29 March 2011

Day Two: Feel My Failure

Today's blog assignment is a difficult one for me:

Day Two: 29th March. Skill + 1UP

Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet?

I've looked back at my last year's worth of FOs, and I'm afraid all I see is a lack of willingness to check gauge resulting in crazily-sized objects. I feel so sheepish about this, because I know my knitting is better than this. It's my own impatience that prevents me from planning ahead. I measure while I knit, but I often ignore warning signs.

In the last year, I've made FOUR knitted baby items whose gauge is suspect. I lovingly finished the items with buttons, stitching, modifications. BUT, my simple lack of checking ahead and thinking about the finished object means the items may be too small/too big/too short/too wide/the wrong weight for the season for which they're intended... I always thought knitting baby items was the easiest thing to do because it's almost like instant knitting gratification when it comes to the finished object. But, I forget that not all babies are created equal; some are shaped differently, and just because I make it a couple sizes too big doesn't mean it will fit baby in the future.

Wool Cloth-Diaper Cover

Exhibit A: A wool diaper cover made for a friend. I followed the pattern, but had no idea how the button placement/amount of buttons factored in until after I was done. I have since moved them closer together, but there are only two. What if it does not fit friend's baby? What if it is not adjustable enough to be used? Woe.

Now I have a pile of baby items for friends' recent deliveries that I'm quite afraid to send them! And all the while that the FOs sit on my counter gathering dust, my friends' babies are aging! Who knows how big they are now, since I've held onto these! Maybe I should frog and start over! O.O

Peapod set

Exhibit B: I'm particularly sensitive about this FO, bc the pattern was a real bear. It took me 4 tries to knit. It was supposed to be the perfect gift for my friend's gender-unannounced fetus. Then I didn't finish it before the birth. And also it's roughly the size of a 1-year-old. And damned if there aren't mistakes, but I CONQUERED THIS PATTERN. Yeah, that doesn't make it any prettier. D-:

This blog post and confession has me feeling very repentant! My friends' babies deserve better, and I should not cheapen my work by being too impatient to measure against the pattern. Or, I should just knit baby blankets and stop knitting baby cardigans that are the wrong size.

Now what to do with all these ragamuffin baby items...


Newborn sweater

Exhibit C: O hai! I am a teeny-tiny baby sweater! You knit me in December, but now it's almost April. Not only am I likely too small for your intended recipient, but it's not really sweater weather south of the Mason-Dixon! Tee-hee! Don't mind me, just mocking you!

Exhibit D: Hey, remember teeny-tiny baby sweater? I'm a sweater you made a gauge mistake on and I'm HUGE! Maybe the width of a 3-year-old. Except a lot shorter! Good luck finding anyone but a toddler midget who can wear me!

So, to frog or not to frog? That is the question. One thing is for sure: I have learned from my mistakes. No babies will suffer from ugly-fitting knits in the future, if it is within my power. ^_^ Maybe I should have titled this blog "Skill -1 DOWN." This is definitely a lesson I learned the hard way, but it's a lesson learned nonetheless.

28 March 2011

Day One: A Tale of Two Ishbels

I'm trying to rekindle my feeble little knitting blog by taking part sort of unofficially in the 2nd annual Knitting & Crochet Blog Week--mostly bc they give me topics to blog about. And because in the last year, I've amassed a good deal of yarn and knitting knowledge! I should be qualifying it in some way, even if I'm still far behind my accomplished knitter friends! ^_^

Today's assignment: Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

Well, I'd been yearning to make an Ishbel (Ysolda Teague) ever since I first saw the pattern, but I'd never knit a lace shawl before. I did some serious amassing of fingering-weight yarns so that I'd have the perfect one for this wrap. I wanted something variegated that would still show the lace (so nothing with too much halo).

Schaefer HeatherI chose a beautiful multi-colored yarn, Schaefer Heather, a mix of superwash wool, silk, and nylon. The yarn was rust, dark silver blue, and deep wine colored. This is a gorgeous yarn, as you can see. I was totally excited about my beautiful shawl!

Frogged Ishbel
But, when I started knitting, something happened. The gorgeous colors just weren't flowing into the pattern the way I'd envisioned them. Knit together, it was more a cacophany; they almost clashed to my eyes. (Apologies for poor pic quality from my webcam!) I told myself to hold out; I was only into the stockinette portion of the Ishbel. So, I knit on into one full lace repeat, but I just couldn't stand to see the beautiful Heather this way; she deserved better. I knew it wasn't the fault of the pattern, as I'd seen others' beautiful FOs. It was simply a case of yarn vs. pattern incompatibility.

This was a new concept for me. I'd never contemplated that beautiful, quality yarn + paid-for, quality pattern could = disaster. But it turns out, you have to sort of let your yarns and patterns mingle until you find the ones that mesh well.

Fresh From the Cauldron Bavarian Sock
My second try was some Bavarian Sock from my favourite hand-dyer, Squibstitcher at Fresh From the Cauldron. The colors of FE, PI--coral, forest and olive greens, gold, and cream--contain as much or more contrast than the Heather yarn seemed to; however, I was surprised to find that the FFTC yarn wasn't as distracting as the Heather had been. All I know is the yarn took to the pattern immediately; I couldn't stop knitting it. Maybe old Iron Pi has a better balance of colors than Heather did. Or maybe there was a difference in the dyeing technique/pouring method that created a different look. Or maybe it was simply love at first sight between these two. All I know is, I love my FFTC Ishbel with its crazy colors.

Finished Ishbel

And I can't wait to see what the Heather will be...