if his own sweater was to be felted, the impassioned cry of, "NO!" from both of us could be heard in the next county.

It's enough to give a knitter hives, this insistence that this new piece of information be applied to every situation. It's the knitter's version of the old truism, "To a person with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."

In my home, John has recently seen the wonders that blocking can accomplish: taking lumpy, shapeless, blobby lace and replacing it with a floaty, airy scarf, or transforming an odd-looking garment into a finished, fitted sweater. Yesterday I finished a pair of socks for John, out of wonderful Wool in the Woods' "CW Ewe" superwash* merino (found only at The Mannings - another reason to return there, as if I needed one). As I handed them to him, straight off the needles (and straight off the airplane they were finished on), he asked, "did you block them?"

"No, honey - socks don't really need blocking."**

"Yes, they do," he intoned, the way a child does when they're making up some new Rule of the Universe, pulling a concept straight out of their ass and asserting it to be true by the power of their mind and will, "Everything needs a good blocking."

I am doomed.

*No not even feltable, Pat, so don't ask.
**At least, they don't in my world. Your mileage may vary and all that.

Posted: Thursday - February 01, 2007 at 06:46 PM         | |