08 October 2007

Those who can, knit. Those who can’t, thrift.*

*I mean me.

Last week at my local thrift, I found my son a nice bathrobe, needed to replace the childhood Holstein-patterned robe that he's clung to at least a year too long now. This one's a workmanlike L.L.Bean number in red-and-green tartan, possibly historically correct, though I don't know its name. Anyway, like many bathrobes that wind up in the thrifts, this one had been separated from its sash. I soon found an inferior robe with sash, and contemplated separating them, but decided it would be bad thrift karma, and I don't need that.

So this week, when I found a lone, karma-free flannel sash, I picked it up, and (silently, unlike some of the other folks there) rehearsed the conversation I'd have explaining to him the mismatch. "Mixing plaids is jaunty! Lots of people do it on purpose!" Not that he'd really care. But when I got it home, and had washed it (in hot water! hot hot hot, just like I wash myself when I get back from there - I once picked up a shirt someone had just used as a handkerchief - wait, is that word a euphemism by definition? I mean to say snotrag - and then evilly thrown it back in the pile, and I think I know who it was, too. And that makes this another entry in the parenthetic blogging Olympics) and dried it and brought it up to his room to thread through the loops of tartan #1 bathrobe, and lo: they are a perfect match. It's a little miracle, because this thrift clears out its entire stock from week to week. I don't know where it goes; maybe to New Jersey, maybe to Burundi, but at the end of the week: all new stuff.

Unironed, but a he won't care about that, either.

It's been more luck like that this week, actually. I also found a wonderful vintage Catalina (my favorite brand; I adore that swandiver logo) bikini in blue, white, and pink, an old-school size 12, which is maybe a US 8 these days? Anyway, I can practically imagine fitting into it! But when I held it up against my chest - so fetching, the stripes! - it became apparent that only one of the two triangles was present. And, you know, not even an Amazon can go to the beach with only one triangle up top. At least, not in New England. The suit was good enough to cling to anyway, even as my companion mocked me ("what, are you hoping to find it at the bottom of some mound in here?!"). And I did! See? (That pink shone like a beacon.)

Look out, New England! Me and my bikini are gonna hit yer beach next summer.

There were other notable finds this week: Vintage fabric for the vintage-fabric Etsy shop I've decided to start;

A beautiful silk scarf, in colors appropriate to the season;

A little cross-stitched thingamajig for Melissa to turn into baby booties; I think she'll only do that if the piece is stained, and this one, happily, is;

A luscious vintage pullover with bell sleeves. Recognize the pattern? It's basically gull stitch, same as the February baby sweater;

and a great pile of once-horrifically-expensive designer denim for my daughter, along with a Japanese skull-emblem bootleg Clash t-shirt. I try to be a good mother, me.

So... Moth... Yes... I've arrived at the place in the pattern (that is, for those of you who are familiar with Moth, I've worked the reverse stockinette band and begun the Twin Leaf pattern) where it should really say: Novices, virgins, absolute beginners: seek advice before proceeding. Because there is a little veil drawn over the part between the end of the pattern repeat as given, and the beginning of picking up the pattern again.

And this is not to fault the designer; this is just to say, Ahhhh, I geddit. When people talk about the skills required for lace knitting, this is part of what they are talking about. They are not just talking about being able to p5tog; they are talking about being able to stay alert, take useful notes, think ahead, visualize several rows down the line, and that sort of thing. I see now. Fields Medal knitting. Shaw Prize knitting. Lace knitters: respect.

And something else I saw: This is the point at which I would normally put the knitting down, never to pick it up again. I would simply reach for something easier, until I got stuck there, too. Rinse and repeat. And that's why I have a lot of unfinished projects lying about, and why I made a commitment this month not to start anything new, but to work only on things I've already started.

Of course, I'd noticed this about myself before. But it's very good to have an extra reason to put my head down and keep going, rather than quit. Because what I observe about my life is that all too often, I stick with things that I'd be better off quit of, and I quit the things I'd do better to stick with. And that, friends, is my spiritual task as well as my knitting work for October.

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