Casting On

For years I have talked of learning to knit.  And then 3 weeks ago on the Winter Solstice, a neighbor gave me a Learn To Knit Kit for Christmas, got herself one as well, and said that a third neighbor, a long-time knitter, would help us if we had trouble.

No trouble here.  For 2 weeks the Kit — 2 fat needles; 2 balls of soft, thick wheat-colored yarn; instructions to make a hat or scarf — lay in the living room, stirring up my energy, but somehow, not for knitting.

Garfield likes to look at the Learn To Knit Kit, too.

“You are a Contemplator of Knitting,” says the Bearded One.  “You want mental yarn.”

This would be an insult if it weren’t so obviously true.  “My problem is I can’t envision an end product that I want,” I say.  Then I ask him:  “Do you want a hat?”  No.  “A scarf?”  No.

What I want, I realize, is goats.  Maybe I’m just a pretender on that front, too, I think.  A talker not a doer.  A mere Contemplator of Goats.  The Bearded One is quick to point out that a lot more than contemplation has been afoot regarding goats.  More like preparation.

 I start checking Craigslist for Pygora goats, the goats I’ve contemplated for 3 years now.  I tell the yarn and needles what I’m up to every time I walk by.

There are 3 categories of goats — milk goats, meat goats, and fleece goats.  On Craigslist there are lots of Nubians (milk goats) and brush-eating mixed-breed goats, and some meat goats, but there are never any Pygoras, the Pygmy/Angora mix that was first bred in the late 1980s by a lady in Oregon.  She wanted a small, “homesteading” goat good for milking and meat if need be, but fantastic for fleece.  I love long hair.  I love soft things, and I want to shepherd a little herd.

“Have you cast on?” our Twenty-Something son asks, eyeing the untouched Knitting Kit.

I am shocked that he knows this phrase.  He’s known it since 8th grade, he says, when knitting was part of an art class.  I feel sheepish.  Goatish.

I tell him I saw the neighbor who gave me the kit on the road and she has already cast on and knitted a foot-long thing.  She had lost some stitches along the way, she admitted.  Still, she started.  And she vouched for the quality of instruction in the booklet.  She’d checked out other instructions and even videos on-line.

“I don’t know what my problem is,” I say.  Our son is amused.  I retreat to my computer.

And then on Sunday night, January 8, a full moon, I cast on.  Our son is gone, the Bearded One is watching TV, and I sit in my rocker with the beautiful yarn ball clamped between my knees, the instruction booklet propped against it, a tree limb-sized needle in each hand, and every brain cell I possess focused on the words and drawings.

I work for a couple of hours.  I cast on eight foundational stitches, knit the row, and then switch hands and knit another row.  This is a gauge square, the booklet explains.  Knit it first, then go on to the actual scarf.  Or hat.

But I never get there.  I knit 4 rows and then go to check Craigslist.  And there they are. Three little 4-year-old Pygoras on Vashon Island, a ten-minute ferry ride from us!  Impossible but true.  They are perfect.  Two wethers — castrated males — and one un-fixed female.  One black, one white, one light brown.  The white one is the girl, the ad says.  $200 OBO.

The Bearded One comes up the stairs and I shriek and read the ad out loud to him.  He thinks they’re great.  The energy coursing through my body is over the full moon, I type out a letter of interest and receive a response within fifteen minutes.  They are still available!

The next day both the Bearded One and I talk on the phone with the delightful owner and learn all we can.  She has a pregnant cow and pregnant Nubian goat and will have too many goats.  She won’t charge us anything, she says, if we promise they will be pets and fleece goats, not meat.  At least for several years.  And we have to transport them.  Deal, we say.

Pearl (white one) is mohair type fleece, and LaLa (black) and Sage (light brown) are cashmere.

Their names are Pearl, LaLa and Sage.  Pearl is the girl and the boss, LaLa is black and a boy and named because he has a loud voice, and Sage is Pearl’s brown brother, named for his Brahma-like facial markings.

We’ll rent a trailer.  We’ll buy some straw and orchard hay, a 50# bag of “dry cob”, feeding bowls and watering troughs.  Then we’ll pick up the herd THIS Friday.

The Bearded One comes in from clearing out the animal end of the barn and notices my tiny knitted gauge strip with the rest of the Kit, untouched since Sunday night.  “Now that’s just what I need,” he says.  “A pinky ring!”


4 responses to “Casting On

  1. Thrilling! I love the photo of the three siblings. The heart wants what it wants–leaving the knitting to find the three on Craig’s List was inspired (or fated). Keep warm; show us a photo of The Bearded One with his pinky ring.

  2. Christine Widman

    I so understand about the knitting!
    My mother-in-law could knit in her sleep. Our daughters were rosy-cheeked & warm in pink cotton home knit sweaters & caps with thick perfect pink pom-poms on top. Our oldest son’s favorite birthday present when he turned six was a knitted sweater from his Grandma with Redskin Quarterback Sonny Jurgensen’s football number knit on the front of the sweater.
    My mother-in-law tried to teach me to knit. I began an afghan for my sister to give her when she started college. My sister will celebrate her 60th birthday this year. The afghan – one long skinny single panel of it – lay in my “knitting basket” along with the needles and yarn for years and years untouched after my first week’s attempt. I finally tossed the entire basket – yarn, needles, pitiful knitting strip and all into the garbage can several years ago.
    However – miracle or DNA – my two daughters knit like their paternal grandmother. One of my favorite photos in the world is of my two daughters knitting side by side on a couch – my oldest daughter fully pregnant with our first grandchild. Both girls knitting something for the baby due any day.
    So…knitting doesn’t do it for me but goats DO!!! I am thrilled to my marrow that you will be getting goats soon.
    Lala, Pearl & Sage. The most fantabulous names in the world for 3 Pygora
    I’m dancing all around my studio.
    Yay. Yay. Yay.

  3. Christi and Keith – this is such a lovely story. I’m so happy for you that you finally have your animal farm. Oh, right, tomorrow is the official day. We’ll be thinking of you.

  4. This story really touched my heart. I never learned to knit, and although my Mom knit a little when I was a child, she also worked a full time factory job since before I was born. I had a Nanny who looked after my sisters and me while my Mom was at work. The first one was an old English lady named,(if you can believe it) Mrs. Buckingham. I loved her! She was a stickler for bundling up when we went outside. The next one, and my favorite was an Irish matron by the name of Mrs. Weir! She would sit and knit all day long, when she wasn’t cooking, or otherwise taking care of my sisters and me. I still have a hat she knitted for me when I was about 6 years old. Beautiful wool in multicolored pastel. I’m so excited about the goats. Now that you’re finally getting them, you should definitely learn to knit. You could make scarves and hats for your Grandchildren that you’re sure to have someday! Thanks for writing Farmlet, Christi! It’s my favorite thing to read when I get home from work. Sending all my love to the Farmlet Family! ❤ ❤ ❤

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