barking up the wrong tree?

Posted on Posted in lace/shawls, projects, spinning and fiber

well . . . i’ve done it again.
in the process of being overjoyed about being almost done with the brownTrexx sox, i relegated them to my knitting bag that i take to class, figuring i will finish them in the next few days.
i know—so far, so good. except . . . then my desk looked awfully bare with no sock on it.
(here’s where the trouble begins—can’t you just feel it??)

so, ok, i start a new pair of sox. that’s not even such a big deal. but i have this nice handspun that i’ve sort-of been dying to get to

it’s brown wool from hollie’s flock which she overdyed with some green. unlike much of her wool, this is fine, soft and lofty. once it was predrafted, it was a joy to spin.
it has david’s name written all over it. so i cast on in a 2 by 2 rib yesterday and knit a few rounds while uploading files for work.

well alright, i grant you, i probably DO have enough going on without a new project (or three).

but sox—c’mon. they’re harmless, right? they wait patiently to be worked on in fits and starts, and then when they do get done, they serve a very noble and necessary function. and they wear out, so constant replenishment of the supply is a necessity. what i’m trying to say is socks don’t count.

unless of course, you are like me and you just can’t leave well enough alone.

i sat down this morning to write this post and begn to really consider these socks. this yarn has always reminded me of algae, and wendy’s post about her Pond Scum socks came to mind, except mine aren’t blue, don’t really look like pond scum, nor like her socks.

mine look more like tree bark that has a fine coating of that bright green stuff growing all over it. “but“, i said to myself, “that stuff is moss—isn’t it?? pond scum doesn’t grow on trees, does it?
(remember, i have sat down to write my post, and nary a word has been typed—see, this is what happens to me ALL the time; i start thinking, and all my time goes to hell in a hand basket. before i know it, i have visited several other tasks and completely forgotten what i started out to do.)

well, of course i then had to look up tree algae, green tree bark and do a little research. after all, the internet is right here, right (don’t worry, i’ll talk about the knitting real soon—promise).
and here’s what i found

Green alga (chlorophyte) growing on the bark of a tree, Protococcus spp. (syn. Pleurococcus spp.). Vegetative cells are undergoing division. It is often referred to as moss but it is a green alga. It is commonly found as a thin, green covering the moist, shaded side of trees, rocks, and soil. The cells are spherical and often clumped forming small masses or short filaments. The cells posses thick cell walls which protect them from water loss.

(Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.)

how about that. i bet you were thinking just now that you could NOT have gone one more day without knowing that.

the thing is—i DO think that way. i need to know stuff like that, and i am glad that i take the time to satisfy the need. i like to be informed.
the problem is, knowing it then changes the way i look at things, and often means i feel compelled to redesign, refigure, or reinvent what had started out to be a much more simple thing.

is that good or bad? if i had ignorantly continued with the sox in 2 by 2 rib, would i have forever wished they had been executed in a more bark-like pattern (which is what i’m thinking now, and which is the trouble i told you was coming)?

OR, will knitting them in said bark pattern only make them trite and overly literal. (i KNOW—they’re socks for heavens sakes—give it a rest! . . . um, i can’t rest. you might have noticed?).
would the 2 by 2 rib actually be a brilliant foil, a supreme and sublime understatement about tree scum?
oy—what to do, what to do?

i’ll tell you what—swatch for another project.
after two or three agonizing evenings with all my stitch books scattered around me, i finally completed my swatching for the Red Sweater KAL and am posting the results over there.
(if you think that sock thing was agonizing, you should see me fret over a sweater design).
all i’m saying here is that i really need to get a grip on how important finding the right cable really is.

and that’s why i knit with cashmere, and why i always have a nice comforting project like obstacles on the needles. sure it’s escapism, but who doesn’t need a little easy knitting? multiple WIPs allow me to spread out the hard stuff into manageable bits.

now, why oh why did i just put all those stitch dictionaries away, and where oh where did i see that stitch that looked JUST like tree bark?

9 thoughts on “barking up the wrong tree?

  1. I totally hear ya on having a burning need to research ostensibly useless information. One time, I absolutely *had* to know about color markings on pigeons. Why? No good reason. But the internet makes it so easy, why not just satisfy the curiosity? Sure, a tree bark stitch pattern could be a little too on the nose for those socks. But like researching the tree algae in the first place, why not just go for it? Sock knitting is definitely a time in life where its okay to give in to an urge. A whimsical sock never hurt anyone.

  2. Anne, you are too funny! Only you would agonize about the potential of turning a pair of handknit socks into some sort of political statement about tree bark and green algae 🙂 Of course, I must admit that I too have the “must know” gene and can therefore empathize with you. Your new cashmere project is looking lovely and I would like to take a moment to thank you for twisting the cashmere knife just a little deeper as I was seriously coveting the Sedona colorway 🙂 How many skeins of the DK are you using for this scarf? Just curious – I must work it into next year’s fiber budget!

  3. Ent skin. Love it! And thanks for the photo and bit of knowledge. Food for thought. The handspun is gorgeous.

    I’m fussing with vines today. Swatch-o-rama.

    Epstein’s edge books have good texture stitches, btw.

  4. I must ask your age–not that you are required to answer–but this process you describe is so much of what I’ve been doing since I retired, and I thought it was an age thing–and maybe a retirement thing because I’m not restricted as much in what I’m doing and thinking and can do a free-floating creative process. I did want to know about tree moss–thanks for the info. If you don’t exactly go for a tree bark pattern, how about a tree pattern? There are several of them that are easy to access–or oak leaves? Maybe not quite so literal–although I think of your idea as more of a visual pun. We need lots of knitting projects around to match our various moods, locations, environments.

  5. Sometimes you can overthink something. And sometimes the knitting just doesn’t agree with what you’re trying to do. That’s why I work on multiple projects. I like something mindless for that escapism. I see nothing wrong with that myself. I need the escapism sometimes and it works as a relaxing mechanism, which is just the ticket on some hard days. If I could escape into some cashmere, ahh, why not!

  6. too funny! i often find myself overthinking socks. i eventually talk myself down and say “they’re only socks!”. i use to measure everything too, to make my socks identical. now, i don’t bother. if i remember the numbers i used for the heelflap or gussett, i comply. if i can’t remember, i just knit to fit. i figure my feet aren’t the same, and it’s not so bad if my socks aren’t either.
    and the socks i’m knitting right now … i wanted to do something fancy schmancy, but the yarn is 80% mohair, so figured that any intricate stitch patterning would eventually be obliterated by the mohair fuzz-factor.
    i enjoyed seeing all the socks in the later post. i have lots of singles around here right now. though socktoberfest is coming to an end, i’m constantly knitting socks. they’re what i work on when i can’t commit to anything else. (i have A LOT of socks …. commitment issues i guess …)

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