I am starting to feel myself again but not quite ready for extended time in front of the sewing machine, unfortunately.
I replaced a zipper in a jacket for my husband over the weekend and I felt a bit off afterwards but I am not totally sure that wasn't because even the thought of spending good sewing time doing alterations, particularly zippers, makes me nauseous.
So I have been doing a lot of knitting. Knitting is a source of great conflict for me. The conflict lies in the fact I love the look of so many sweater patterns but I am so damned slow that I can't actually make them.
So far I have made one sock for my son and part of a vest for me. The sock looks better on a foot and the vest is more promising even over a nightgown with the circular needle under my armpit than it appears here.
This whole process has made me consider the differences between knitting and sewing, at least my knitting and sewing. Here goes:
I know how to sew, I don't really know how to knit. I can read "line coat" in a Burda pattern and I know what that means. "LL1" means an hour on YouTube and a distracted two more hours on Ravelry looking at all the gorgeous sweaters I could knit if I had a life expectancy of about 350 years.
Which brings me to time. I could sew an entire SWAP wardrobe, OK in knits, in the time it will take me to make this vest. Don't think I am not thinking about that. There are rumors, started by one of my sisters I believe, that crochet is faster but that must be the case for people who know how to turn at the end without it all coming out like crooked steps. And those instructions, nothing but numbers.
Which brings me to numbers. I am not so good with the numbers. I attribute this in part to doing the last part of my high school in Quebec where it was quite easy to sneak through the system with next to no math if you did enough French and arts. In fact I believe I was able to substitute drawing for geometry and an extra French literature for algebra. Seemed a smooth move at the time. Not particularly useful when you are knitting however when even accurate counting is a challenge.
You know I once had a job, that I was nearly fired from on a daily basis, as a counter. As a summer job I worked in the Hudson Bay northern stores warehouse in Montreal. The job was to unpack the goods, generally stuff that came in from China, count it to see if we had been stiffed and then send it over to be repacked and put on the ships that had to leave for up north before the ice set in. Myself and an MA in English were the counters. We would each start at one end of a pile of say baby rubbers pants or thin little pajamas that would have been totally useless in Baffin Island in the winter and count to see if the were in fact 500 pairs. We always got completely different numbers and then we would have to try again generally limp with hysterical laughter until we would decide to give up and say yes there are 500 pairs.
My knitting is like that only it matters. I can spend most of an evening seeing if in fact there are 236 stitches, not 237 or 231, between the markers. And ripping back down to the point where I was supposed to decrease one stich at the end of every ninth row, twice, and every fifth row three times, keeping in a pattern that has you knit 3 and then knit into the back of the next two stitches, twice, on alternate rows. I would write down what I actually did, three times, on even not alternate rows, on the right side, not the wrong side facing me, if it didn't make me too tired to think about it.
Does anyone have a cool cloth they can put on my forehead?
On the plus side you can get into knitting for about $20, although you won't stay there, and no one harasses you that you really need a fancy set of knitting needles that cost $10,000 so you can reproduce embroidery that looks like it might have been done on pajamas from China.
And knitting can be undone, unravelled, rolled into balls and reworked into something better, after you have had a little cry. Don't I wish I could do that with some of the beautiful fabric I have wasted on not the right pattern? Stuck it back together and tried again.
And knitting can be done anywhere at any time and turn time that might go wasting into something you can cross off the Christmas list, or even wear.
Which is a plus until I can get back at that sewing machine and then let me tell you.
- I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon