I first caught the want-to-knit bug in 2002. By the winter after we graduated from college, my friend Phoebe was an expert; she could make beautiful sweaters, scarves, and shawls from her own designs, in glorious riots of color and texture.
I tried to learn from books and several different people – but was repeatedly unsuccessful and unhappy. Then, in 2009, one of the women in my knitting circle suggested that I try continental knitting (backwards from most Americans but natural for a crocheter). C offered to teach me how, and an obsession began. I selected my first project, bought yarn and needles, and got to work.
That first project idea was a replica of the first scarf that Tom Baker wore in season twelve of the original Doctor Who series. It’s a simple garter stitch scarf with color change stripes on straight needles – a standard beginner assignment that requires knowledge of casting on, the knit stitch, slipping knitwise, joining a new yarn, and binding off. And like most beginner knitters, my first stitches were significantly less than perfect.
You can see that the long tail cast on and first rows are way too tight at the edges — the lower corners of the first photo, above, aren’t curled, nor are they shaped with short rows!
Over time, though, I improved. I switched to a circular needle so the weight of the project sat in my lap instead of hanging on my wrists. I learned to compensate for the slight differences in the yarn textures and weights — Lion Brand wool-ease, organic wool, and cashmere blend each need a slightly different tension in order to behave with one another. But a third of the way in, my gauge relaxed and my stitches became plump and squishy.
And then… well, then I got bored. 1,044 rows of straight garter stitch feels interminable. I found every excuse imaginable not to work on this project. I knit hats. And mittens. And a sweater. And more hats. And avoided this poor project as if it carried the plague
And then Michael, the bouncy, excited recipient of this incredibly long scarf, came to visit. He was terribly excited to feel the different textures, and model the partially completed item (with the needles hanging from one end). And I pledged that before the 2012 London Olympic Games ended, the scarf would be finished.
I made it. On Sunday, July 29th, I bound off the final row of plum colored yarn, and then attached 132 pieces of fringe. And after being suspended from curtain rods for the last three weeks to stretch and lengthen, I rolled up the scarf and prepared it for the journey to Seattle, where it should arrive sometime in the middle of September.
Last Sunday, I found myself outside The Dakota on West 72nd Street, wondering if the Tardis had clothed herself in a slightly different guise. Could the Doctor be lurking nearby?