So in 50 Shades of Grey (not that I've read it or seen it) apparently there's one of those relationships where one person is rather controlling and the other person submits. Which is really like most relationships, except that in this case the submitting person seems to be taking pleasure in it, rather than muttering "OK fine!" just to stop the argument, and doesn't wander around for the next fifteen minutes with a scowly-face, and doesn't secretly smile when their partner's preferred plan turns out to be less-than-ideal. No, apparently the submitting person actually enjoys it.
Can there be situations where giving up control can bring actual pleasure? Apparently yes. When you choose to give up control, you're actually in control, paradoxically.
I could use some of that pleasure of giving-up-but-being-in-control. Here I am (here are all of us): stuck at home, unable to dine in restaurants, attend the cinema, rehearse my upcoming musical, visit my knitting group, hug my niece or nephews, or spend my savings (ha! I meant credit cards) on trips away, I feel like I'm given up an enormous amount of control, and I hate it. If there were some way to make lemonade from lemons, I was ready for it.
But rather than giving up control to a former male model turned billionaire (they're in short supply and also unlikely to pick me), I'm trying it with dishcloths. Enter the Dishcloth Weekly Knitalong Group on ravelry.com.
Every week a particular dishcloth pattern is presented to the group, and you knit it. It's a dream come true. It's safe, it's fast, you don't have to get naked and no whips are involved (maybe a whipstitch). You can practice weird stitch patterns in the comfort of knowing they won't cover an area as vast as a XL Man's sweater. It's practically as quick as swatching. And letting someone else choose each pattern encourages you to go out of your comfort zone and try different things.
The group is organized thusly:
Week 1: a dishcloth that reflects the theme of the month (so it might say "March" for March, or have a heart for February, or an egg for April, something like that.) This April the theme was actually "extra scrubby dishcloth because we have to scrub surfaces more so than ever" or something like that.
Week 2: a dishcloth that employs a technique or stitch pattern we may not have tried before: it's the "learning" week.
Week 3: a mystery KAL (or a CAL). Weeks 1, 2, and 4 offer both a knit choice and a crochet choice, but week 3 alternates between the two hobbies.
Week 4: host choice. I have stepped up to host a Fall month later this year, giving me plenty of time to pick a pattern (or write one of my own).
Here is a dishcloth I would never otherwise have made:
It's Grandmother's Favourite with Heart by Ruth Slate, knit out of Yarnspirations Bernat Handicrafters Cotton Ombres and Prints yarn which I'd picked up at the nearby Michaels, still open during the crisis as they're big enough to allow social distancing. If you look very, very, very closely, you might notice (a) there's a stockinette heart in the middle of a garter ground, and (b) it needs blocking.
(I hadn't been blocking my dishcloths because they're dishcloths, for Pete's sake, but now that I'm supposed to knit and then post a photo on a Ravelry group site, I'm going to be blocking all the dishcloths from now on!)
That was the first dishcloth I've knit as part of the group, it was the assignment for the fourth week of March. Since then I've been knitting both backward (catching up, except for the ugly ones) and forward (like everyone else, except for the impossible ones, mentioned later), and have completed numerous future Christmas presents, including:
The March Mystery Knit-along (so no idea what the pattern might actually be called):
The Trellis Dishcloth by Susan Aguirre:
The Delightful Dishcloth by Charlotte Marjoribanks (who is apparently a real person, and not a character in Jane Austen's Sanditon):
(I'm relatively new enough that unusual construction still excites me. The square above was actually made by casting on all the stitches along the left & bottom side, and by knitting paired decreases at center it gradually got smaller until it stopped.)
Lace Hearts by Cecilia Fameli:
Sprightly by Brome Fields:
Reversible Textured Dishcloth by Sammie Carraher
And, the mystery dishcloth from the third week of January:
This is knit with short rows in wedges: essentially you cast on the radius, then you knit back and forth in rows that shrink each time, which creates a pie-piece. Then you begin again, knitting the entire radius one again, then knitting your short rows. Eventually the piece meets (mine did on the bottom right) and I did a three needle bind off to join them together.
Now, this mystery January KAL is very similar to the current dishcloth for 2nd week April—it's a smaller, non-lacy version, knit with short row wedges. You cast on 15, knit to end, turn, knit 14, knit to end, turn, knit 13, knit to end, turn, etc. Conceptually, this is not difficult. They also advise slipping the first stitch on your wrong side rows, but essentially the pattern is 2 lines: knit to where you should stop this time around, turn, and knit to edge. Repeat, getting shorter each time.
Could I accomplish this? Apparently not. I tried six times before giving up entirely:
1st try, lost count, gave up, frogged, tried again.
2nd try, lost count, gave up, frogged, tried again with a little piece of waste yarn to mark where I was supposed to knit up to on each right side.
3rd try, realised I’d been putting the waste yarn in the wrong place (I’d been putting it at the point I stopped, when I needed to mark after the slipped stitch instead), so I’d been knitting the same row a few times. Gave up, picked up stitches 1 row from the provisional cast on, ripped back to that, tried again.
4th try, started knitting, and (don’t know what I did to deserve this) suddenly my stitches were not attached to the provisional cast on’s stitches (I had done, on the 3rd try, a cast on with waste yarn that I’d then knit into, and it was here I’d ripped back to) … my stitches were just loops wound around my needle, and my cast-on was literally peeling away. So I pulled it all apart and tried again.
5th try, finished a wedge, started wedge two, and somehow developed a small section of stockinette despite knitting back-and-forth and never purling, which does not seem Even Possible. So I frogged and started again.
6th try, finished a wedge, started wedge two, and once again developed a small section of stockinette. Carried on anyway and discovered I’d somehow flopped right/wrong sides and was knitting wedge two the other way around.
So apparently the combination of this simple pattern, and me, are just cursed. To quote Sondheim, “We Do Not Belong Together.” Urgh!
But hopefully the next one and I will be a perfect fit. In the meantime, I'm all the way back to December 2019 and am knitting its suggested dishcloths—and I went to Michaels and bought 3 giant skeins of the Bernat cotton in various color combinations. (And went to knitpicks.com and bought $50 worth of the Cotlin which is so much softer and more pleasant to knit with, but it hasn't arrived yet).
Off the Needles:
On the Needles (and actively being worked on):
Royal Treatment: Little Crowns Dishcloth
Lilac Leaf Scarf Sample
Persian Dreams Blanket (round 39 of Hexagon 13)
Docking (Sweater by Martin Storey, about row 20 past the ribbing)
Bow Tie (Cloche) Beanie/ Chemo Hat (for a colleague, just beginning the ribbing)
Slouchy Entrelac Hat #2 (almost finished! on 4th rectangles)
(I've been enjoying it so much I've even started going backwards and knitting the dishcloths I've missed!)