Monday, April 16, 2007
The problem with surprise knitting
I like to surprise people with knitted gifts. Nothing large like a sweater (gawd, I would have to plan two years in advance to get that done), but little pieces with a lot of thought. My sister for example, loves to get pedicures. But she also has the same nerve problems I do after her back injury/surgery and in her case needs to keep socks on her feet or suffers horrible foot cramps. What better gift for her than a pair of pedicure socks (also called peekaboo socks. Basically a sock with the toe part missing and a little strap to keep it in place)? That way after the scrubbing, descaling, and jackhammering of her footsies (tee hee!) they can slip these on before starting her polish. She can come and go in her flippity flops and no foot cramps in sight. Now, I know generally what size feet she has. And the pattern looked basic enough to have some give to it. And I am not an overly tight knitter, so that helps as well. I figured I would just choose her size range and hope for the best. Since there are no toes, there is a lot more leeway in fit, right? So I am halfway done the first one and really liking my progress so far. I have finished all my decrease and shaping rounds, and now it is just the race to the toe. Or the "un-toe" as it were. And I see these words: "Knit even until 6 cm before desired length". Ahem. What exactly is my desired length, please? Is it from the heel until where I want the sock to end? Is it 6 cm before the end of the toe? I can find charts to convert basic shoe sizes to foot lengths in centimeters or inches. But I have as of yet to find a chart that says "6 cm before desired length is x centimeters". I can't exactly go measure her foot, seeing as she knows her birthday is coming and having a knitter grab your foot and measure it is a dead give away. I can't have her daughter sneakily measure her feet either, because she has super sensitive feet and will not only demand to know why, but will most likely get belligerant about it and start a fight. And my niece is much like her mother in that she cracks under any pressure when it comes to secrets. I have gotten her to tell me secrets I didn't even know she was keeping by just looking at her ROFLMAO. So I will use my own feet as guides, knowing that her feet are shorter and wider than mine and heaving caution to the knitting winds regarding fit and such. They are pedicure socks, after all. It's not like her life and reputation will hinge on how well they fit. Right? That is the main problem with surprise knitting. Even if you have a general (or real) idea of sizes, there are always those parts of a pattern you didn't seem to see while reading it over beforehand, that require going to the person and harassing them with a measuring tape. Hard to do on ANY woman even when she knows why you are doing it. Come at a woman with a measuring tape and no explanation and you take your life in your hands. We don't even want our foot length measured, let alone that odd pocket of fat/skin/flesh between the armit and bra-band. Or the distance between the "wings" of our shoulderblades. Or the circumferance of ankles, wrists, or gawd forbid NECK. I have read the proper way to measure somebody for a sweater. I think even if a person knows what is going on and really really really wants the sweater, not many women will suffer the indignity of standing in a form fitting shirt with stickers on her nipples while another person circles them like a vulture with a tape measure (Big Girl Knits. It reads like a book and is quite a hoot). And to write those numbers down? Try to leave the room with THAT slip of paper and you will be tackled, then sat on as the evidence is eaten to keep it out of enemy hands. I once glanced at the price tag of a pair of pants a friend was trying on and tried to leave the dressing room. Thinking I looked at the size, she nearly gave me whiplash dragging me back in and swearing me to complete secrecy regarding what I saw. I had no idea what her problem was, and quite willingly promised not to tell anybody she would wear jeans marked down to $12.99. Why would I look at the size? I wear a size eighteen (minimum). Not likely I will run out of the dressing room and stop strangers in the aisles so we could snicker at her size 14 booty. (Okay. I looked. Tee hee!). I am thinking of bringing a notebook to the next family gathering, and making a general announcement. "I am going to take some measurements from each of you. There will be no judgement, just a transfer of numbers from the tape to the page. Every family member gets their own page. This book will be kept secret, used only for surprise knitted garments and in no way will the information be sold or loaned out for promotional or snarky purposes. So stand still while I measure such things as your instep, the circumerence of your thigh, and the length from the point of your elbow to that odd bone protruding from the wrist. I will measure and record the length of each finger (yes, the middle finger too. Now put that down until it is your turn), the thickness of your big toe, and the distance from the crown of your head to your eyebrow. Do not hold your breath or suck in your stomach as I measure waist and hips, unless you enjoy looking like an overstuffed sausage in a knitted casing. Because we all know, if I pay upwards of 75 bucks for yarn, a year planning and a frantic year knitting, you are wearing that sweater if it kills me. So shut up, and get in line. And don't try to keep me from measuring your hands swearing you hate gloves, or measuring your head because you hate hats, or measuring your feet because you despise slippers and socks. I don't care and I don't want to hear it. Of course, I will have to install a safe in the basement (or perhaps behind a painting, like in the movies) to store said booklet. I can picture my sisters, dressed all in black like ninjas, breaking into my house in the middle of the night trying to steal the book from me. All while my brother stands back and hums the "Mission Impossible" theme and the dog watches quietly. She will bark until she is hoarse at a leaf on the patio, but ninjas stealing a book of body measurements? Not so much. After all, she will have her own page in there for when I make her a sweater and booties.