Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Moss Monster Scarf and Fish Bag

Matt and Adrianne. He lovingly calls her his "hag" and she usually smacks him in the nuts with sharp-shooter accuracy. Good shot lady!

About five years ago Matt’s mother passed away. I remember it was a taxing time as Winney left this world in a harried state. Among her possessions were bags of yarn, she was an avid knitter and an incredible cook. The following week Matt buzzed my door. "I didn’t really look through this, throw it out if you can't use it". His voice was as heavy as the large crumpled paper bag that he handed to me. When I finally pulled everything out, I found bags stuffed within bags. The contents were dusty and moth-eaten — the tangled front of an acrylic sweater, three sleeves and a back from a heatherred walnut raglan, a few pieces still on their needles, and four unbroken balls of deep navy mohair in a zip-lock bag. Everything was slightly felted together and riddled with holes. As I pulled sections apart a few notes fell from the pile: “Matthew”, “Adrianne” and some scribbling that I couldn't read.

I didn’t have the heart to trash any of this. I also didn’t have the heart to keep it. It took me weeks but I ripped out, joined, and washed every moth eaten end that I could rescue. I even microwaved the wool to remedy the moth eggs. The yarn was still a bit sparse in sections so I treated it in a gelatin bath for two days. That made it soft and more durable (lab 101: ionic bonding and protein exchange). From all that wool I made Matt a monsterous moss stitch scarf. By the time I was out of wool, it was 8' long and 16” wide. From the acrylic I made Adrianne a bag shaped liked a fish, scales and all. A draw string closed the mouth. I also made her a small hairpin lace shawl from the navy colored mohair.

I dropped everything off at Freddy’s for Matt to pick up on his bar shift. Later, Matt left me a long heart-felt phone message that wasn't worthy of the unceremonious way I left them — in the same crumpled paper bag. He thanks me for the scarf every winter. Adrianne says Fish Bag gets a full work out. I’ve seen her walk from the Green Market sporting a knit fish with produce sticking out from its mouth. She wears the navy shawl often. She told me her sister threatens to steal it, so she hides it when Claudia visits from Maine. Scarves, shawls, bags — all these are very simple small things. Winney would have made them, but her time suddenly unraveled like a run down a sock. From that dusty forgotten paper bag emerged new memories.

Making the Monster

Cable Cast on 51 sts., (right side) then garter for 6 rows. Row 7: K3, *p1, k1, repeat from * until the last 4 sts.. P1, k3. Repeat row 7 for the length of 8 feet, put on some epic music (Phillip Glass, any Floyd, VU, etc.). To end in garter, pull out the last 8 rows, place back onto needle and garter for 6 rows then bind-off.

Using a drill, insert an 8” wooden dowel as a bit, attach yarn and "superwind" until it starts to fold in on itself (density of wind: 6" will equal 3"). Remove dowel with yarn from the drill. Using a strip of cardboard that's 4" wide by 6" long, pull a 4" loop of chord yarn through the first loop of the cast-on edge and place onto the cardboard strip. Pull a new loop through the next edge stitch and place on strip as before (work 10 loops at a time for quality). Remove cardboard and allow yarn to twist into chords. Repeat to end. Treat the bind-off edge in the same manner.

Sew in all ends.

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