Thursday, December 07, 2006

Knitting and Cats… and Sock Tips

I don’t have a cat. I had one when I was a child, and I found that I have no particular liking for cats. The cat I had then was a Persian, and its greatest accomplishment was shedding long, white hairs into my tomato soup. A handful of cat hair in my tomato soup was enough to convince me, for infinity, that I am not a cat person.

Other people’s cats adore me. If an animal, I don’t care what it is, it could be a lemur or a ferret, or a snake (but not anything buglike, such as a friendly tarantula) presents itself to me as benign and in need of scratches in some non-sexual part of its anatomy, I generally will oblige. I don’t mind. It keeps my hands busy. Other people’s cats (OPCs) love me. Perhaps they can smell the non-cat-person-ness of me and are on a feline crusade to convert me. They wind around my legs. They roll in my lap. They sleep on my neck. They follow me into the bathroom and observe my assorted procedures. They can’t get enough of me.

I have made mean jokes about cats over the years, possibly as a method of fitting in with other not-cat people. I don’t actually hate or loathe cats; they’re like squirrels – cute elsewhere but not in my house. My husband and two of my children are allergic to cats, so that has made the decision to live cat-less pretty easy.

It would appear, though, from a generally lackadaisical perusal of blogs and knitting lists, that I am the only person in the known universe who possesses yarn and no cats. I like stories about good knitting experiences, bad knitting experiences, needles people like, yarns to avoid, new techniques, old techniques that someone is really enjoying, good projects, projects from hell, pretty much the full range of crap that can be written about knitting. I am, however, sick to death of cats and knitting.

I try not to bore the snot out of people with stories about my Labrador. He’s cute, we love him, he could get more exercise, and he’s spoiled rotten. So’s my bird, and he talks and editorializes and helps parent my children. But, frankly, endless cat blogs give me a tic in my eye. When the occasional knitting post graces a blog that is 99% cat, it does not make it a knitting blog, it just irks me.

One of the reasons I quit the Knitlist years ago was the ceaseless parade of “my cute cat and some yarn” stories. I could not conceivably care less. I think there should be a completely separate list for cat/yarn posts and anyone who violates it should have to forfeit their favorite pair of needles for a year. And before a cat-adorer thinks it’s a horrible thing to be prejudiced against cats and PETA should storm my house and force cats upon me so that I can see the error of my ways, I should probably admit that part of my aggravation has to do with the kitschiness of cats+yarn. It’s like the “only grannies knit” thing, or all Grandmas smell of oatmeal cookies (or ammonia or lilacs or bad shampoo), or whatever trite imagery you can come up with. There’s just nothing… original about it, and possibly that annoys me more than the cat aspect of it.

But then, I’m kind of a jerk about some stuff, and I admit it. I will often leave the room rather than let anyone see my eyeballs rolling about stuff because I know it’s rude and it’s my problem, and they’re entitled to their enjoyment of cats+knitting, or “knitty gritty weird crap” knitting (oh, and you just spent HOW many hours knitting something that no one will ever use and which is not only unwashable but generally unpleasant looking and kind of crappily textured?), or letting myself get drawn into an argument on the merits of various yarns and fibers. I’ve got better stuff to do than engage in either being a twit or a target.

So, then, you wisely ask yourself, why the hell are you snarking off about cats?

Er, because I am bummed that one of my former favorite knitting blogs has spent the last month publishing cat pictures, and I feel neglected and cranky. Mope, mope, mope.

So, back in the saddle for me. A new, experienced knitter has joined my Chix group, and she had some great tips on sock making, which I’ll share with you:

1. If you tend toward large ankles, or just don’t like tight ribbing, use one or two sizes larger needles on your ribbing.

2. Make the foot width and length 10% smaller for a better fit (tighter, less likely to flop in the toe or slip around your foot).

3. This necessitates making your gusseting area greater than is usually listed in the pattern. For example, if you would normally pick up 20 stitches on either side and leave 28 across the instep, you might put 2 instep stitches on each side needle (instep now 24) and decrease those, too, in order to get down to the slightly smaller measurement for the foot.

4. I’ve tried these tips on two pairs of socks for myself and an very, very happy with the results.

I’ll have an original pattern later this month, and I promise to try very hard to get off the snark wagon.


Anonymous said...

I feel exactly the same about cats, even though I was raised with cats of several sorts, for the same reasons. Unfortunately, I will be spending Christmas with my husband's family in a house where the computer is covered with cat hairs. I despair.

Makeuprtista said...

rqhwnAmen, fellow lamenter of cats+knitting. I am sad about the lack of actual knitting content in my favorite blogger's posts. I don't think cats are cute, generally, and I don't care what other people suppose their cats are "thinking" in random photographs. Let's hear about your current project or some new yarn you've tried, not about how your cat wants to take over the world! Thanks for the sock tips, too. I may have to try some of your suggestions on my next pair.