SHIFT: May Check In
Tales From the Garden

Meet . . . The Poor Relations

Two weeks ago, I explained my strategy for summer knitting (digging through my time-out bin filled with a veritable “dysfunctional family” full of projects) and introduced you to The Problem Child.

This week, allow me to introduce The Poor Relations.


But first – some backstory.

When I was in high school, there was a boy in our crowd . . . let’s call him Rick (because, well, his name was Rick).  Anyway. Rick had a really irritating way of engaging you in conversation . . . while keeping an eye out for someone “better” to talk to. I’m sure you’ve encountered the type. Rick, who was funny and generally friendly, was always looking to “up” his own “social capital” by seeking out those who might be "cooler" than he was (or we were!). We were well aware of his tendency, and we teased him about it all the time. When he would spot someone he thought might be “better” (in that high school pecking order sort of way) to talk to at a party or gathering or even just at lunch, we’d just roll our eyes and say . . . “Who are we? Your poor relations?”

Yep. “Poor relations.” Good enough to hang around with when you need ‘em, but when someone “better” comes along? Bye bye!


When the pandemic first hit back in March 2020, my focus and brain capacity were at a real low. I didn’t have the focus for reading. I couldn’t concentrate on my knitting, either. And, suddenly, much of my social life and all of my meetings and classes were Zoom-based. I was desperate for something simple and easy to do with my hands while Zooming.

Enter . . . The Poor Relations.

Just a few weeks before everything shut down for the pandemic, I had gone to a small fiber “event” with a local knitting friend. While there, I picked up a lovely-in-the-skein 750-yard cake of hand-spun and hand-dyed suri alpaca. I had no plan for the yarn. I surely didn’t need it. But it caught my eye, and I bought it. (You know how it is when you’re at one of these fiber things. The fumes. The vibe. The enabling friend.)

Anyway, when I realized I needed something super easy and rather mindless to knit before yet another Zoom meeting, I grabbed that new cake of yarn and this pattern . . . and cast on. (Although I’ve never knit a Hitchhhiker, I think it’s basically a Hitchhiker with “pleats?”

The project lived under my desk, permanently. For years. When I needed it, I picked it up and worked on it. When something “better” came along, I kicked it back under the desk. (Thus . . . The Poor Relations.)

Sometimes, I didn’t work on it for months and months at a time. Some of my (ahem) “better” projects were also well-suited to Zoom calls, so I always chose to work on them ahead of The Poor Relations. But, when I needed them (when there was nobody "better" around), The Poor Relations were always eager to be back in play! Often our re-introductions were a little awkward as I had to recall the basic rhythm of the pattern or fix all the stitches that had dropped off the needle in my neglect. But there they were. The Poor Relations. Always ready for another conversation.

Needless to say, The Poor Relations are still around. (750 yards of yarn can make a really long shawl, y’know?) The project will never be my favorite. I liked the yarn a lot better when it was all caked up. It was . . . prettier. It's a little jarring and abrupt in the knitting.  But it’s . . . okay. It’s super soft and drape-y, and I’m sure the resulting wrap will keep me warm. 

If I ever finish it, that is!

My Zoom meetings are fewer these days. I’m meeting up with local friends in real time, face-to-face, more often now. But The Poor Relations have been back in my life again (always eager for any morsel of my attention) in the evenings while I watch TV. While I'd prefer to work on my “better” and "cooler" project (The Problem Child) I'm afraid it must go to bed early – before the TV comes on in the evening, y’know?


But, as you can (maybe) see in that photo, I’m past the complicated cable motif section of The Problem Child now. So The Poor Relations? They may find themselves back under the desk again . . . real soon!

How about you? What are you making this week?


(Stop by next week and I'll introduce you to the final project in my "dysfunctional family collection of knits" . . .  The Prodigal Son.)



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I'm not sure what I like better, the projects themselves or the names you come up with for them! I can see how this shawl will be a great accessory once it's done but how it can also quickly become a slog. But it also seems like with those pleats, it would be easy to make some progress (if you so wanted) by committing to doing one a day or a certain number a week -- you know, if you need some sort of goal to motivate you. Or you may be perfectly happy to shove it under the desk!


I knew a Rick, except his name was Peter. I bet every high school has at least one, and they are certainly well-represented in the adult world. I kind of like your Poor Relations, but maybe I'm feeling just a little sorry for it, all forlorn on the table next to a cabled superstar. Maybe if/when it's finished and blocked it will move up to become the Fun Cousin!


Oooh, that Problem Child! The Poor Relations will always be there...


But, but, but's ALPACA!!!!

Four rows (okay), FIVE rows a day. You can manage that, RIGHT???

Poor relations might just surprise you and become the crazy rich uncle!


Those long boomerang type (I’m guessing) shawls can make great Danish -style wrap shawls depending on how they drape. The one I made from. Lion Brand Shawl -in-a-Ball was very stretchy and covered my upper arms at just the right length. Unfortunately the metallic nature of the yarn (I was beguiled by the color combo) makes it feel that the only way to style the thing was with jeans, a white tank top and a lot of attitude and worn to an outdoor music concert. Which hasn’t happened lately (the ‘attitude’ maybe never). But the diagonal lines are very flattering and your fabric may work for a lot more places. So there may ‘cool’ness yet with your Poor Relations.


LOL - I think we all know a Rick (or two or three at least). They are everywhere. In high school, my Rick was named Curt. The alpaca is so pretty...but I can see how knitting that shawl could be a real slog. I like the idea of just doing "X" number of rows per day...or one pleat...or something. It would really be a cozy wrap come next winter!

kim in oregon

I really like the colors in the poor relation!
I just finished the storm shawl and last night cast on for a phases of the moon shawl by Ambah O'Brien . Just reading the directions blew my mind!


I am loving these project names! I have a project or two that have been kicked under the desk as well. One (a "vanilla" sweater) will soon be heading to the Frog Pond... I was in love once but then I began to see bodies wearing their vanilla sweater... and oof... it is the sweater that looks good on no one.

However, that is okay with me... I have another lingering sweater that I do still love and it will be the perfect Welcome Fall Sweater... so I better get moving on it! LOL


I too love the names that you have chosen for these projects and have loved meeting them. I have been knitting dish cloths for fund-raising for weeks, I have about 15 now. I have paused as I have gotten fed up with them and am back to my much neglected sweater. I only have a few more rows on the body and then I will be able to get started on the arms, should have it finished for next autumn at this rate!


This might be your best group of names yet - and you've had some great ones over the years! The Poor Relations are actually quite lovely and I predict you will finish them up and move on very soon. I'm glad the Problem Child is becoming less problematic, too.


I too am enjoying the names of these languishing projects as well as the projects themselves. I like them both. My remark to the "Ricks" was, "What am I, chopped liver?" Now this project is definitely not chopped liver. May it be finished soon. Progress keepers are my answer to the black hole of knitting.


All my knitting projects are Problem Children. I can't seem to get back in the swing. The won that might make it back into rotation is a sock that only needs a toe. Sadly, it's been a failed attempt three times!


I love your Problem Child and Poor Relations names! So perfect. Srsly, though, both are excellent knits.

The comments to this entry are closed.