I like to read while I knit. Or perhaps it’s that I like to knit while I read. If  I’m knitting, after all, then I’m not wasting time, no matter how frivolous my reading.

My Grandmother Hazel, who taught me to knit, also read while she knitted. She read mystery novels (as I do) and also the historical sagas of people like John Jakes. I like a good historical novel myself, but never John Jakes. I actually have some good medieval ones on the shelves; maybe I should read one of them next, to infuse even more Viking spirit into my sweater.

Grandmother Hazel really only knitted one pattern. She did a top-down, no-seams raglan on circular needles, picking up the sleeves on circular sleeve needles after the body was finished. She had a leaflet that gave the directions to make this sweater in every size and every gauge, as a cardigan or a pullover. She made them in tiny cotton thread with a matching skirt for a Chanel-type suit, in worsted for a winter sweater, and everything in between. She never used pattern stitches or color work, although she did a lot of dressmaker details like pockets and attached scarves.

I once had a copy of that leaflet, and I made a few of those myself. But we have so many of Grandmother Hazel’s around the house that I will probably never make another. After all, hers are just about perfect. You make essentially the same sweater for a decade or seven and you are going to get very very good at it.

That’s not how I approach knitting. I like to do different things every time. I rarely follow a pattern exactly. I love to try out new things — like Viking knitting. I would rather do something difficult and interesting than repeat something until I perfect it.

This does mean that reading sometimes slows me down. Siv is a complicated cable, and when the book gets interesting, I sometimes find myself holding Siv in suspended animation for a while, until I wake up and notice. Then I knit steadily until the next plot crisis.

I have finished the back of the sweater and am about an inch from the armhole shaping on the front. And the first body has just been discovered in The Lemon Meringue Pie Murder.