Sunday, November 27, 2005


What I've learned this year as I got back to knitting seriously:

  1. If I wouldn't go into Nordstroms or Neimans or anyplace else, pick it off the rack, ohh and ahh and then shell out money for it, then I shouldn't make it either - no matter how cool the technique or interesting the pattern.
  2. Listen to the yarn, or your inner voice, or silent misgivings. If you think it's hinky, it probably is. If the yarn isn't knitting up the way you hoped it would, or it doesn't have the 'hand' or the look that you wanted - STOP! rip it out, change what needs to be changed - even if it is the pattern. Finally, this year I got that. It took ripping that whole Silk Garden sweater apart after it was half seamed, and choosing a different pattern for that yarn; It took ripping 2 finished fronts and half a back that is now 'yarn' again, because I knit a shiny slippery sport weight yarn in a pattern meant for worsted weight wool, on needles that were too big - the resulting knit fabric was horrid - and I never would have worn it. Sharron gave me a book a couple of weeks ago on sweater design. Great book BTW, and I started reading it while we were gone. In the first Chapter Margaret (I'll look up the book and the author soon, I promise) talked about letting the yarn tell you what it wants to be. Valuable lesson there.
  3. After doing my share of bashing novelty yarns, I recognized that I like some bling, and I have a fair amount of yarns that incorporate metallics, and I Like Them!
  4. I'm starting to get it that the yarn determines pattern and pattern dictates yarn. I love love love cables and popcorns and detail - detail that shows best in solid color plied yarns. Yarns that allow stitch definition to come through. Cables and bobbles and leaf patterns generally get lost behind the haze of mohair, and in the thick-n-thin of handspun, and often even get lost in the color gradations of handdyes and variegated. And I'm finally getting it that when using a really interesting yarn, let the yarn tell the story and keep the pattern Simple - KISS. I've been playing with yarns from my stash, lumpy, bumpy, shiny and fuzzy, in a scarf that is supposed to be for mom for Christmas, but I'm going to have a hard time letting this one go, And I actually resisted the temptation to devise some intricate pattern. I have been knitting in straight garter stitch - and I'm loving this. Having way too much fun. The yarns are so pretty, and I'm just letting them be. On the other hand, I'm still learing that one. The gloves I've got on the needles right now, the cables are totally lost in the color and shine. Sneak peek on the scarf
  5. I've learned that if fit matters SWATCH. Then wash and block that swatch. For real. If it's a scarf - forget it, but if it's a garment that needs to fit - swatch and measure. Got it!
  6. I've accepted that as much as I love the melting pot look of variegated yarns in the skein, I generally don't like the way they knit up, all stripey. I appreciated the dyeing techniques, I generally love the soft transitions in the skeins, but I guess that I am just a pretty stick straight type that wants my clothing to be solid or the colors more deliberate in prints, tweeds, ...less abstract. I love color - but it will save me lots of $ and time in the long run to finally accept that all those pretty skeins never deliver the look I'd hoped for.
  7. Overheard at the ASE conference in Sept: "People collect all sorts of things and don't feel the need to use them, or the need to apologize for owning them ( ie teapots, antique weapons, stamps). So Stop feeling guilty over owning stash of fabric (yarn, fiber etc) . Own it and enjoy it as a collection," and consider it a bonus when you use it to sew or knit with. (my editorializing in the added on end of that sentence).
  8. I have an incredibly wonderfully understanding and patient Husband when it comes to my projecting.

Just ripped this today. Same yarn as Ashlees scarf - another friend who saw it in progress loved it, loved the yarn. I thought I would make her a scarf, but wanted to do a different pattern - after all I'd just done 2 of those cabled scarves - so I started this twisting full cabled scarf - UGH. I kept forging ahead thinking it would get better, that I could fix it by sewing pearls at the twists - after finishing 3 29-row repeats, I gave in. This yarn is gorgeous knit into the Irish Hiking scarf - this yarn is ugly knit up like this. I'll knit the 3 cabled Irish Hiking Scarf again and my friend will love it and won't care that I've made several others.


Donni said...

I found myself nodding "Yes" to each point - well said - now I just have to learn to practice it all! :) How is your scarf going for your exchange?

Elizabeth said...

Sounds like you got your hands on Maggie Righetti's Sweater Design in Plain English. That is one of the most enduringly useful knitting books I own. I don't agree with her on everything, but there's a lot she gets right.

Knit and Purl Grrl said...

Methinks you should write your own great book about knitting! I would buy it. :)