I said to my husband that one fascinating thing about knitting is how hard it can sometimes be to grasp very simple concepts. Then, once you've grasped them, they seem elementary.
Take knitting in the round. A friend of mine recently embarked on her first-ever sock, and said it took her a long time to figure out how to join the ends and make it work in a circle. I completely empathize. I had the same problem myself.
And I remember my confusion trying to figure out how NOT to knit in the round on a circular needle. The idea of just turning the thing around seemed, well, complicated. (I am not usually dumb. At least, I flatter myself that this is the case.)
The concept that has occupied my brain for the last few days is the crochet border.
I had an epiphany about the possibilities of the crochet border when I found myself in Sioux Falls, South Dakota the other week. Had I realized that Sioux Falls, South Dakota is the home of two wonderful yarn stores and, even more amazingly, Knitter's magazine, I might have made an effort to get there sooner. As it was, pure happenstance, serendipity, and a new friend led me straight into the Knitter's offices, where I tried not to hyperventilate as I fingered the original shawls that were photographed for this beautiful book. (It was hard to keep a tremor out of my voice as I attempted a normal conversational tone - Oh, yes, I get to talk about knitting with experts and peruse 25 gorgeous shawls every day.)
Rick, the editor, matched my offhand tone as in 15 minutes of casual conversation he dispensed more knitting wisdom than I had heard in 15 months. The greatest revelation concerned the possibilities of crochet. I confess that I had thereto had more than a trace of knitter's snobbery about crochet. Granny squares, afghans, you know (I am not alone here). Then I saw a stunning jacket spread across Rick's desk (I wish I had a picture), with exactly the border I have been dreaming of for the jacket I'm currently working on. (A jacket very like one I later found in this lovely book. Yes, I have become a paid endorsement for XRX books. Except they do not pay me. They get it on merit.)
So when I got home I decided the first thing to do would be to apply a crochet border to my all-but-done Log Cabin Blanket.
Well, I sat there for two days with various printed resources, trying to figure out how to put on a crochet border on my sample Log Cabin swatch. I got something that looked like an I-cord, but knottier; and I got something that looked kind of like a mess. My swatch looked like one of those ragged potholders children produce in third grade. Or maybe first grade.
And tonight, thanks to my third source, which had a different set of instructions on how to do the same thing, it suddenly fell into place and I crocheted a border.
(My husband was fascinated by the crochet hook. "What is that elegant little implement? And you only need one of them?")
It was just as thrilling as riding a bicycle for the first time.
I am ridiculously in love with this border. The whole thing still looks like a potholder, but it is not the border's fault. The border is a thing of excellence: firm, solid, shapely, pleasing to the touch. I hope that it may bring even the wonky stripes of my Log Cabin into line (though this Gee's Bend-like sample swatch is beyond hope).
My husband could only laugh at my absurd delight in my crocheted border. I attempted to explain to him that my mastery of the crochet border meant that I would not have to use a 40" circular needle to pick up a few hundred stitches around the edge of the Log Cabin (actually, I was thinking about an applied I-cord, but I referred to the circular for dramatic effect). This was either beyond my powers of explanation or his ability to comprehend, although I explained it two or three times, with increasing emphasis. He was, however, genuinely happy for me.