Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Knitting Inspiration Turned Frustration

Blogging has reawakened my desire to knit. When I graduated from college 15 years ago (OMG!!), the first thing I did was take a knitting class. I wanted to do something meaningful but required no brain power. I wanted to use my hands.

The class I took was great--the instructor was a woman in her sixty's from the former Eastern Soviet Bloc. She was a knitting dynamo. At one point during the class, when I was turning the yarn into knots, she took my needles and knitted at least 2 inches in 30 minutes--no easy feat.

So began my knitting journey. Unfortunately, my desire to create beautiful knitted garments didn't amount to much, mainly because I didn't have the staying power to finish a project. I'd see a great pattern, buy the yarn for it and go at it for about a third of the project. Then I'd get bored and would deep six the project into a convienent plastic tub.

Imagine my shame when I come across A Friend To Knit With's blog. This woman is a profressional knitter. She creates several beautiful sweaters a year for friends and family, and expertly photographs them. She had me drooling.

She posted a pattern for fingerless gloves. She said it was her "go to" pattern for something mindless to do. I pictured myself slipping on these gloves every morning when I walked Ethan to school. It would add a chic element to my sweat pants/sweater/flip flops attire. The thought of knitting these gloves went from wimsy to obsession in a matter of seconds.

So I hauled out some great yarn--Classic Elite wool I bought 15 years ago (OMG!!)--and some double pointed kneedles and cast on. I was a little nervous because I had never used double pointed kneedles before. I had reason to be nervous. These buggers are tricky because if you don't pay attention, the tube you're knitting becomes twisted. I managed to keep that from happening, and was feeling pretty damn proud. But one thing I overlooked was creating extra stitches when I went from one needle to the next. I didn't realize was adding extra stiches until I was four rows into the project. Once I realized that, it was rip-out time, baby.

It's ok to start over once, but when you screw up a second time, you're patience wears thin. I was humming along, doing the rib pattern correctly, and then had to switch to a stockingnette pattern. When knitting in the round, you do the purl stitch continously to make the stockingnette stitch. Well, I forgot that, and did a few rows in the knit stitch instead. I didn't realize that my fingerless glove looked like a sweater turned inside out until I was at least 10 rows into the pattern. I wanted to just keep going with this wrong stitch because I was tired of starting over. But the worst fear any knitter faces is pullling a finished garment off the needles only to find it doesn't fit, doesn't look right, etc. Who really wants to wear a knitted garment that looks homemade? The zenith is to knit something that looks like it was bought in a boutique.

I'm at the crossroads I've found myself throughout my knitting career--do I deep six this project, or perservere until I get it right? At this point, I'm still holding onto the dream--to have some fingerless gloves that will do a cute job of keeping my hands warm. Hey, if I get them done in May, they'll be ready for next fall, right?


MaryAnn Ashley said...

They will look quite lovely with your sweat ensemble... carry on!

Wayfaring Wanderer said...

I call this the Martha Stewart mentality.....I'm sort of the same way about projects, and here's how I diagnosed myself.

Who do we learn things from? People who are waaaaay more qualified than we are about a subject, right?!

That being said, I think that unrealistic expectations are placed upon ourselves to 'measure up' to the same standards....which by the way are nearly impossible because... yep, you're right, they're 'experts' and we're not.

I call it the Martha Stewart Mentality because I look at her magazines, and think about how wonderful a neat and tidy, organized space just-like-that would look in my home. And to the point that it stresses me out even. I stopped reading her magazine because I couldn't handle that sort of pressure :)

So what was the whole point to my long and drawn out comment? Well, just take it all in what you can with what you have to work with.....practice helps.....

Most importantly, don't be discouraged.....Everyone had to start somewhere :o)

EatPlayLove said...

see, I "knit" basically anything rectangular or hats, that's it. I drool over cable knits and fancier designs.

I suggest working through a scarf first to match the fingerless gloves!

Kathleen said...

This sounds just like me! I've started a hat last week that I had to rip out twice, due to not understanding the pattern completely. I've promised the hat to someone, otherwise I'd probably just scrap the project.

I too took a knitting class after getting out of college 10 years ago and have been knitting ever since. It's the one craft that I always go back to.

Keep on trying those mitts! They'll be great for those pre-winter days.

Honey Mommy said...

I used to crochet... and cross-stitch. Now I don't seem to have time for such things. I would much rather sew a blanket than crochet one because it takes less time.

Maybe someday I will get back into it. Good luck to you! I was never that good at knitting!

Kathleen said...

I like the colour, keep with it, i knit, although not much just now and it is frustrating but totally worth it.

maggie said...

I say keep going! I would love to learn how to knit someday. I've tried out of a book, and I never even get to the point where it's anything other than just a piece of yarn. I need a dummy course, I think, but I'll gladly cheer you along! :)

sara l said...

The inpiration, the amazing image in your head, and then reality.

In order to keep myself happy I've learned to live with the mistakes. I take it as a part of the character of homemade items.

I say keep going with them. My favorite thing to practice with is dishcloths. They cut down on paper towel use (saving money and resources) and are one of the few things I can say are truly "mindless."

The Parsons Family said...

I have so many UFO sitting around and every year I make a determination to not buy anymore yarn and get things done just to see how many knitting needles I actually own...hahaha well, I always find an excuse to buy no matter how many projects are on needles they will always be there and one day you will have fingerless gloves...I tend to make hats when I just need to feel a sense of accomplishment...finished project!! so that yarn would look great in a hat or a scarf if you just have to knit:)

Cookie said...

I always wanted to learn how to sew. Can't wait to see the finished product :)

hokgardner said...

Keep at it, even if you have to rip out. It's all a learning process. Or you can leave the inside-out look there and call it a design element.

And don't try to knit a scarf - they're deadly boring!

MadMad said...

Oh, yay for you and knitting! Keep trying (I know Leslie said it was easy but it's actually not an easy project for a semi-novice and you're using metal, slippery needles, too!)

rainbowmummy said...

I recently learnt to knit, I am not sure I like it, I think I will buy a spool knitter like I had when I was a child, something just to "do", you know. Ripping wool is the worst feeling ever!