Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hit the Showers

As a younger knitter, I ran [shuffled through] four marathons, and I can tell you that Olympic knitting has a lot in common with the most Olympic of races; viz.:

1. The training is a ball.
  • Marathon: You scamper through long training runs, then drink coffee with your running buddies and swap stories about sore I.T. bands and the pros and cons of hill training. You plan your carbo-loading and buy expensive socks. You imagine yourself, sweaty but still sleek, crossing the finish line. You're going to look smashing.
  • Olympic Knitting: You troll through every pattern you own, check a few hundred blogs to see what others are choosing, think about what's in the stash. You swatch. You imagine yourself showing up at the closing ceremonies party in your fabulous new [insert challenging project]. You're going to look smashing.

2. The event itself is also fun, but not so much.
  • Marathon: You wait in the chute with many thousands of other runners, all sleeker than you. It's a little too cold or a little too warm. You wish you'd made one more trip to the port-o-let. The gun goes off! Your pace is too fast, then too slow. You worry about your pace and wonder if you're drinking too much or not enough water. You keep an eye out for the next port-o-let.
  • Knitting: You cast on and knit the first few rows of your project. You wish you'd spent some time in training memorizing the chart symbols. You wish you'd bought one of those magnetic boards for the chart. While calculating the number of repeats you'll need to do per day, you miss a yarn-over. You miss that you missed the yarn-over. You tink a couple of rows. You resume knitting and try to figure out how much yarn you'll use up per repeat. You miss a yarn-over.

3. The event is longer than you think.
  • Marathon: You hit the halfway point (kilometre 21) and you feel wonderful. You think, This Is A Breeze. What chumps these people on the sidelines are...they should be out here running like me, like a gazelle. At kilometre 28, you realize that you are well and truly screwed. What kind of Idiot, you think, does this voluntarily? I hate myself. I hate these socks. Where's the port-o-let? You contemplate giving up and veering into the nearest doughnut joint. You keep running/shuffling.
  • Knitting: You're confident you have enough time to finish, except that you may have to pull your first all-nighter since leaving school. Your left hand is now a claw. Any man who might want to marry you will have to put the ring on your right hand. How are you going to meet a nice man if all you do is knit? You hate yourself. You contemplate chucking the project and taking up beading. You keep knitting.

4. Finishing makes up for everything.
  • Marathon: You see your sensible non-running friends near the finish line, and they shout things like Just a little farther! You look terrific! What liars your friends are. You see people who have already finished -- HOURS ago -- with their medals and their cool silver tinfoil keep-you-warm blankets. You crave a silver tinfoil blanket like you have never craved anything before. You swear to yourself that if you can just get across the line and get one of those blankets, you'll throw away your expensive socks and never again break into so much as a trot. You cross the finish line. You are sweaty but not sleek. A clean and smiling volunteer gives you a tinfoil blanket, which you wrap around your salt-encrusted shoulders. Not running is the best feeling you've ever had. Awash in endorphins, you say out loud in front of all your friends that for the next race, you'll do the damn hill training.
  • Knitting: Other knitters are finishing left, right, and centre. Their projects are beautiful, they smile on their blogs, they talk about what they'll work on next. You finally start the edging. You don't rush, because you'll miss a yarn-over and not have the strength of character to fix it. You keep a nervous eye on the last ball of yarn, which is disappearing onto the needles at a fearsome rate. Casting off takes approximately eight hours. The last stitch comes off the needles. You shake out your claw and look at the remaining few yards of yarn. Your project sits in your lap. You think to yourself, next time I knit [insert impressive project], I'll try it in a solid colour...maybe a really deep green.

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