Yesterday, I met up with several lovely people I hadn't seen for a while, first over a sunny lunch in Cambridge, and then at a belated birthday party in London. Throughout both events, and on the train in between them, I worked on this:
Actually, I took this photo a while ago, and unfortunately it's likely to be the last one for a little while, as I foolishly left my camera at home last time I was there. Anyway, this unpromising-looking purple lump is a whole lot further along towards becoming this - I'm doing the smocking at the yoke now. And yes, it's another Ysolda pattern. I just can't seem to get enough of her designs at the moment.
I was thinking about how much my knitting time has increased of late, perhaps since those couple of months I spent researching in Italy when it was my sole companion. Gradually it appears to have infiltrated more and more parts of my life. This time last year, I don't think it would have even occurred to me to take my knitting on a plane, to a party, to lunch. Occasionally, I'd hear tell of people knitting at the table but I had no idea that I myself was on a slippery slope to becoming that obsessed. In fact, I chose this pattern in part because the body and the sleeves are fairly mindless stocking stitch, and so easy to do while talking to people, or travelling. I plan always to have a simple project like this on my needles, so I can do all of these things without having to hunch over my work, worrying about committing heinous errors - 'I can't talk! I'm counting!'. I find I can get an awful lot done in these little pockets of time over a cup of tea, waiting for someone to turn up, on public transport... Now I hate being caught out without my knitting during these periods; my fingers itch to be busy. I've been listening to No Idle Hands: A Social History of American Knitting by Anne Macdonald, a book filled with interesting snippets about knitters from the past, and there's a description of one lady who only stopped knitting once a week, to go to church, and who said it was all she could do to sit and not do anything for that long. It makes me a bit sad to think of all the time I wasted before I learned - just think of all the things I could have made by now...
My occupation drew a mixture of responses. It elicited the remark that forms the title of this post. I think some people were bemused, while some seemed rather impressed. One party-goer kept trying to ply me with drink, and I kept telling him that I was sorry, but I was doing smocking, a delicate operation not compatible with alcohol. Lots of people asked me to knit something for them; I stuck to my current selfish principles. I was asked quite a lot how long it had taken me to knit this much, which I found a little tricky to answer. I know when I started it (about a month ago), but I've been working with it very infrequently, and have nearly completed something else in the meantime. Whereas normally I am eager to finish things, with this I was worried about running out of travel knitting. Now that the end is so close, however, I am quite keen for it to be done. I love seamless constructions, and the fact that when I cast off the final stitch I will be holding a recognisable cardigan as opposed to a cluster of dismembered pieces waiting to be sewn together.