By Brenda Clough
We haven’t discussed the most important ingredient for this project yet: the yarn. I am going to need a -ton- of yarn. Luckily, I have an inordinately large stash. Pictured here is a large cone of rather nasty white yarn. It is nylon and harsh — too harsh for use in a garment. (I was going to knit a banner out of it, but could never get the pattern to work out right.) Perfect for a squid! I don’t expect there is enough of it here, so I am going to bulk it out with additional yarn, mainly maroons and dark reds. This should get me a reasonably natural squid coloration, especially if I keep the maroon in narrow stripes on the body and wider bands on the tentacles and palps. (Tobey the cat was going to help with the yarn, but he dozed off.)
Even with the addition of odd balls of maroon, I may well run out of yarn. Twenty-four feet of feeder palp! However, if it comes to it I plan to resort to other white yarns. An animal has naturally much more color variation than you can get away with in a sweater. As you can see, I intend to just dive in and begin, without much consideration for whether I will actually have enough yarn. There are calculators and formulas you can use, to figure out how much yarn you need for things like a cardigan or a hat — a standard knitted item, in other words. You will not be surprised to hear that there are no formulas for giant squid.
Although this is a totally unique project, there are a couple cunning tricks I could use, to forecast yarn usage. I could, for instance, weigh the cone on a digital scale. Then, after I knit a foot or so of squid, I could weigh it again. The difference will equal the amount of yarn used, and (if I could subtract out the weight of the cone itself) I could calculate how many more feet of squid I could get out of the remainder of the cone. Since I don’t possess a digital scale, I might have to resort to underhanded stunts like taking the cone into the post office and weighing it on their scale. I can foresee difficulty here; let us hope the postal clerks are not feeling nervous about anthrax that day, because a person coming in with a squid is going to be … unusual. Perhaps I could tell them I am going to mail it.
Another possible trick is to measure off a length of the yarn. Let us say, a hundred yards. I would cut it off and weigh this hank of yarn. (The postal authorities will be much calmer about a hank, I am sure. Must remember to do this when I am buying stamps; a mundane transaction will soothe them.) It would be relatively easy to calculate how many hundred-yard increments remain on the cone, and then, if I start knitting with the hank, I can see how far a hundred yards will get me. You know all that math and arithmetic that they teach in school? This is the main use I get out of it!
There is a reason I’m a writer, however — I am not really gifted with numbers. Just revolving all these possibilities fills me with ennui. I know I am going to run out of yarn (24 feet — it’s a certainty). So there’s no use fretting about it or getting drawn into soul-destroying arithmetic. I will knit on in hope and confidence, as knitters are advised to do! In the meantime, I am in the market for at least one more cone of white knitting worsted-weight…
My newest novel Speak to Our Desires is out exclusively from Book View Press.
I also have stories in Book View Cafe’s two steampunk anthologies, The Shadow Conspiracy and The Shadow Conspiracy II, as well as in BVC’s many other anthologies.