That Darn Orca (Starring Hayley Mills)

25 05 2011

That’s a lie. Hayley Mills has absolutely nothing to do with this. But I do remember her on Saved By the Bell before it was called Saved by the Bell (it was called Good Morning, Miss Bliss). And that also has nothing to do with anything.

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” – Douglas Adams

(I will only stop quoting Douglas Adams when he stops being so damn relevant.)

Last year I was making all those cute amigurumi animals, remember? They were fun and easy and quick to knit. So when I saw that Knit Picks was selling the pattern for an orca I coveted it at once. I posted the link on Facebook and the next thing I knew Bethany had commissioned me to make it for Annalie. This was back in August I think.

Deadline #1: Bethany’s Baby Shower
I wasn’t ready with her actual baby shower gift yet so I thought a fantastic placeholder would be the orca with an IOU note.


Happy Thing: FINISHED Orca (Swimming Amongst the Books)

As it turns out the orca involved a few things I’d never done before. I had to learn a crochet cast-on (and later how to pick up those stitches and knit in the opposite direction) and the whole thing surprised me by being done in intarsia. Probably in the future I will read patterns more clearly before I go proclaiming how I want to knit them. (Read patterns clearly? No I won’t. Why lie?) But no big deal, because I can learn stuff and I should learn stuff and I enjoy learning stuff. So it’s all good, just a surprise. However. I’m a sporadic knitter at best, and when there is thinking to be done I find myself not only putting off projects more than usual, but also finding it more difficult to find time to do the knitting requiring the thinking. My usual knitting is done in front of the TV or chatting with friends. I can’t multi-task. I am physically incapable of it. So Knitting With Thinking requires my full attention. Which makes it even more sporadic.

Deadline #2: Christmas
Bethany said, “No problem! I’ll just give it to Annalie for Christmas!”


the orca waves to you

After I got well into the body of the orca, I noticed the number of white stitches was off. The total number of stitches I had on the needles were right, but the number of white ones was wrong. I was confused. I puzzled over that for days. Weeks, maybe. I even took the pattern to my friend Karen who is Expert at All Things Fiber and she and I puzzled over that pattern for a full half hour before we figured out what I’d done wrong. Before this I’d never knit from a chart before and I decidedly do not like it, but I cannot tell if this problem was caused by me being inexperienced or if the chart itself is just really stupid. Anyway, after some frogging I was back on track and knitted away. By the time I got to the end of the chart, though, it was clearly Very, Very Stupid as it made some stitches magically disappear without any warning. I decided at that point it was best to ignore the chart and make up my own rules. It seems to have worked out well for the orca. And my sanity.

Deadline #3: Annalie’s Birthday
Bethany said, “No problem! We’ll just give it to Annalie for her birthday!”


fins in the RIGHT place

And then, when I was still possibly on timeish maybe, and certainly only two steps away from being finished, I sewed the pectoral fins on exactly where the pattern told me to, took a step back and looked at it and wondered why on Earth the fins were on the bottom of the damn orca. At which point my brain exploded all over the place. By this time I was certain that there must be reviews online about how this pattern is wrong and wrong and also wrong, but I didn’t find anything. In fact, when I looked it up on Ravelry, I saw that every single person had the fins sewn onto the bottom of the orca. I cannot figure out what to make of this. It is clearly not right. It looks strange and doesn’t begin to match the picture on the pattern itself. And yet I am the only one to have noticed? Or am I just the only one to speak up? It’s like I fell into Bizarro World only I haven’t yet met Me-With-a-Mustache (that’s how you can tell which one is the evil version of you).

Despite needing a few days to recover from that I probably would have made it on time but then Matt Lauer screwed everything up.

And so. I fail at deadlines. And, Bethany, I am so, so sorry.

But! I ROCK at orcas! Look how awesome he is. Very, very awesome.

handy travel-size orca

And poor Bethany has told me she feels awkward for putting me in the place of having to struggle with this project (meanwhile I feel awkward not doing it faster or better since she commissioned the project) but it’s really like how your little sister drives you nuts and you complain about her all the time and you love to complain about her all the time, but you still love her to pieces not so far underneath all the complaining? I mean. I don’t have a sister, but I assume that’s how it is. Anyway, that’s how it is with this orca. I don’t regret him one bit. All the confusion and stress I felt while making him makes me even prouder that I finally finished him (*cough*three deadlines later*cough*).

And my orca? He’s the one with the fins in the right place.

So thank you, Bethany – I honestly mean it! Now all I have to do is not procrastinate getting him in the mail. Let’s say by Annalie’s next birthday?