18 March 2014

Pinch Hitter

Boston Marathon Scarf Project Double Knit Scarf

I had about 19 hours invested in my Marathon Scarf Project when Luck of the Frog fell upon it. Yes, I'm a slow knitter, and I'm an even slower double knitter because I'm still a beginner, but actual knitting time may not have equaled charting time. Nevertheless, to unravel the equivalent of nearly half a work week's knitting felt like losing half a paycheck. Yet it also felt just a bit empowering...

I really enjoyed the project. Truly. But I am still a beginner, and I was under the gun to get the scarf done in time to mail it to Boston. I worked on the scarf aboard the train, and passengers would admire my work and get me started talking. When I'm crocheting, I can keep going mindlessly while I talk. Or perhaps I talk mindlessly while my mind is focused on my hook. Who knows?

The incredibly geometric chart I was attempting to work from memory because it takes too much time to dig the taped-together scarf-sized graph paper out of my bag, find the current point of needles and then put the chart neatly back in the bag without ripping it proved to be my undoing. Or, well, the scarf's undoing.

First I discovered a mistake about nine rows back. I attempted to fix it with a crochet hook by dropping the entire line of stitches above the booboo. That didn't work, so I inserted a life line, pulled the needles out, carefully reinserted them, then reknitted the nine rows.

Only to find I'd made another mistake two rows back. This time, I was able to correct the mistake with the crochet hook and without unraveling.


During the next intersection of many blue lines the next day, I found I that same mistake I'd previously unraveled repeated all over again in the newly knit section. I'd broken a blue line again. But this time, only on the yellow side. Apparently, my concentration isn't what it should be when I'm alternating blue and yellow, blue and yellow, blue and yellow... I had three yellows in a row, and that should NEVER happen in a double knit project unless I'm using two strands of yellow yarn, which I wasn't.

Because the mistake was only on one side, I was able to fix it with the crochet hook once again. But in so doing, I made another mistake reknitting with the crochet hook, and I had to undo that line of stitches AGAIN. A degree of discouragement was settling in; this project was no longer as fun as it should be. I was spending as much time fixing mistakes as I was spending knitting. I knew there was no way I'd have this scarf done before the actual marathon, much less before the mailing deadline, if I didn't pay a little closer attention to my stitching.

The next day, entering the next web of yellow diagonal lines across the blue side, I noticed I broke another line. I'd made another mistake. Once again, three consecutive blues. Ouch!

This one was nine rows back again. Ouch again. I spent nearly half an hour fixing the booboo on both sides; I hadn't noticed it on the yellow side until I had to pull out that crochet hook again. As I was fixing my mistake, this time in the lunch room at work, co-workers kept approaching to find out what I was doing, why I was doing it and how much longer I had to get the scarf in the mail. About ten days, give or take.

One of my co-workers noticed the Swedish colors before she noticed anything else. She's of Swedish descent. "Oh, you're making the Swedish flag!" she cooed. Not quite, but I was delighted I had the colors right!

Another of my co-workers pointed out something I had not noticed. "Oh, you're making a scarf in my college colors!" he admired. Now this was awesome! He attended Fort Lewis in Durango, where we have ridden the Fall Blaze to support the collegiate cycling team several years. Not only was I making a Swedish Olympic team scarf, a Boston Marathon scarf and a Boy Scout scarf (Hey, those colors are hard to ignore because I washed my son's uniform many, many times to get it back to blue and gold after a campout!), I was creating a Skyhawk scarf, too! Way cool!

Skyhawk Colors

However, I did promise our Skyhawk oft hiking companion I would rip out the entire project if I found one more mistake because I could whip up a crocheted scarf in the same yarn in a day or two and have it in the mail in time for a Boston Marathon runner to receive it.

"Don't worry," the Skyhawk consoled. "If you don't get the scarf done the way you like this time, I know you'll do it again another time, just perfect, and maybe even in colors you dyed yourself."

Ooooh, now there's a novel idea...

But it did not prompt the rip. Instead, the next mistake, discovered during my train commute that very night, this time, not a broken line but an unwelcome line that came in out of nowhere and then disappeared just as mysteriously, would have meant ripping back another nine rows. I knew now there was no way I could finish this scarf on time. My heart ached. And yet, I was angry!

Angry enough to start frogging.

I finished frogging in the dark car after The Lizard picked me up from the train depot. He was as relieved as me, but not because frogging provided a great emotional vent for him like it did for me. Instead, he wanted me to take a breather from trying to get this year's garden ready, get a snowflake done every week, get a quilt done by the end of the month, get this scarf done by the end of the month...

"I think you put too much pressure on yourself all the time," The Lizard advised. And that's one of the plethora of reasons I love him.

In the car, I wound the unraveled project into a hasty dual-strand ball of bicolor yarn, which I then had to unwind and simultaneously untangle so I could begin my next project.

What a mess!!!

Believe me, there were times when I wanted to just cut the yarn and throw away the barf! But I wasn't sure I would have enough yarn left for a full project if followed through, and I did NOT want to have to buy more. I didn't want to take time to go to any store to match the existing stash colors. I've already invested too much in this scarf without spending a dime!!!


Ready to Go

The next morning, I began an impromptu and patternless scarf aboard the train and had it half done before I got downtown. I finished it in the break room at lunch. The blue and yellow yarn leftovers were all I had to work on aboard the train that night on my way home. So I made a cowl to send along with the scarf.

Both are in the mail now. Each may be wrapped around a runner next month. I feel as if I've crossed my own finish line. I want to pump my sweaty fists in the air and get sprayed with a fine mist of cooling water as a medal is draped around my neck.

But not until the weather warms up a bit.

Pinch Hitter Scarf

All-Chained Up Cowl


  1. Just keep the sweaty fists to yourself lol quite the journey indeed, I wouldn't notice a mistake at all, as you caught them at your hall.

  2. Wow, your presentation in your last photos is just tremendously beautiful!

  3. Sometimes a project just isn't meant to be....

    But you turned yours into two beautiful and useful things! If at first you don't succeed, try crocheting instead. :)


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