Saturday, January 17, 2015

If a Shark Stops Swimming

With Christmas behind us, the number of visitors to Whitaker Knits' shop at has fallen off a large cliff into a deep, deep abyss. It was expected.  Orders will trickle in until the weather warms, and then Whitaker Knits will be essentially dead until cold weather arrives again and with it, the gift-giving hordes.

Until then, what's a knitter to do?

Whitaker Knits has taken to knitting up all the yarn currently falling out of numerous tote bags in our daughters' former bedroom. Most finished projects go to the garage to be distributed later to anyone who asks for something hand-knitted. Some projects are given to charitable organizations that will take them.

A few lucky projects, or unlucky projects depending on their perspectives, remain with me. Like this hat I made for myself because I liked the color of the yarn.

This afghan for the back of the couch helped me use up a lot of leftover yarn, but it's shorter than I'd hoped. That's one of the hazards of knitting with remnants; you can never accurately gauge when the remnant will run out.

Then there is this project which has been a goal for nearly 20 years.

This intricately-patterned sweater, when complete, will be my magnum opus. This pattern is from a knitting magazine I purchased in 1987. I wanted to knit the sweater then, but the pattern is rather daunting. Every few years I would look at the magazine and think about making the sweater only to become intimidated and put the magazine away.

I finally began knitting the sweater about three years ago. To make it fit using the yarn I've chosen, I have to use very fine needles, size 2, which make my hands cramp after a few hours. The chart showing which color each stitch must be is small and difficult to follow. Counting is a  must on every row -- this many yellow, this many black, this many white, this many black, this many white, this many yellow, this many black, this many white -- and becomes mentally draining. I haven't yet reached the beginning of the 1980s-style dolman sleeves. I've waited so long to complete the pattern that dolman sleeves have come back into style. Perhaps I can complete the sweater before the style again makes one a fashion pariah.

It's disappointing to those of us of knit by hand that there is so little demand for the things that we ardently enjoy making, but such is life. We can't force our products on the consumer. Trade is about providing something that people want in exchange for something we want. So we live in reality, sell what we can, and continue to knit.

I've been told that if a shark stops swimming it will die.

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