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Big words and short rows

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Big words and short rows

My father, God rest his soul, was not a fan of big words.  Although he was a linguist and had an expansive vocabulary, he believed that communication should be clear and direct.  My maternal grandmother, however, did not.  One fidgety afternoon as the chair seat itched my sweaty little legs, I reached for a fourth golden butterscotch. “No more candy, Ellen,” Daddy said, “Sugar rots your teeth.” Grandma’s face looked like she’d bitten a lemon. “Rot is such a vulgar word,” she announced.

Laughing, he quickly rephrased, “No more candy, Ellen. Sugar has a deleterious effect on your teeth.”  I’m sure he didn’t mean for it to be a teachable moment, but it was. Everyone laughed, except Grandma.  That interaction made such an impression on me that I remembered it years later when deleterious appeared on my SAT test.  Daddy tossed around a lot of big words—never to impress, but to be clear.  Sometimes only a big word could precisely convey his meaning.  Words were a game I loved, not because I was ever going to use them--just because it was fun to know them. 

I still think clear and direct language is best, but when you need that one word, it’s handy to have it.

It’s the same with knitting.  There are lots of techniques that are unnecessarily fiddly – harder than they need to be relative to the return on your time and effort.  The tabbed cast on, my personal pet peeve, is at the top of my list.  I’m sure you can think of many others.

Short rows, on the other hand, are brilliant, the knitting equivalent of one of Daddy’s best words.  They are the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious of the knitting world.  Fiddly, sure, but so worth it. The effect is so stunningly brilliant, that it’s worth all the effort of understanding them and learning how to use them and how to hide the mechanics behind them. 

No other technique can quite duplicate the clean shaping of short rows – the gentle curve they give a shawl or curved sweater hem. The bold graphic shapes they create with Noro.  The just right fullness at the bust.  I could go on and on.  There are at least 4 ways to work a short row, and we all have our favorite.  I’m doing a series on short rows, and I hope you will tune in on YouTube, because a picture is worth a thousand words, but a video is worth 100,000 pictures. 

I had a whole lot of words – maybe even 1000 --written about short rows, but I decided that a 3-minute video is much better.  Trust me on this.  So go to  my YouTube channel, click the red subscribe button and the little bell icon so you will see the videos as soon as I put them out.  Short rows are wonderful, and it’s totally worth your time to play with them, so please come along on my short row adventure with me. 

In the meantime, let these short row sweaters and shawls inspire you to create something beautiful.

Looking forward to seeing you at our Facebook Live with Tanis Gray this Wednesday, and if you have any questions or comments you’ like me to address Tuesday at Lunchtime Live, just let me know.

I’m so glad you are part of the Crazy for Ewe community.  This is where you belong, and you are always welcome here.

~Ellen

Back to 21 July 2020 Newsletter