Um...yeah, they really are funky. Here's a mulitple choice quiz you can take. Please choose from the following what was said to me as a child by both children and adults.
1) "Are your thumbs deformed?"
2) "Did your thumbs get slammed in a door?"
3) "They look like big toes on your hands."
4) All of the above.
5) None of the above.
Ding, ding, ding. If you answered, "All of the above", I will knit you a neck cozy. (No, not really, but if you are ever in the area I'll buy you a Whopper.)
I was so self-conscious about my thumbs in elementary school that when we had to sit on the floor I would tuck my thumbs under my palms when I leaned back on my hands. I would also often look down at my hands and envision the surgical procedure I would perform on myself if I had the proper equipment and plenty of Lidocaine (make a slit on both sides of each thumb and then chisel and file off all the extra bone).
By the time I hit junior high I was still embarrassed by my hands (what boy would be interested in a girl who had big toes on her hands?). I also started to become a bit annoyed with the curious impoliteness of people, especially adults. (Hey, all you baby boomers, you were supposed to be setting a good example for all us young'uns!) I don't remember whether or not I was still embarrassed by my thumbs in high school and college. What I do remember was falling in intense like with The Far Side sometime in my teens. One of my favorite cartoons showed two cows sitting on a loveseat and watching TV. Across the room a telephone is ringing and the one cow says to the other, "Well, there it goes again...And here we sit without opposable thumbs." I laughed and took it to heart. Yeah, my thumbs are strange-looking and not exactly pretty, but they are opposable digits and that has made my life a whole lot easier.
At this point you are either saying to yourself, "Hey...you know...I remember I went to school with this girl...Karen whatshername...she had toe-thumbs! I bet they look just the same as yours!" Or, you might be reading this thinking, "I have never seen such a phenomenon! Do you have a picture?" Why, friendly reader, as a matter of fact I do!
So what does that have to do with knitting? The good news is that opposable digits make it possible for me to knit. The other good news is that my funky thumbs don't seem to hinder me at all except when it comes to casting on using only one needle, a thumb, and a forefinger. (I learned how to cast on with two needles, but for some projects - I'm thinking one-row buttonholes - it is beneficial to be able to cast on using only one needle.) The first time I learned how to cast on this way, the yarn kept getting caught on the boney buttresses of my thumbs. I kept having to shake the yarn off my thumb and I found myself thinking unkindly of my thumbs before remembering my motto, "Hey, they are opposable digits!"
So thank you, Gary Larson. Your humor signed a peace treaty between me and my funky thumbs. Perhaps someday I will knit you a hat. On it will be a cow wearing red lipstick and cat-eye glasses; knitting and talking on the phone.