Ever since you had that beautiful one-armed baby ...
... you knew that eventually you would have to knit her a sweater spun out of a yarn made from stinging nettles.
You knew this because The Wild Swans is your favorite Andersen fairy tale, and the thought of that one swan-brother left with a wing because his sweater wasn't quite done in time is something that stayed with you ever since you first read the story in 1973.
And now you have yourself a real-life swan who only needs half a sleeve.
It isn't until you're knitting her college trousseau that you realize you haven't even started that nettles project. You'd better get on it. It took that poor princess years to make eleven swan-sweaters, and you're not even sure what a nettle is.
A brief wiki search tells you that this spinning of nettles is not for the beginner, and you, who are allergic to everything, are better off using some sort of symbolic equivalent in the world of commercial yarn.
Wet-spun linen is uncomfortable to work with, even painful if you do it fast enough. Since your hands are sued to merino and silk, linen does indeed feel like a challenge.
You find the ideal pattern: a cardigan with no buttons. You imagine this is probably similar to what the princess made, since according to the story she throws the little coats over the swans as opposed to pulling them over their heads. Because that would just be silly: pulling crew-neck sweaters over the heads of swans, watching them poke their beaks through the neckhole. In a Woody Allen rendering of this fairy tale, it probably would be turtlenecks -- argyle ones at that -- and the poor princess would be wrestling with those swans to get their sweaters on as the crowd descends upon her and hands her over to the executioner for presumed sorcery.
Truthfully, the pattern is a little dull and you decide you should blog about it to rally your enthusiasm. You find a copy of the Hans Christian Andersen story online, for fact-checking purposes, and then you realize you never really understood this story at all. This is not a story about sweaters. This is not a story about half-finished sleeves; it isn't even a story about swans.
This is a story about a younger sister who saves her older brothers with her one art.