I think the de-working is working. I’ve stopped checking my blackberry, and I think it may have run out of juice; the house looks much as it always does (occasionally tidy and mostly marauded by toddlers); I’ve not yet got to the obsessive cleaning out of my car, or felt a pressing need to pre-cook lots of meals for the freezer (which would be a largely futile exercise at the moment seeing as it’s full to the brim with ice lollies), and my hospital bag remains precisely that; a bag.
But all this isn’t to say that I haven’t been preparing for the arrival of tiny sir or madam, at least in my own way. I’ve had two blissful days this week where I spent the afternoon sat in my nice comfy armchair, with my feet up on a footstool, iced freezer blocks balanced on the very top of the bump and between my knees for optimum cooling while I knit away and watched a whole heap of sessions from the Blogtacular Virtual Conference on the iPad (all wonderful) and The Great Gatsby (fabulous sets and costumes but somehow slightly lacking the punch of the book). And the result, aside from more than once questioning just why I think an August baby is going to need a nice warm Shetland blanket, was that I finished the centre panel.
And that means it’s time to steek.
Readers of a nervous disposition, who fear the interaction of scissors and knitting, or perhaps had a similar childhood experience to my grandmother, who once carefully pinned and cut out the pattern pieces for the latest couture garment for her dolly, only discovering that she’s cut them out of both the chosen fabric and her best Sunday dress after the deed was done, should scroll hurriedly through averting their gaze.
Because the traditional way, and the easiest way, to make a fairisle blanket is to knit the whole thing as a giant tube. It means you knit every stitch which for most people is faster than purling (has anyone ever come across anyone who can purl faster than they knit?), and I find that working with one colour in each hand I’m if not quite as fast as knitting with just one ball of wool at a time, certainly not that much slower, and much much faster than if I were trying to purl with different colours, not tangle myself up, and keep an accurate track of the pattern.
When you reach the end of the row you work a little band of alternating stitches (that would be the steek) until you’ve reached the top of the blanket, and then it’s time for those scissors.
Straight up the middle of the steek, and what was once a long tall tube of knitting, suddenly becomes a blanket, albeit one with fluffy edges.
And with that there’s no undoing, no going back. If there are any mistakes in the pattern they’re going to stay mistakes now. It’s time to move on to the border; just 900 or so stitches in a round, and then if there’s any yarn left I’ll work little facings to tidy up and tuck in the cut edges so we’ve still got some way to go before it’s finished. But if memory and the internet serves me right I didn’t finish Elma’s blanket until the day before her due date so I’m still ahead (I’m not counting the fact that Kitty’s was finished at least two months before she arrived – I’m clocking that one up to new parent excitement and a lot more knitting time!).
For some reason that I can’t quite fathom it has really mattered to me that the blankets are finished before the babies. I find I want that far more right now than I crave a perfectly organised nursery, or precision folded muslins and nappies. And if there’s one thing I know about having children it’s that you never argue with the inner rationale of a heavily pregnant girl who can only tell that her toes have turned into tiny sausages by how they feel, not because she can actually see them; and so I’m going to go and sit in my comfy chair, pack myself around with ice blocks again, and knit. And occasionally purl.