Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Competitive streak

Yesterday I was over at my parents' place, helping my mum with some stuff.

One of my cousins is finishing junior high this year, and will be starting high school in the fall, and because she's been in an arts-intensive school for several years now, the transition is even more jarring than usual - her school doesn't feed into a specific high school, so it's not the case that all of her current friends will be at her new school in the fall. My mum wanted to get her a small token graduation gift, and was looking for ideas. I suggested that she could knit a slouchy hat for my cousin. Mum liked this idea.

So yesterday I went over there, logged into Ravelry, and showed her a few patterns I'd tagged thinking they'd be appropriate, and she picked one, and I printed it and then we packed into my car and headed to a nearby yarn shop. There, we went through all the yarn that was out on display, looking for just the right thing, and Mum ended up walking out with a ball of Berocco Remix in a tweedy sage green colour and a needle gauge. Mum had wanted to buy some simple stitch markers while we were there, but they were out of stock (WTF?), but I had figured she might need to borrow some and had put some into my bag of tricks before leaving my place that morning, so she just borrowed some of mine.

I took her on some other errands too, so it was a couple of hours later that we were back at the house, everything that needed to be had been squared away, and then Mum said to me, Let's knit, and we hunkered down in the living room to do just that.

I had brought a few different things along with me, but settled in on working on the wrap for my sister instead of starting something new. Mum fetched up some needles, stared at the pattern for a bit, and fussed with the yarn and needles for a bit checking her gauge - she didn't knit a swatch, but cast on what should have been 4" worth of stitches and then I think she knit a row or two and then measured. I'm not really a swatcher, in that I don't knit a swatch, measure, wash, block, and re-measure, but I do believe in checking gauge in an area of fabric that is not right on an edge, so watching her do this gave me a weird little gut-twist of anxiety, but I didn't say anything. She's been knitting longer than I have, and if she's found that that works for her, then it works for her. Nuff said.

Then she cast on and was off and running. And I noticed something.

She seemed to go really fast. Much faster than I remembered. I stopped and watched her for a bit - subtle, no? - and determined that part of my perception of speed was coming from the fact that she was working 1x1 ribbing - what had initially looked like her forming two stitches was actually one followed by the flip of the working yarn to the other side of the work for the next stitch.

But even then, fabric formed quickly. I think she was actually knitting for about an hour and a half, and she pretty much got all the ribbing done - she did her increase row, and then did the set-up for the main cable pattern of the hat.

And that got me wondering. How long would it take me to get to that same place? I know I'm not super fast, but do I go as quickly as she seemed to?

An idea sparked in my mind. I should knit that hat too. After all, it's one that I thought I'd like to add to my collection - you know, my collection of one that I actually like. I have some worsted weight yarn kicking around waiting to be made into a hat. I'll time myself and see if I can get the ribbing done in the same amount of time that I watched my mum do it.

I'll have a little knitty race with my mother. Without telling her.

I held off casting on to satisfy that urge yesterday. But I may not be able to hold off much longer.

After all. I do want that hat anyway.

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