Adso Hand Warmers and Breaking Bad

So I’ve decided to take a hiatus from knitting circle scarves and turn my attention towards hand warmers (which are circle scarves for your wrists). I know my sartorial sense is a bit lacking, but from what I understand, hand warmers are a mildly trendy, somewhat hipster, poor man’s version of gloves. They don’t cover the individual fingers, allowing full range of motion for all of your dexterous endeavors as well as eliminating all of that handedness nonsense. Basically these serve as an extra set of sleeves, useful for when the ones that came with the shirt you’re wearing don’t seem to be making the cut.

Since the general schematic for knitting hand warmers is pretty simple (i.e. essentially knitting a tube), I decided to use this opportunity to integrate my creative imagination (redundant?) and advanced mathematics. Yes, you’ve read (in between the lines) correctly. The hand warmers you see above are my own original pattern! Yeah, I know they may not look like much, but it’s actually quite challenging to get the dimensions correct and to guesstimate how high and how medial to put the thumb hole such that the pattern runs along the top of the hand.  And ultimately, after several tries (I have a bag of misshapen hand warmers if any of you want to yarn bomb something), I’m proud of this sizable achievement. So much so that I’ve named these hand warmers after the humble narrator in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose (if any of you are looking to read a book with page-long sentences and full conversations in Latin, this is a must). To those of you who haven’t yet/don’t care to/don’t want to read The Name of the Rose, Adso is this meek 14th century Italian monk (For some reason, I see him played by Jack Black in my head.) who assists his shrewd and forward thinking master, William (played by Sherlock Holmes played by Robert Downey Jr.) in solving a series of murders in an Italian monastery. An exciting read (especially if you say all of Adso’s lines as if it were Jack Black in School of Rock).

Now an inside look at these hand warmers doing what they do best:

Okay, now stop. I’m assuming that around 20% of you don’t know why we’re stopping while the other 80% are preparing to lose all respect for me. So, to dispel the huge knitted elephant in this shared virtual space, I’ll just come out and say it: Yes, those are my hands. These hand warmers were not intended to be unisex, but due to the lack of access to female hands and the convenient availability of my own hands, I sucked it up, moisturized, waited for my entire apartment to clear out, and wore the hand warmers like a man. I did my best to make the pictures as ambiguous as possible (there’s only so much the ‘Retouch’ feature on iPhoto can do), using a low depth of field and increasing exposure, but in the end, what can I say, my hands are 100% guy.

Oh yeah, and here’s one more picture of me trying to get a cliche blogging-in-the-fall picture:

I think most people do this holding an apple, or leaves, or a small puppy, but all I had at the time was a red onion I bought from Safeway. I’m pretty sure by this point I was telling myself, “Just find anything to hold that will distract from my wrinkly fingers.”

I know what you’re thinking. Should’ve gone with the puppy.

For those of you who have known about my knitting from its humble beginnings of garter stitch scarves and bullet shaped hats, you will notice with these hand warmers that I’ve come a long ways.  And I can honestly say that over the years of dropped stitches and accidental felting, I have become a moderately skilled knitter.  And for the longest time, I thought that it was my improvement in knitting that kept me so kaptivated with yarn work.  However, as I learned recently, this is not the case.  Kase.

A few weeks ago, on my way home from work, I stopped by a local Michael’s to pick up some yarn for a project I wanted to start.  It was almost closing time, so there were only a few other customers in the store with me.  I was browsing the yarn selection when I overheard this mother and daughter discussing what yarn to buy behind me.

“This one’s so soft, we should get it!” the daughter said.

“You’re right, it would make a great sweater!” answered the mother.

I turned around and looked at the yarn that they’re talking about. You guessed it: Red Heart Super Saver. To be completely honest it was a softer version of their usual acrylic, but it wasn’t much better. A million things popped into my mind at that moment: Did they know they were using 100% acrylic to make a sweater? Would they prefer wool? And if so, Peruvian Highland or Merino?  Do they want superwash, or are they okay with hand washing it?  What’s the gauge they’re expecting? Do they have the right weight? Worsted? DK? Sport?

Then it hit me. Breaking Bad.

I started watching Breaking Bad (The stress on the ‘”Bad.”  I’ve heard people recently say “Breaking Bad,” and that just sounds weird) around a month ago and now I spend 10 minutes after each episode curled up on my bed crying (on the inside, of course).  It’s a depressing show, but it’s oddly addictive. For those of you who don’t watch, it’s about a high-school-teacher-turned methamphetamine manufacturer extraordinaire and the rapid downward spiraling of all things good in his life.   The usual drugs, sex, and violence occur, but there’s this one scene in particular that really stuck with me. Walter White (the aforementioned meth manufacturer) is shopping at a supermarket late at night when he sees a kid buying supplies for a meth lab (Those of you who watch the show know what I’m talking about and are getting anticipatory goosebumps).  Walt, who is trying to forget his felonious side job for the sake of his family, cannot control himself (a common problem for Walt) and approaches the kid later in the parking lot and says with bone-chilling coolness, “Stay out of my territory.”

Ooh, that was good.

And it was in that moment, standing in the yarn corner of Michael’s at 8pm, that I realized how much I wanted to say the very same thing to that mother and daughter, and in fact, to all knitters in the East Bay.  I was Heise(k)nberg.

Now, I’ll be the first to say that it only takes a quick inspection of my work to determine that I am not a “knitter extraordinaire” (that class of people would be strictly reserved for continental-knitting, porch-sitting, octogenarians).  And I know there are tons of people out there who have enough knitting knowledge to put my blog to shame.  Moreover, and unfortunately so, I admit to having skeins over skeins of Red Heart Super Saver yarn stuffed away in my closet.  So, you might ask, if I am no knitting prodigy, why then do I identify so much with Walter White?

There is something about having a talent that no one expects you to have that makes you want to excel in that area all the more.  This secret ambition may be motivated by public attention or personal arrogance (clearly not me.  On an unrelated note, continue to check out my etsy as I will be posting new items for sale shortly.) or perhaps it’s a “stick it to the man” attitude.  I’m not self actualized enough to discern the exact nature of my own motivations, but I do know that this is why I so fervently knit.  And this also why Walter White can’t stay away from cooking meth.  We do it because no one would ever expect it from us.

I know it’s a long jump from the land of gentle knitters to the meth labs of Albuquerque, New Mexico, but I’m not gonna lie.  Somedays, when I’m sitting on the bus getting ready to work on a dinosaur hat, it feels like I’m about to push a pound of crystal.

***The 2011 film, Like Crazy, was filmed entirely without a script using only a Canon DSLR camera.  The budget did not exceed $250,000.


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