Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Knitter's Tale

Dear Tanya,

Quite some time ago you told Betty and me that you were pregnant with your third child. We were so excited and happy for you and, us all being knitters, we naturally decided to knit you something for your dear little bundle. After a lot of scheming (which mostly consisted of she and I showing up early to our regular lunch meetings and poring over colour cards and discussing our options), we came up with a solution. We'd make you the Circle of Friends blanket from "Last Minute Knitted Gifts." We quizzed you in secret about the nursery colours, and picked seven colours of yarn for the blanket, and set to work. Each of us was to knit strips of 7 colours each; I would do 4, Betty would do 3 and the seaming.

The code name for the project was Operation Binky. And we did so well at keeping it a secret!

Months passed. You were due in October, and we were mostly finished and a late-night knitting marathon from Betty finally saw all the strips finished. I seamed two strips together upside-down while watching TV with Kirsten one night, then fixed them. Betty seamed the rest, as I am clearly not to be trusted with such simple assembly.

That left only the matter of weaving in the ends. I had high hopes for getting it all done at Christmas because I had two weeks off, but days of sitting in my jammies until 4pm watching bad movies kind of ran together and somehow I only finished about a third of it. The author recommended leaving long tails every time yarn was changed, in order to have something with which to seam. I think there were at least 50 ends and probably closer to 100.


And let me tell you, when I finished, it was beautiful. Not a single end could be seen anywhere. But we'd chosen superwash wool for a reason - it must be machine-washable and dryable - and I knew I had to test it out. And I needed to wash it that very night, because we were going to have lunch with you the very next day. But first, I took some pictures.




That night, of course, there were terrible tornadoes all across Tennessee. I rushed to put my survival stuff in the bathroom and get ready to hide if they came near me. But before I did, I put the blanket in the washer, set it to the gentle cycle and dribbed in a bit of Eucalan. Then I got my flashlight and candles and emergency knitting and watched the weather.

Little did I know that while my apartment was safe, sound and secure, all h-e-doublehockeystick was breaking loose in the washing machine. After a while I realized the machine had stopped, and I went with some (but not much) apprehension to get it out. After all, the wool was superwash - I knew it wouldn't felt. It would look a bit stretched out from being wet, but mostly it would be even more gorgeous than when I washed it.


My heart stopped. I may have uttered a few words that wouldn't be appropriate to say around your new baby. I turned the thing over and over in my hands and counted each hole. What had done this? A mouse? The Loch Ness BinkyMonster? Most of all, if the seaming or weaving was so dang bad, why couldn't I find a single end?

At first, I have to admit, I was horrified. I didn't know WHAT to tell Betty. I sent her a frantic email with some pictures and tried not to be so stunned. Then I thought about you, and what I knew of our friendship. I knew you would laugh and laugh at this. But most of all, I knew that it was amazingly fortunate I had decided to do the washing instead of just giving it to you. Because I can't imagine your face when you took this shredded and chewed mess of wool out of the washer, a gift from your friends who had spent so much time on it. I can imagine how it would have made you laugh and cry at the same time.

I am really glad we didn't do that to you. And I'm also glad that when we told you about the minor setback, you DID laugh. You wanted us to give it to you as-is. I think you can see why we can't, but I also think, after a good drying and a little bit of sleep, that it can be fixed. I'll get right on that, but I don't know how I will tell you to wash it.



Blogger Chris said...

Yikes! What the heck happened?!

8:13 AM  
Blogger LisaBe said...

omg. you took my breath away *twice*. once when i saw the beeyootiful finished blanket (though i was a little fearful of what was to come in the story), and again when i saw what your mean washer did to it! how will you fix it? gah. the patience!

8:36 AM  
Blogger TheBunny said...

Oh, my heart stopped too. But you are right, it is totally fixable. I wonder why the machine did that? I made a circle of friend with much less predictable fiber than wool (a Lion Brand flossy microfiber) and it washed up OK. I think this was a fluke this one time and Tanya should be able to wash up as normal.

But gee, maybe I had better check with the recipient to make sure it held up under washings after being gifted.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Tanya said...

It is absolutely the single most beautiful peice of knitting I have ever seen!

I can't wait to own it. That is, if you'll ever stop being a perfectionist long enough to just give it to me. I like the "already loved" look.

And I can't thank you and Betty enough for loving me (and Baby Luke) enough to spend so much of your time and energy making it for us. I am truly touched by your gift and even more thankful for your friendship. You guys rock!

Love, your friend,

p.s. I feel so dense that you guys were scheming the whole time and I was so clueless. Way to pull it off! (Love the colors too!)

10:28 AM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

Oh, Jen. What a bummer (to say the least). I am so sorry that this has happened to your beautiful gift.

10:47 AM  
Blogger TheBunny said...

Oh, and by the way, do share the wool and color information because those colors would actually be perfect on a big size version for my bedroom. And superwash means it is kitty/greyhound friendly.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Miss T said...

OH NO!!! That was the gentle cycle???

11:02 AM  
Anonymous jessie said...

Can you tell me what kind of yarn you were using? I have a friend that had something similar happen...

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Pat said...

I've had this happen before too. I feel so bad for you. If you find out why that happened let us know so we can all fix what we did.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Chelsea said...

Ack! That's a little painful to look at. Good luck with the fixing!

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The gentle cycle did that?? The blanket was gorgeous and it will be again. It's totally fixable!

By the way, I have a similar picture of a giant pile of ends on my blog and am having a contest to guess the number.

1:29 PM  
Blogger Jo said...

Oh my - I think I would have had a heart attack!

2:22 PM  
Blogger turtlegirl76 said...

Oh my God! I think i'd die from shock!

7:25 PM  
Blogger Zonda said...

Oh no!!! Wishing you the best with the repair! Glad you are ok too!

10:05 PM  
Blogger mrspao said...

Oh no! Hope you manage to fix it ok!

12:40 AM  
Blogger KSD said...

What a wonderful story. I think, like Tanya, I'd want it "as is," too!!

8:17 AM  
Blogger Niquie said...

That so wonderful! You and Betty are such great people! Thats a great gift... and like Tanya, I wouold love it any way or shape.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Beth Leintz said...

Oh my goodness, I just found your blog, and I realize that Hurrican Binky happened a few weeks ago, but when I saw your picture, I got a knot in my stomach. It reminded me of my first purse felting project. I didn't read the instruction about putting the bag in a pillowcase and the handles got hopelessly twisted around the agitator. I had to CUT it out.

I'm off to read more of your blog and see if you tell us more about the binky.

9:17 AM  

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