I don’t have stage fright when I get up to lecture in front of 150 students … or to give a graduation address in front of 300 graduates and their families … or to preach in front of 60 congregants. But I got butterflies in my stomach on Saturday when I went to Dish Rag Tag Central and saw this:
That all-caps shouting certainly projects an air of calm, doesn’t it? Certainly nothing to suggest that hysteria is the appropriate response.
In this nutty relay race, twenty U.S. teams of ten knitters apiece are sending increasingly ragged Priority Mail boxes from house to house. When a team member gets the box, it contains a dishcloth knitted by the previous team member, two balls of dishcloth cotton, 4 oz. of gift items (that seems to be about one Chibi or four stitch markers or a small bar of chocolate, for most players), and instructions.
The box recipient takes one of the balls of cotton and knits a 9×9″ dishcloth with it as fast as possible. She (in all but one case, I believe, the pronoun is accurate) appropriates the unused ball and the gifts, and then repacks the box with the newly-knit dishcloth, two more balls of cotton, and her own gifts for the next person down the line. Off to the post office, get a tracking number, and you have fulfilled your DRT duty.
Piece of cake, right? Except that the gold standard for speed is one day’s knitting, and I have never yet knit a dishcloth in one day. Some players with morning mail delivery have been getting the box back in the mail the same day. It’s all very intimidating.
So now that I know the box is on its way to me (having been mailed Saturday), I’m in my set position, U.S. 8 aluminum needles at the ready, yarn and goodies (unweighed … have I tried to squeeze in too many?!) sorta gathered and ready to shove in there. I’m expecting it Tuesday, meaning that I might be knitting during the pizza mixer I’ll be hosting for my freshman students that evening, in order to get a head start and avoid, as much as possible, late-night short rows and grafting (which I can only expect would be experiences with seriously diminishing returns).
There are prizes for the win, place, and show teams, as well as special prizes for fastest turn-around, prettiest cloth, and other such accomplishments (booby prizes for slowness, too). But with only two stops left on our team’s route, we’re pretty much in the middle of the pack, and I’m not expecting any swag to come my way. So why stress? For the same reason I always dreaded getting passed the ball in basketball, or having the ball hit to me in church-league softball. I don’t want to let down the team, and I fear I’m not up to the standards set by my teammates. All I want is not to embarrass myself and make a decent showing. Our mail comes at 4 or 5 pm, so (happily for me) there’s no chance of a less-than-single-day turn-around; I’ll be knitting overnight and mailing the next morning, if all goes well.
Why do I feel like I should spend the next 36 hours just holding my needles points-out, in case yarn decides to jump at me?