Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Keeping me humble

Sometimes, I really do believe that I am “all that”. I congratulate myself on being so frugal. I pat myself on the back for not rushing out and overspending during the holidays. I gloat over successfully avoiding the snack aisle at the supermarket, for staying within budget at the mall, for not rushing out to buy a new Treo just because I’ve thought about the possibility of maybe going back to work someday, or for resisting the urge to buy myself a venti mocha between Child Retrieval Expeditions out of sheer boredom and irritation.

Good job, I say to myself. Atta girl, I crow. You sure have come a long way since your spendthrift days, honey – what an amazing example of Conscientious Consumerism you are!!

Then…I visit a yarn store. Online or in person, it doesn’t matter. I lose all sense of budget when in the presence of yarn, knitting tools, and pattern books.

Here is what I needed from KnitPicks today:

1. A few packages of blocking pins, to block That Damned Shawl, which is within a mere ten hours (or so) of being finished and will require at least two hundred of the things to block.

2. Two skeins of wool: one black, and one white, for a scarf I promised I’d make a friend about six hundred years ago. Because the only black and white yarn I have in my stash turns out to be cashmere / alpaca suitable only for framing – not scarf making.

Here is what I’ve bought from KnitPicks today:

1. A ‘sampler kit’ of their Simple Stripes sock yarn.

2. And, why not, a sampler kit of their Dancing sock yarn line, too. After all (she said, beginning the strange logic that makes such spontaneous purchases “OK” in her little world), when you’re knitting socks for small children, well, shoot! I can probably get two or even three pairs of socks for them with the same amount of yarn I’d use for one pair of adult socks! So I’m saving money, because at this rate each pair of socks will cost less than two dollars, and you just can’t get Good Wool Socks™ for that kind of price, suuuuuuure, you can get the WalMart acrylic crap for less but Good Wool Socks™? No way. Those suckers can be $5, $7, even $12 a pair!!

3. A cute little book for hats, gloves, mittens and so forth. Because one can never have enough of these books, especially when one is vowing that next year, everybody one loves is going to get something handknit to express that yes – I loved them enough to spend Lord knows how many hours putting in the 34,000 stitches required to make a pair of handknit socks. (Oy.)

Which reminds me: don’t expect many posts between now and Christmas. I will be busy freaking out about whether or not my {brother, sister in law, nephews, nieces, postman} would be terribly offended and think I don’t love him/her at all if I don’t inflict a Peruvian-style head snuggler on him/her and trying to finish an entire year’s worth of knitting in the next 17 days. Ho ho ho, and pass the bandaids because I’m wearing the skin right off my fingers with all this knitting.

4. Oh yeah. The black and white yarn I need for the promised scarf. Saaaaaaaay, I kind of like this forest green, too. Maybe just, say, a skein or two of that while we’re at it, and one of the cocoa and just one more in the ‘natural’, so then I can make a Fair Isle hat, maybe even two of them!…

5. And blocking pins. 200 blocking pins, with BIG FLOWER HEADS on them so that it will be harder to miss one when picking them out, hence avoiding the Incident We Will Not Mention involving a blocking pin that ‘somehow’, ‘mysteriously’, ended up lurking in the folds of the playroom sofa.

6. Oooooooh! Check it out! A retractable, craft-sized measuring tape. I always need a measuring tape, because no matter how many I own, I can never find one when I need it. Ever. And retractable means that even if Captain Adventure does go digging through my craft bag and pulls it out, he won’t be able to hang himself with it the way he can with my regular plastic one.

The total of cost of what I actually needed: about $10.

Total final bill: $121.39


Of course, I immediately head into the Land of Rationalization. Average sock yarn, I remind myself, costs about $6-12 per ball, and you need two balls for a pair of socks, which makes this a tremendous bargain price for darned decent yarn. The socks I just finished for my husband cost me $15 for the pair, $7.50 for each ball. (The ones on the far left. Oh. My. Dog. And he wore them to his company Christmas party. That’s the kind of husband I have. With dress slacks and a BRIGHT PURPLE tie, no less – now you know why I adore him so.) So, see, what I’m getting at is, for 16 balls of sock yarn for a ‘mere’ $40 is actually saving money! It makes perfect sense! It’s logical! It’s even good monetary policy!!

On Jupiter, anyway, which is where I teach yoga, churn out endless perfect soufflés for my incessant dinner parties, and am worshipped as a Deity-Queen.

I think what truly amazes me is that I can get this yarn store effect even when I’m sitting in my kitchen. I mean, it’s one thing to walk into a physical yarn store and be overwhelmed by all the beguiling textures and the scent of wool and the warm tactile delight of the bamboo knitting needles. I can understand that.

But right now I’m sitting in my kitchen smelling my oven as it goes through the cleaning cycle. It is not a ‘sexy, buy-it-now’ kind of smell. I’m listening to my children quarreling over the doll clothes, and the drone of the dish washer.

And yet…even online…I am overwhelmed by the colors, the textures, the wild-eyed glinting of Future Projects. I think of all the people who have ever said they thought a pair of socks I’ve made were ‘cool’ or ‘interesting’ (which I intellectually know actually means, “geez, were ya completely stoned when you cast those suckers on?!”, but which somehow gets translated in my Knitter Brain as meaning, “will you please make a pair just like that for me ASAP?”)

Oh well. Napoleon had his Waterloo. Me, I’ve got wool. And knitting needles. And pattern books. And an endless supply of people I love, who need to be wrapped in handmade whatnots.

There are worse addictions out there. Now. About those stocking-stuffer mittens I was working on…


Anonymous said...

$121.39!?! That's it, I'm buying a POWER TOOL!


Very Herodotus said...


This is like the fourth time you've mentioned going back to work in this blog. Are these serious thoughts - or more like window-shopping?

And, most importantly, how will you have time to blog with a fulltime job and four kids??? I'll have to start reading the news or something.