Learning Curve

As we near the middle of February, Spring seems distant, almost impossible. How could those bare branches ever sprout green leaves again? This weekend (much like last weekend) has been gray and icy. I am lying low, enjoying doing nothing much. Last week I completed my first FO (finished object for any non-knitters out there) of 2018: the socks I cast on a few months ago in yarn I spun myself. I love these socks! They are warm and woolly! They fit perfectly.

I’ve also been knitting my Lovage sweater, round and round. I’m at that point in the body where I keep knitting and nothing seems to be happening. The pattern calls for the body to be ten inches to the armholes. I’m just about there, but I want a longer sweater. I’m going for maybe thirteen inches.

I finished spinning and plying the multicolored merino silk top. It’s a pretty yarn, muted yet full of color upon a closer look. Not sure what I’ll make with it.

This week I’ve been flicking and carding the Yellow House Cheese fleece. I’ve got a bunch of rolags ready for spinning, white and fluffy.

And I’ve been sewing leather soles onto the slippers I knit for my parents for Christmas of 2016. When I visited them last month, I wondered if these slippers were a little too, well, slippery. My mom, in particular, expressed delight at the thought of non-skid soles. So I tucked her and my dad’s slippers into my suitcase and brought them back to Cleveland with me.

I found two-piece suede slipper soles at Lavender Hill Knits on Etsy. They are exactly what I was looking for. Last weekend I sat down to sew the soles onto the knitted slippers. I thought it would be a simple and quick task, a job of a couple of hours or so.

Oh no. I quickly realized that sewing an unstretchy piece of leather onto a stretchy knitted fabric is full of unforeseen perils. I started stitching and the leather patch moved–even when I was holding it in place! Fred suggested pinning the suede in place, a suggestion which I initially shrugged off. But then, after pulling out my stitches again–and trying not to pull out my hair–I anchored the sole with three locking stitch markers. That helped. But when I tried on the slipper, I realized I had sewn the heel piece too far forward on the sole. I unstitched again.

After a couple of hours of stitching, unstitching, and restitching, I had successfully sewn on one heel piece. What I thought would be a simple job turned into a rather frustrating and slow process. I’m not sure why I thought it would be so easy. I had never sewn soles onto slippers before. It took me a while to appreciate that each time I had to unstitch, I had actually learned something useful.

Yesterday, I sewed the remaining pieces onto my mother’s slippers. Everything I learned last weekend served me well. I placed the pieces accurately, pinned them before sewing, and did not attempt more than I could successfully complete in a couple of hours. The stitching went smoothly.

It’s funny to me that I, who am a teacher after all, can be dismissive of the skill involved in something like stitching a sole onto a slipper. I assume no learning will be required, and I get annoyed when I don’t immediately succeed in doing something I’ve never done before. Now, though, I know a little more than I did about this particular task. I’d better make more slippers before I forget!

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