Daily Archives: June 15, 2012

A zero sum game

Every so often when I’m at a knit night or teaching a class or in some kind of group knitting scenario, a newer knitter has something happen to them that causes them to choose to rip out and re-knit knitting they’ve already done. (I say ‘choose’, because in the grand scheme of things, this is knitting, and in knitting you get to choose what comes off of your needles. Granted, some ‘choices’ are probably more adviseable in some circumstances than others, but there’s nobody stopping you from ignoring them if you so desire). And it’s generally met with visible sympathy by the group, because dudes, we have all been there. We understand what it’s like to experience a fairly intense existential crisis inside your head for the five seconds or so it took for you to realize the problem and the solution, before you ripped the work off the needles and started pulling.

June13-Swatching

The other thing that I have seen happen, often in tandem with the above, is an expression something along the lines of “oh I can’t wait until I’m a better knitter and I don’t make these stupid mistakes any more.” Well let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, if you are under the presumption that being a more experienced or skilled knitter is in some way related to making fewer mistakes, I am here to divest you of that assumption. (There are some people who would divest you of that assumption by laughing a lot. I may or may not be one of those people.) I’ve been knitting pretty hard core for about a decade and the projects on my needles come from my own brain as often as not, and dude, if there’s a way to do this and be perfect at the same time, I am still waiting for that moment to arrive.

This week I am in the trenches of a fairly heavy amount of design prep, and since the only way to get out of it is through, I’ve been making good use of my swatching, measuring, calculating, and generally all of the brain-related knitting skills I can, to try to head off as much of the potential mistake-making as possible. What ends up happening of course, is that the insanity happens all at once at the beginning rather than being neatly dispersed throughout. (I’m still not sure which is preferable, actually).

June15-Swatches

Sometimes it’s awesome and flows like a zen-filled river: I make a nice generous swatch, wash it and lay it out to dry, and when I check it the next day it comes out at a nice predictable gauge for the needle I used, and I sally forth and write up all the notes. Other days are like yesterday, when after working through a portion of the knitted piece, something niggled at me and I double (quadruple) checked my gauge swatch and realized I was off by one stitch. So, I dutifully went back and changed all my numbers – grudgingly, but it had to be done and so I did it. Then, later, when I was wrestling with a portion of ribbing and after re-casting on a second time that it still wasn’t doing what I wanted it to…and I realized with a sinking feeling that this was because I had mis-calculated the number of stitches in one of the cable panels that the ribbing was setting up..and I had to change all my numbers again.

Then, when I was knitting away on it again (this time with a large mug of theoretically soothing tea), I realized with an even sinkier sinking feeling that actually because the gauge change I dealt with in Realization #1 would in fact account for a bit more cable suckage and I didn’t actually need to make all of the changes I did as a result of Realization #2…and after a day of all that, I was finishing pretty close to where I’d started in the first place.

I suppose the moral of the story is that sometimes, even if it seems like you’re playing a zero sum game, there is still forward movement to be found. But this afternoon I’m still stocking up on potato chips. They’re awfully supportive of me.

May your weekend have successful knitting in it!
Happy Friday.

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