February 14, 2013

Feeling Blue on Valentine's Day?

Valentine's Day brings up a myriad of emotions. Me? I'm not really a big fan. I think I'm still a little scarred by a former job.

Years ago, I worked as a temp at a local flower store for the Valentine's Day rush.

Now, before you get all excited with images of quaint flower stalls crammed between meat and veg vendors in open air markets in Europe, or even your local florist with the fresh, wrapped roses you may have already bought for you sweetheart, let me first tell you the honest truth. 

I never even TOUCHED a flower there. 

Eight hours on my feet daily, surrounded by roses, carnations, baby's breath, Hershey Kisses and teddy bears -- I got to spend the majority of that temp job stapling cellophane.  

Cellophane. Cello-PAIN. 

I hate cellophane. It's the first thing I rip off of flowers when I buy them. And it is usually the first thing most people rip off before they place their flowers in a vase, but the cellophane's job was to keep the flowers neat, clean and alive, apparently. My mundane job on the other hand, was to fold and staple countless sheets, so that someone else could actually wrap the arrangements. 

I didn't get any flowers from the Sailor that year. He was halfway around the world, and I told him not to bother. I saw enough flowers in that 'factory', even if they weren't mine to keep. 

This year, thankfully, I didn't spend the week leading up to Valentine's Day at the florist. (Nor did I make use of any cellophane, whatsoever... although I did battle with some plastic wrap this afternoon when I covered the potato salad.

I did however get fairly far knitting my blue cardi.

Then, as I started to weave in the ends, I noticed that the ones in the back didn't look so neat. The sloppy weaving was right in the middle of the back, where I had joined a new ball of yarn. 

I never join a new ball of yarn right in the middle of a sweater. But because I added some length to this sweater, and since I neglected to buy an 'extra' ball of yarn, I was so afraid of running out of the blue, that I joined a new ball in the middle. 

The thing is... I never really joined it. I always put a double knot where I join my knitting. Some people say this is the worst thing to do -- if you're not careful, it leaves a lump right where you weave in the ends. This time, because I couldn't hide the lump (small as it may have been...) in the seam or at the side, I decided not to knot the balls the together. I just left a few inches and weaved the ends in. 

Then when I saw the sloppiness of my weaving, I pulled one out. And somehow (I'm guessing because I didn't tie a knot in there!) I managed to put a hole in my knitting.

 I gasped. Then I stared at the hole for a while. 

 Then I decided to make an even bigger hole, in my attempt to fix the damage. It you're going to mess something up, you may as well go whole hog, right?

(Ironic, isn't it, that my knitting needles have formed a frown?)

I made an effort to graft the stitches together, but in the end, it didn't look very nice. Plus, I had the mess at the back to contend with. The Sailor took one look at it and suggested I start over completely. I resisted the urge to take the long circular needle to his neck... and decided he was right. 

So I ripped out the knitting. And ripped. Then ripped some more. The whole monotonous ripping and winding reminded me of that temp job stapling cellophane. But before I knew it, the sleeveless portion of my cardigan was back into balls. 

By now perhaps you're wondering why I ripped the WHOLE thing out?? Well, because I had already sewn the button band on (not pictured in the above 'vest' photo), I had to rip that out too. And in my carelessness, I started to rip out the bottom of the cardigan by mistake. So I figured that I may as well rip the whole thing out while I'm at it. 

I was so frustrated by the whole thing, that I was ready to throw the yarn into the trash. I felt like the color of the yarn. The Sailor reminded me that we learn by our mistakes. He's right. And sometimes things look pretty ugly before they become beautiful. 

I decided to take my mess and try out the yarn ball winder my mother-in-law just gave me. I love that she taught me to knit and she's passing along to me a vintage item that she herself used for years. 

I enlisted the Sailor's help to wind the balls. (I know they're in balls above... but this yarn winder makes them into center-pull balls, which is infinitely better. It also means the yarn isn't rolling around in dog hair on the floor while I knit.)

I explained to him how the ball winder works, and he just looked at me while he calmly reminded me that he helped his mother wind numerous hanks of yarn when he was a kid. 

By about the fourth ball, I realized that cellophane or not, I didn't need any flowers from the Sailor on Valentine's Day (I get plenty during the rest of the year...) 

Hanging out with him for the day was enough. Having him believe I could create the cardi over again was even better. Helping me wind the balls of yarn was just an added bonus. 


  1. A yarn winder! Well, I never. Brilliant. But I just can't knit... you have my full admiration. Love hearing your yarns Brenda, ;) g

    1. It IS brilliant! It's already saved me numerous headaches ;) You could totally learn to knit... don't give up!