Friday, February 10, 2006

Training for the Olympic Knit-athalon

Unassociated Press

3:29 pm EST, Philadelphia
Filed by DK Purlman

It's all come down to this moment. There's no turning back; however, frogging and tinking are still possible scenarios. She's sitting at the "starting line," ready to cast on. "I feel good -- my hands are a little cold and stiff, but I've greased up the needles to compensate. After all it's only in the 30's today (okay, 64 degrees inside). But snow is on the way and it matters."

She casts on about 20 stitches and starts to get into her rhythm. But an early glitch: there's a knot in the yarn! The US-made Coats and Clark "TLC" worsted has a KNOT right at the beginning and that would show on the edge of the scarf. Judy tries to go on, but she loses her focus.

"What were you thinking at that moment, Judy?"

"Oh gosh -- that I would hate myself if I continue on as if nothing were wrong. It's just too long a challenge for me to carry the burden of KNOWING that there is a blemish in the very first row..."

So she pulls off the stitches, cuts the yarn beyond the knot, and starts over. Steadily. Smoothly. With deep slow breaths, she casts on again and finishes the first stage cast-on at 3:34 pm.

Asked about her strategy, Judy comments: "I feel good about my decision; the end is a long way off and I think I can make up the loss."

"Your concentration is amazing and you look really confident with your start, faulty that it was - did you swatch in preparation?"

"Oh, yeah!" this newbie knit-athlete responds. "I'm not real good about that in general. But for the Olympics, you bet I swatched. I started with a size 8 bamboo -- wow, too grabby and the scarf would have ended up too wide. I swatched a garter edge but that looked too bumpy. So I swatched again with a really old set of size 7 Boye plastic needles. Easy on the hands and really flexible. Plus, they were my Mom's needles. I know she's rooting for me and using her needles will help sustain my focus and energy. I've decided to do a crochet edge all around the scarf at the end. And the illusion part of this project is just illusion. That was much too difficult for me to handle for these Olympics. It's enough of a challenge to have designed the project and to implement fair isle technique for the first time. I can't imagine how I'd have managed if I hadn't swatched through all of these issues."

This dedicated knit-athlete has her heart and head in the right place. She, along with 4,000 other commitable, (sorry, that is "committed") needle-wielders, has taken the "Knitting Olympics Pledge" as articulated by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot:

The Knitting Olympics Athletes Pledge

I, a knitter of able hands and quick wits, to hereby swear that over the course of these Olympics I will uphold the highest standard of knitterly excellence.

I will be deft of hand and sure of pattern, I will overcome troubles of yarn overs and misplaced decreases. I will use the gifts of intelligence and persistence (as well as caffeine and chocolate) and I will execute my art to the highest form, carrying with me the hope for excellence known to every knitter.

I strive to win. To do my best, and to approach the needles with my own best effort in mind, without comparing myself to my fellow knitters, for they have challenges unique to them.

While I engage in this pursuit of excellence and my own personal, individual best, I also swear that I will continue to engage with my family in conversation, care for my pets, speak kindly with those who would ask me to do something other than knit, and above all, above every stitch thrown or picked, above every cable, every heel stitch, every change of colour, I swear this:

That I will remember that this is not the real Olympics, that I'm supposed to be having fun and that my happiness and self-worth ride not on my success....
but on my trying.


The Games Have Begun!

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