Secret Mojo Dumbs It Down for You

August 23, 2006


Filed under: Knitting — secretmojo @ 1:16 am

[I’m knitting a hat for Made By Hand. And I’m an idiot. Which means you can do it too!]

After hemming and hawing over whether I really had the balls to do it, I finally drove to the craft store to acquire my weapons.

I stared at a wall of yarn from a distance, and considered reneging on my promise to Made By Hand. What the hell am I, dude in the midst of a hundred busy ladies, doing staring at a yarn wall?

Thankfully, I saw a European lady browsing for yarn at the precise moment I felt like running out of the store in terror. I knew she was a knitaholic: a cart with 6 skeins of yarn, squeezing at the merchandise, and a calm but hurried look about her.

“Excuse me, do you knit?” I asked.

She looked at me inquisitively. Maybe I was some guy who liked older European babes with a little meat on them, if you know what I mean.

Or maybe it was that “doesn’t everybody knit?” look.

Anyways, after a fascinating moment of cognitive dissonance, she was all too happy to take me by the hand (not literally, of course). In fact, after hitting her with a couple rather stupid questions regarding US vs. European needles, she took it upon herself to comfort me. She rolled her cart to the knitting needle area, puppy-dog me following, and explained the whole thing.

In Europe, they knit with the needles under their arms, which is why she preferred the sword-like length of hers. A diameter of 10.5 can refer to the US size or the millimeters. Looking at my hat pattern, she determined that I wanted “size.”

And by the way: those circular needles up there? They’re crap. She didn’t use the word “crap,” because, along with her accent, she had a civil air about her. But she might as well have said “crap,” because with a flick of her wrist, she waved off the whole hanging lot of them. “I don’t like those,” she told me, as if they gave her the heebie-jeebies.

When I, pointing at my printout, asked her what a tapestry needle was, she laughed. One of those short bursts of laughter that come without warning, and only later, with hand to the mouth, can be stifled.

Didn’t know where the funny was, but I was happy to give some to her.

I thanked her for all her advice, admitted I was “knit stupid,” and told her I did not want to waste all of her time (which of course she could spend knitting).

It was no problem, you see, because she was happy enough that a guy was trying to learn to knit (usually it’s women, she pedantically informed me). It was as if I paid for her advice by joining the cult. Sneaky, these knitters are.

She waddled off. I spent another 15 minutes touching yarn, holding one skein up to the other, reading “gauge” boxes, and so on. Finally, I decided on blueish and white for no reason whatsoever, dumped them into my basket, and headed for checkout.

But wait! To my left was this “magic” yarn. From the picture on it, and the multicolored wackiness that it was, I learned that you simply do a straight knit with it, and a pattern emerges. Neat!

Then there was Chamile [sp?] yarn, which looked like velour. And then there was—

I had to get out of here. Five more minutes and I’d be buying one of those mystery yarn skeins just to check it out. So without looking at the aisles, I made my way, head down, to checkout.


From left to right: my pattern; a library book that presumably will not only show me how to tie knots with sticks, but in fact give me inspiration to do so; a fresh pair of #10.5 plastic knitting needles, and two skeins of wavy, fuzzy yarn.


I also bought a “tapestry needle,” which, as I found out, is a sewing needle that’s puffed up from all the steroids.



  1. Please don’t stop with the “guy does knitting” theme – it’s making for good reading. I really, really want to know how casting on works for you. Pesky knots.

    Comment by charlotteotter — August 23, 2006 @ 5:40 am | Reply

  2. Good luck… this is quite a journey of discovery you’re on. For some reason I get images of the Charge of the Light Brigade and Gunga Din…. I’m sure it will turn out well.

    Comment by fencer — August 23, 2006 @ 8:55 am | Reply

  3. Mucha Suerte Mojo! I am looking forward to reading more. FYI: is a great place if you need to fill in holes.

    Comment by Mipuravida — August 23, 2006 @ 1:53 pm | Reply

  4. Good luck! I’m hoping you’ll report on your progress…

    Comment by Katie — August 23, 2006 @ 2:00 pm | Reply

  5. Ahhh — the wonder that is ‘shopping for yarn’! And a gender reveal! Coolness abounds.

    I, Anna, do hereby solemnly swear that when this amazing Fraggle hat knit by Secret Mojo is complete, I shall dedicate an ice cream cone to him, and (if he likes) send him some yarn.

    Comment by Anna — August 23, 2006 @ 2:49 pm | Reply

  6. […] In honor and celebration of the illustrious Secret Mojo achieving enlightenment deciding it is time to learn to knit, I hereby vow the following: […]

    Pingback by Knit-Write » Hear ye hear ye! — August 23, 2006 @ 3:31 pm | Reply

  7. What you need to do, Secret Mojo, is knit yourself a shopping hat with special blinder flaps at the eyes.

    Use your blinder hat when you shop for yarn. Before stepping inside of a yarn store, place the hat upon your head, making sure it fits snuggly. Open the blinder flaps (sort of like ear flaps, but situated at the eyes) and proceed into the store. After stepping inside, stop for a moment (this is crucial). DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, take another step forward until you have breathed in and out calmly no less than six times holding each breath for ten seconds. After the breating exercise, calmly survey the room until your eyes fall on a color that attracts you. Pause even here. Think to yourself, “What exactly was my mission when I set out for this store today?”

    Take a deep breath and walk forward with grim determination toward the skien that first attracted your attention. When you reach it, give it a quick squeeze followed by two rather deep robust squeezes. Note the texture of the fibers under your fingers. Continue around the store in this fashion reminding yourself each time about your mission; pray for guidance and pray even harder for common sense regarding the “B” word (budget). After you select the yarn that suits your mission, quick … ever so quickly … slap the blinder flaps over your eyes and walk blindly through the store until you reach the cash register. Do not remove the blinder flaps until you have paid in full and are safely outside the shop with your back facing the door.

    If you do not follow these instructions, I must warn you, you will soon begin to suffer from overbudgetitis and swollen stash-itis simultaneously. These ailments will hurt and burn in ways you cannot even imagine.

    Please, save yourself. I have been knitting for many, many years. I know of what I speak.


    Comment by firefly8868 — August 23, 2006 @ 4:19 pm | Reply

  8. You are the sweetest person for making this hat! I would kiss you but I don’t know where I live and that might constitute stalking. *ahem*

    Mipuravida is right. is a fabulous site with videos and everything to help with your knitting. Or just send an email to madebyhand0(at)gmail(dot)com and I’ll help. I’m just amazed at the response so far and some of that is thanks to you.

    Comment by kisknit — August 23, 2006 @ 4:38 pm | Reply

  9. Yarn is absolutely addictive. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself drawn to yarn for which you have no use.

    Also, Lion Bran Homespun is a totally fun yarn, but it can be a little hard to use for learning. Because it’s bumpy and fuzzy, it disguises your stitches (which can hide mistakes, which you actually need to see) and is really hard to frog (unravel). If you have a smooth, light-colored yarn, you might want to practice, especially casting-on, with that before you tackle the Homespun.

    Good luck on your project!

    Comment by fiberfetish — August 23, 2006 @ 6:46 pm | Reply

  10. Like, wow, guys.

    Coupla sticks and skeins, and I enter a room full of love. Completely unexpected. I should have checked here for encouragement instead of shooting all those curse words out of my mouth while casting on. Seems when you knit, you never knit alone. It’s overwhelming.

    Thanks everyone. Anna, kisnit, firefly (though I think I might get arrested with that “blinders” idea 🙂 ), Katie, Pura Vida, fiberfetish (yes, that Homespun made me stitch 2 together–yuk), fencer (Gunga “Dum” is more like it right now), charlotte.

    I will knit a row for each and every one of you. I won’t, however, give any of you my cast on row, because that would be inhumane.

    Comment by secretmojo — August 24, 2006 @ 1:22 am | Reply

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