Present perfect

Gabrielle – a very lovely, warm and funny person who I’m lucky enough to have living near me and knitting with my occasional coffee clutch – gave me a pair of skeins of fabulous Indigo Moon sock yarn for Christmas – enough for a pair of boot socks, which she knows I prefer.
It is perfect. It is soft, durable (at least it looks that way), fine enough to make a very elegant lacy knee sock, and just a wonderful, wonderful colour. (Apparently this is partly an accident, because the shopping was done by a far distant chap dispatched to a Vancouver shop with very particular instructions that he completely ignored. Doesn’t matter. It’s perfect.)
It’s also perfect because this is one of only three knitting-related presents I’ve ever been given. My knitty friends generally seem to think I’m impossible to buy for on account of having all this fabulous stuff at my disposal, which is fair enough, and my non-knitty friends probably wouldn’t dare presume to know what I might want, which is also fair enough. But twice before now, I have been given knitty gifts.
The last time was when I left a former employer; among my assorted leaving gifts were three balls of carefully chosen yarn. The colours were gorgeous (rich sea greens – a lot like the Indigo Moon, actually – and peacock blue and chocolate brown); the fibres were soft. They were also… well… on the novelty side. Distinctly on the novelty side. One was Firefly: exquisitely pretty, if you like shiny ladder yarns. One was something furry. The other was something furry and sparkly. Altogether the kinds of yarn that would appeal to non-knitters, for sheer surprise value, and that I unfortunately have absolutely no use for. (So possibly I should be glad that they don’t buy me yarn more often.)
The first time was three years ago. I had gotten thoroughly frustrated with seeing gorgeous wooden needles in the pages of Vogue Knitting et al, and gave Armin fairly specific instructions. He dutifully delivered a pair of Lantern Moons and a pair of Turn of the Century cocobolo needles for Christmas. In due course I cast on with them. Oh yes, I said. Lovely. Very nice. What a treat.
All was fine until I cast on for another project, in a size for which I had only my old, perfectly serviceable plastic needles.
OH NO I said. I CANNOT TOLERATE this. WHY are there no UK stores selling Lantern Moon and the like to poor deprived European knitters!
And that’s how it all started…

3 thoughts on “Present perfect

  1. Once upon a time, my mother-in-law knit me a cosy jumper out of Sirdar Snowflake. It looked like the top half of a gorilla suit. It made my shoulders look ten axe-handles wide and gave me a mighty monobosom. It made me sweat horribly, while not keeping me warm at all. And then she knit me another one, out of some ghastly plastic tweedy yarn. Again, to much the same effect, except this one itched, too. Still, I wasn’t ungrateful; she put in a lot of time and effort on my behalf, and I was charmed and impressed by the concept of knitting a Whole Jumper. I remembered I did, in fact, know how to knit, and went out and bought plastic needles and plastic yarn, and made a few scarves, and thought that was knitting. Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, if they made yarn from natural fibres, and also, these needles kind of suck.
    And then I found myself in the haberdashery department at John Lewis, one afternoon, where I purchased some actual, honest-to-goodness 100% merino yarn and a pair of bamboo needles. A few scarves and hats and one issue of Vogue Knitting later, I was typing “Lantern Moon needles + UK” into Google, and there you were, just about to open doors. I ended up being one of your first five customers, and I have the pewter stitch charm to prove it.

  2. Hmm, I must say that I mostly knit with acrylics. That’s because I knit mostly for babies and toddlers, and most of the baby wool is Courtelle (which is lovely and soft, not plasticy at all) and it’s hypoallergenic and washable. I do plan to knit some big-people stuff, though, out of wool/acrylic and cotton/bamboo. If it’s for me, it will be vegetable fibre as the wool makes me itch, no matter how soft it feels to the fingers. My hyper-sensitive skin, sigh.
    Also, most of my needles are plastic and I don’t mind them too much. I don’t much like the steel needles, though, I find they make my hands sore (the coldness, maybe?).
    As for novelty yarns, I’ve learned my lesson. I am not a yarn snob, but I am as stitch snob and a whole sweater (albeit for a small child) of garter stitch made me gnaw on the ends of the needles with boredom.

  3. Hooray, Ana! That’s such a great story. I love that not only were you there at the beginning of my Purlescence journey, but I was there at the start(ish) of your knitting journey. I love you *even more* now. šŸ™‚
    Jo, I totally take your point on the acrylics (though the Yarn Harlot would point out that wrapping babies in highly flammable fabric is, well… a little scary if you think about it too long). I happen to be very sensitive to the feel of plastic yarn in the same way that maybe you are to the itch of wool. I know it’s great stuff for a lot of people, but I’m so glad to have other options. Similarly with plastic needles… nothing wrong with them. I just love, love, love my wood, and am lucky enough to have access to any size needle I could ever need in glorious hardwood. What luxury.

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