The Red Faery Sings

I now present the Red Faery, as promised (gamely modeled by my mom on the occasion of her 76th birthday):

Was it worth my struggle to the finish line?  Sewing in the sleeves on the ferry to the island?  Stitching on the buttons in the dark of the night before Mom's party?  You bet your sweet Faery Ring.

Crawling to the Finish Line

Someday (may be the last thing I ever do), I'm going to finish a project before the final possible second.  The Red Faery is not that project.  It's Friday, and I'm headed to the island for a desperately needed vacation with my family.  There's a birthday party for my mom on Sunday, and I'm going to be knitting in the car, on the ferry, and probably in the dark of night, too, in order to give her a present that actually is finished.  The irony is, of course, that I'm killing myself to finish this sweater in time for her birthday IN AUGUST, when it's much too hot for her to wear it.  But that's not what this is about, for me. 

A while back I "turned pro" as a knitter.  That is to say, I started writing about the knitting I do, and the people I know who also do it.  I made a book about it, and people started to call me things like "Designer" and "Author".  My professional status was more a result of not stopping them from doing that than it was actually having achieved some benchmark.  In lots of avocations, there are certificates, or even licenses you can earn, stick in frames, and hang on your wall.  Knitting doesn't have that kind of tangible proof, outside the actual sweaters and socks.  I'm totally okay with that, not being the sort of person who's much impressed by framed certifications.  I just roll with it, and hope that nobody asks me a question I can't find an answer to.  So far my strategy is working.  I can tell this, because I have noticed that I will probably never be able to just knit something for the heck of it again.  My knitting time has become totally devoted to people outside my immediate circle of friends and family.  I knit for yarnmakers.  I knit for book publishers.  I knit for other knitters whom I may never even meet.  And it is wonderful.  What better validation and affirmation could I ask for?  There are just these little times when I wish I could make my mom a birthday sweater without an unusual planetary alignment, or an act of Congress.  I'd like it if I could make that little doll sweater for Lindsay before she outgrows dolls.  Campbell should have two mittens, not one.  And don't even ask me what the last thing I made for Phillip was.  Can't remember.

So getting this project done for my mom is not just a triumph of will over day job.  It's proof to me that I can still make room in my priority queue for the people I love.  And that's why a box of disembodied sweater parts for mom's birthday simply would not do.  Here are the sleeves, by the way:

You may notice that they are neither seamed, nor attached to the sweater.  Still.  I'm gonna make it to the finish line.  There's like hours to go before the party.

Nice Pair

What sadistic jerk ever decided that in knitting, we have to do so many things twice?  Two feet = two socks.  Two hands = two mittens.  Two arms = two sleeves.  I swear, someday I'm going to knit an evening gown, just so I can get away with only making one shoulder.  It's a personal problem: I have the attention span of a soap bubble.  Doing something once is such a huge achievement for me that nothing short of a mandatory waiting period restores my attraction to the project.  Only after a suitable rest can I come back and finish the second sock/pant leg/earflap.  I think that attempting a pair of knitted gloves with ten whole fingers might actually kill me.

Knowing about this weakness of mine, I have learned to fake myself out.  Usually when I make a sweater, I knit a sleeve first, then the body, before starting all over on another sleeve.  The Red Faery, for some reason, did not inspire that sort of forethought.  Here I am at the bitter end, with two days left until we leave for my mom's birthday, and neither sleeve is finished.  What made me put down one halfway through and start another completely escapes me, if I even noticed it in the first place.  Attention span.  Sleeve Gremlins.  Saw something shiny. 

I'm trying to take it easy on myself.  Everybody else I know who attended Sock Summit is still in a puddle on the floor, contemplating recovery.  I would be too, but my kids have this hangup about wanting food and shelter, so I showed up for work instead.  Still, I wouldn't mind some toothpicks to prop my eyelids open with.  Sock needles are too long - I already tried.  The @#$%^ing sleeves aren't going to knit themselves in time for my mom's birthday, even though I asked them politely to. Crying and swearing also had no effect.  The sleeves just lay there, unfinished; Mocking me with their lack of caps or underarm shaping. 

And it's not that Mom wouldn't understand getting a box of disjointed sweater parts for her birthday.  I'm pretty sure she pioneered the practice of giving unfinished gifts when her five children were young.  But I only have two children (three, if you count Phillip), and it feels like wimping out for me to admit defeat before the 11th hour. 

So I need to just grow a pair.  Of Sleeves.