Sunday, June 24, 2007

Another of Those Frickin' Opportunities

When we do employee performance reviews in the Big Corporation where I am employed, we identify employees’ strengths and “opportunities,” because, God knows, we wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s tender feelings by pointing out they might have “weaknesses.” The idea is that you applaud the employee’s strengths and the employee has the chance to use his “opportunity” to improve himself. What I generally tell the people I manage is that what is important in the process is (1) how you handle finding out you have an opportunity to improve, and (2) what you learn when you try to improve in that area. Let’s just say that my Higher Power gave me a performance review on my knitting today, and I have some opportunities to learn from.

But I don’t want my feelings hurt either, although right now they are. So, let’s put the whole thing into perspective.

I have been knitting away on the Ann Budd “On Your Toes” socks for about a month now, at a desultory pace. Two socks on two circular needles, magic loop style. This is a great project because:
• Working on two socks at one time means no DSSS (Dreaded Single Sock Syndrome)
• Except for the toes and heels, the pattern is totally mindless, 2X2 rib
• Although I’m an obsessive stitch counter, no need with this sock because the pattern is so obvious—any dropped stitches would stand out right away
• Because it’s toe-up, I can try it on at intervals and make sure it fits …
• And the sock cuff can be longer because I won’t run out of yarn
• Because it’s virtually foolproof (see bullets #2 and 3 above), it’s my computer and/or car project.
• Basically, so simple a caveman could do it. I can plod away on these socks and put my big brain on intricate lace projects that are more worthy of my superior intellectual capacity.

Uh, uh. Nope, not me. Or maybe I’m just not as smart as a caveman. I got all the way to the end of the socks—both of them-- and was in the home stretch to finish them off today. Was writing the blog entry in my head as I knit the last row, something on the order of “it’s good to have a mindless project because you can read blogs and balance your checkbook and never miss a stitch.” Planning my next toe-up socks (since I had so obviously mastered the genre). But as I contemplated binding off the cuff, I became concerned. I’m a cuff-down sort of a gal, and I’ve read (in those damned blogs!) that it’s sometimes difficult to get a really stretchy cuff that will be comfortable.

Time for research: two schools of thought: (1) EZimmerman sewn cuff (too lazy to look this up), and (2) bind off by K2TOG, place stitch back on left needle, K2 TOG, repeat. Cool. Number 2 sounds good to me. Bind off first cuff—piece of cake. Bind off second cuff. Here’s where I might have considered trying the socks on again—or probably before I did the second sock. Nope—I’m a Knitting Guru. Quizilla says so. Cut the yarn and hide it really well in the ribbing. Repeat for second sock. Wow! Two socks finished, ready for the photo, write the blog entry, you’re golden!

Try on sock for photo. Arggghhh! Remove sock before circulation to foot stops completely. Rub calf frantically trying to get blood flow going. Try on second sock. Repeat removal, repeat calf rubbing. Two socks, both beautifully bound off, both unwearable. Only an hour ago, they were comfortable and cozy; now, embolism-inducing.

Again, not to hurt anyone’s feelings, back to the perspective:

Good news: Two socks knit, not one

Bad news: Two socks screwed up, not one

Good news: Lots of yarn, long cuff

Bad news: Long cuff, higher on leg, up where leg is (not to put too fine a point on it) fatter. Should have more width, not less

Good news: Bind-off is very sturdy, yarn hiding exemplary

Bad news: Can’t find the damned yarn end, can’t pull it out, can’t pull out the cast-off

Good news: I do a really meticulous job of un-casting-off the cuff of Sock #1 using tweezers and a Chibi needle; 34 minutes elapsed

Bad news: I cut top of cuff of Sock #2 with scissors and unravel to an intact row; 2 minutes elapsed

Good news: 62 stitches on Sock #1 properly remounted on needles, ready to bind off

Bad news: There are supposed to be 64 stitches, you idiot—whoops, you dropped two about 3 inches down the cuff (See bullet #3 above)

Good news: Unraveling that cuff didn’t hardly take any time at all…

Bad news: Now Sock #1 is 3 inches shorter than Sock #2—you got some knitting to do, Ricky.

Every so often I’ll read a posting on the Knitlist or the Sockknitters list by someone who says, “I started knitting three months ago and now that I’ve mastered socks, I’ll be moving on to something more challenging—like designing and knitting Kevlar vests for the SWAT team while I complete the master knitters program in my spare time.” And I think, well, wow—that person really has it together. But what I know about myself is that I’ve been knitting for over 40 years and some days I still make rookie mistakes, usually caused by overconfidence or inattention to detail. It’s all about learning opportunities.


Janice in GA said...

I feel your pain. I've done things like that more often than I care to remember.

For lace stuff (which I do a LOT), I do a bind-off similar to the one you used, but I k2tog through back loops. Loosely. And I stop periodically and test the stretch of the bind off, because I block lace rather aggressively.

Jean K said...

Can you hear me laughing? I even like your one line at a time type of input. But you could also try it on if you knit top down.
See you soon.
Jean K