Friday, April 20, 2007

The Best Laid Schemes of Mice and (Wo)Men

I thought it was "best laid plans," but a search on a quotations site says it's "schemes."(1) Who am I to argue? In any event, this blog post is about knitted cat toys -- not Robert Burns' quotes.

Since I have a LOT of that Noro Big Kureyon 20 from My First Sweater remaining, I was thinking it would be an excellent color for a catnip mouse. I recalled seeing a catnip mouse pattern on the Wendy Knits web site, as well as in her book that I bought for myself after the Lenten Book Fast. (2) There were two patterns: one for a plain ol' garter stitch mouse, and one that had a cable in it. The Excruciatingly Easy Garter Stitch Catnip Mouse vs. The Sophisticated Cabled Catnip Mouse for the Debonair Cat-about-Town. Her words -- not mine.

I knew the garter stitch one would bore me to absolute tears, and I thought the more complicated one was worth a try because I could play around with knitting cables and not worry too much about how they looked. This would be for my cats, after all. If catnip is involved, they tend to be uncritical.

My first attempt was not pretty. The picture is in black and white because it shows the stitch pattern -- or utter lack of a stitch pattern -- better than in color. I remember reading that it was supposed to be a cable surrounded by two panels of seed stitch. Um, that ain't it. You can see some stockinette stitch in the upper right hand corner, and Lord only knows what's going on with that cable. It's been broken in two. [Yeah, yeah, I know it's a bad picture. Trust me. It doesn't show any more detail in the color versions.]

I went back to the web site to look at some of the photos other knitters had posted, and I found this one:

That is not seed stitch. That is so not seed stitch I could just spit. Looks like stockinette to me. Stockinette. Boring. Easy. No thought involved. If someone would have posted that it's two panels of stockinette (instead of two panels of seed stitch), I would have saved some time and aggravation -- not that I get very aggravated with the knitting. Much. I know I'm a beginner and that I learn from making mistakes, etc., etc. /sigh

I'm thinking that I should save my first attempt at making cables for posterity. Years from now I will look back at it and laugh. I hope. I had better be laughing.

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

(The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!)"

--Robert Burns
For some reason, I'm remembering that the first two lines of this poem appeared in one of our grade school reading books, but it was the version with the Scottish vernacular. I can't recall anything about the story, but I think a mouse was quoting. Or a cat. 'Tis a puzzlement.

(2) I give up buying books for Lent every year. I've been doing that for a while, so it's become less of a deprivation over time. This year I gave up books and yarn.


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