Saturday, January 09, 2010

Does Ability=Obligation?

The following conversation happened the week before the holiday break and occurred in the main office at my school. I was strolling through as I often do because it is a shortcut and I do love to save myself wear 'n tear when ever possible. My warranty expired a loooong time ago, after all.

As I was toddling along, Mrs. Secretary Who Sits At The Back Desk hailed me.

Mrs. Secretary Who Sits At The Back Desk: Oh, Ms. Sheep! I have a question. Is this yours? I found it in the parking lot and I know someone is looking for it.

Ms. Sheep: What is that?

MSWSATBD: (waving a piece of knitwear at in the general direction of MS) It's a mitten. And a nice one, too. Is it yours?

MS: (trying to not let disdain seep into her tone and failing utterly) Um. No. That is a store-bought mitten. I would not have a store-bought mitten. If I wanted a mitten, I would knit one. Actually, I'd knit two since one probably wouldn't do me much good.

MSWSATBD: Oh, you knit! You are so lucky. I love handknit mittens!

That conversation took less time to transpire than it did to transcribe. It was a minute, if that. I doubt that Mrs. Secretary even remembers it since all sorts of things have happened since then and most of them haven't included me at all because I'm actually not the center of the universe. However, it has caused me to think. The thoughts are the sort that have the potential to develop into dilemmas, if not full-blown issues.

Here are my thoughts in no particular order (except for when they are):

1. If only for a moment, Mrs. Secretary wanted me to knit her some mittens.

2. I want to knit her some mittens.

3. I have a basket filled with unfinished projects, all of whom sent me hate mail on New Year's Eve because they want to be finished in 2010.

4. I want to be the kind of person who wants to knit unto others.

5. I am a single person who has developed the habit of doing whatever the heck she feels like doing and that includes what goes on the needles.

6. Mrs. Secretary is wonderful and nurturing. The Cheerful Teaching Assistant calls her brand of caretaking "Tough Love." This is true but we get what we deserve and we all know it. We also appreciate it and are sad when Mrs. Secretary fails to mother us because she has to answer the phone or do other job-related activities.

7. I am currently knitting The Spite Sweater. I call it that because that's what I'm knitting it for. Spite. Pure spite. It is ugly and stupid and I don't care. I am knitting it because sweaters never work out for me and I am feeling snarky about that.

8. It should be noted that #7 is already an Issue, if not a full-on psychiatric condition. I can, right here and now, name at least five possible diagnoses that fit the symptoms. Borderline Personality Disorder comes to mind...

9. I want to want to knit mittens but do not want to knit mittens. I can't even work up the desire to think about wanting to knit mittens.

10. I am perfectly capable of knitting mittens and doing so rather quickly. I even have the yarn.

And now here I sit. I'm thinking, trying to not have Issues and still not knitting mittens. As I said, it was a quick conversation and the whole thing is almost a month in the past. Were I to not knit mittens, Mrs. Secretary would still hold me in her affections. I would still be allowed to use the office copier because I jam the one in the teacher's room every ten minutes. I would still get to keep the "good" phone in my office and she won't tell anyone I have it. When I screw up my Very Important Paperwork, I know that there is a secretary sitting at the back desk who will chastise me, but cover for me long enough so I can fix it. Nothing will change.

But I still feel like I should knit her some mittens. I am able to knit mittens. She likes mittens. I could do that one little thing. Except for the part where I haven't knit them because there are other things that are more appealing to me right now.

Mittens and my ability to knit them have taken over my thoughts. I suppose that, if I just cast on and powered through, the whole thing could be over and done with. Unless, of course, words gets out. Then I'll probably have to knit mittens for everyone and I'll never see the end of the endless mitten knitting. I'll have to quit my job to keep up and it won't be long before I'm known as "that crazy lady who lives in her car with two cats and who mumbles about mittens all day."

Now I feel like spinning because that is the furthest thing from knitting mittens I can think of. Frankly, the whole business is starting to slide out of control.

I feel an Issue coming on...



Beth said...

You could knit her a pair of mittens in one or two evenings. Then you would feel better. Wait! Drop them as a secret package on her desk then nobody will know who knit them and you won't get requests. :)

Anonymous said...

Knit her something -- she sounds like a treasure and someone who deserves an objet d'knit. But if you don't want to knit mittens, knit her a scarf or a Calorimetry or... a sweater.

::ducks and runs away::

trek said...

I ordered black alpaca blend yarn for to knit Number Guy mitts for bagpiping. I ordered this yarn last year. About this time, I'd reckon. I haven't cast on. I haven't even wound the yarn yet.

If I haven't done this for my beloved Number Guy yet, I can see where you haven't cast on for MSWSATBD.

You're right, you know: if you knit MSWSATBD mittens, she will brag on you and everyone will want a pair...

Jeanne said...

Eh, knit her the mittens. I like Beth's idea of leaving them anonymously. I like to knit for myself, too, and only just finished in time for this Christmas a scarf for my nephew-in-law that I'd started four years ago (in a momentary fit of knitting-for-others madness). I'm usually not one for KFO. But I stumbled upon two skeins of Moda Dea Frivolous in my stash the other day, and was possessed to take up the 15s and knit a very long furrily obnoxious skinny scarf--for a FRIEND. Egads. Note the date, as the Knitocalypse is upon us.

Julia G said...

Speaking as someone who has yet to finish blocking and mailing out the last of my knitted Christmas presents... I know well the feeling of being pulled like saltwater taffy between the generous impulse to knit for people and the frowning pile of UFO's. I finally resolved the whole social-awkwardnes-about-knitting-for-people thing by just deciding to knit for people because I like to when I find a fitting project, and damn the consequences. Plus, there's the fun of casting on a new project when a fit of startitis strikes! I'd bet good money MSWSATBD will be sporting some lovely mitts sometime soon!

Ruth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruth said...

Knit her the mittens! Beth is right, mittens are quick. You could come over and join us on the Ravelry NaKniMitMo board (that's "National Knit Mittens Month" -- bet you didn't know January was the Month of the Mitten!) if you crave the company of other people who have dropped everything (or at least some things) to knit mittens for the next few weeks.

Mel said...

I think the big question is which will cause a bigger Issue - knitting mittens when you don't feel like it or not knitting mittens because you don't feel like it. Maybe HM and RM should weigh in.

=Tamar said...

The answer is no, ability does not equal obligation.

I totally understand wanting to "want to." I have lots of UFOs of all kinds that I want to "want to do." Or more accurately, I want to have done them. I think the question is: will you spend more time avoiding knitting the mittens than it would take to knit them? If so, knit them, and pack them away for the next gift-giving opportunity.

Karen said...

I think you should knit her the mittens. Have you considered the Fiber Trends felted mittens? Big needles+fat yarn+washing machine=super quick, very warm mittens.

Donna Lee said...

It's kind of a karma thing. It would be a big deposit in your account.
Just sayin'.

Elaine said...

I vote for the anonymous mittens. And, deep down, despite your denials, she will know... and you will be blessed. And blessings are not to be sneezed at....

Knitting Linguist said...

Ah, yes. This is why deadline and gift knitting are so difficult. They engender Issues. Trust me, I understand this (as I sit, failing to swatch for the sweater I promised Older Daughter *ages* ago).

Mouse said...

I'm torn on the issue as well only because most of my handknitted items that I've made as gifts were seriously unappreciated. I would go through your stash and see if anything screams out "Mittens"- otherwise.. forgettaboutit.