Small things requiring some attendance

December 5, 2015

Thank very much for the time so many of you took to respond to the last post I am not a quilter. If you didn’t subscribe to comments, I encourage you to pop back and read the reflections of other readers on identity and craft practice. They are considered and thought provoking.

This is a quiet post after the intellectual wrestling we all shared last week. A post about small things and the wayward things that happen from inattention.

IMG_1559The first was to be a red and white version of Oakenshield Armoured using undyed cream Gotland from Granite Haven and an odd ball of Cleckheaton Ultrafine Merino from last Christmas. This was intended for a friend and needed a slightly larger head circumference than my last one. Instead of going back to my original calculations and making the alteration there, I made the fatal mistake of plugging my own colourwork chart into another hat pattern (that I had never made before). Despite the gauge being the same, it became increasing clear that this hat was going to be too large. I ripped it out and again, instead of going back to my own calculations, I cast on the same pattern in a smaller size. My mind was overful of other things, returning to study, balancing old and new demands, you know the stuff. I think I thought I was saving time, making it easier for myself by using ready-made stitch counts/schematics instead of working it out myself. If only, I had made a little mental room, I could have saved myself many hours knitting.

IMG_1557It was still too big and I had run out of time to rip back again. So, the hat became a cowl. A rather cozy cowl, I think. But it is not the hat I imagined and still want to make for my friend.

The second hat, another colourwork hat was intended as a slouchy beanie. It uses overdyed grey Gotland yarn from Granite Haven and an unidentified undyed cream yarn from my stash. The size was right this time, as I went back to those original calculations! But I then I ran out of yarn for a slouchy style and had to improvise a beret to finish the hat within the available yarn.

IMG_1925 So there you have it, the tale of two hats that determined their own form despite my earnest yet distracted intentions.

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  1. They both turned out beautifully, despite the alterations … I think we all do this, think we are saving time when in fact it is the opposite .. my oft made ‘mistake’ is continuing to knit on when I know something is not ‘quite right’ (a twisted stitch or a slightly ‘off’ lace pattern etc) but convince myself i can live with it, after another couple of hours work, I realise I actually can’t so have to rip back or restart completely…after 45 years of knitting why do I still do this? lol

  2. Thank you for that post and it is so timely for me as I keep trying to finish knitting a sample of a colourway in a lace pattern and keep undoing bits and pieces.

    One of my favourite pieces of advice is If you don’t have time to do it right, then how will you find time to do it over. A shame I only refer to it in hindsight.

    I’m impressed you have your own calculations for hats!

    I’ll go back and read the post on not being a quilter now.

  3. Even though the red and white cap was too large, it is still very pretty. So is the grey and white beret. I love to look at the tops of berets, and see how the pattern changes as the number of stitches decreases.

    I have some grey Granite Haven Gotland, which I spun into a silvery 2ply. It will be metamorphosing into a shawlette. I’m not worried about gauge for this; just using a shawlette pattern, an appropriate-sized needle for the yarn and lace.

    1. Dear Helene, Thank you, I too love the tops of berets, especially complex Fair Isle ones. It is like looking a kaleidoscope. I have Mary Rowe’s book on Knitted Tams and have knitted a Fair Isle one from her worksheet at the back. They could become quite addictive I reckon. This beret was tricky as it wasn’t a sectioned pattern and I had to try and keep the shape of the triangles whilst decreasing. Perhaps not completely successful but certainly an interesting challenge. I am very curious to see how your Granite Haven shawlette goes. Two ply will be perfect for lace and the silver sounds very very beautiful. Please do share a finished pic or ravelry link.

  4. Breathe Deep, Rebecca!! We’ve all been there sometime in our knitting life and if not it will happen somewhere down the road.

    1. Dear Elaine, Thanks! It is quite funny how some projects seems to have a complete will of their own or at least seem to travel on a journey that you never intended. Other projects are nicely compliant, others poke out their tongues and laugh at you. Ah well, it is a life’s journey after all.

    1. Thank you Alina. They certainly did walk their own road this time. I really need a project soon that responds to my whistles like the Von Trapp children in Sound of Music, something simple and straight forward which does what it is told (and hopefully I will contribute some sensible decisions as well)!

    1. Thanks Deborah. I have been thinking a bit recently about the culture of the online persona that edits out all the mistakes or messy bits. Since that is not particular real, I thought it more useful to share the actual wayward makings behind the finished articles.

  5. Your stranded knitting is beautiful and I like that you combined yarns from different sources. It looks like they worked well together for you.

    Ah, yes, I identified with your “plowing” into a knitting project without the planning you think it should have had. I am certainly guilty more often than not of doing the same thing. Don’t know what it is that makes this happen, perhaps it is the fingers that “creatively” want to get going before the mind kicks in. Hahahaha. As a result you do have a special cowl.

    I knitted up a pair of thumbed mitts with an intricate Aran cable on the back of the hand. When I was mostly finished with the second one, I discovered that I had made two right handed mitts – and I wasn’t going to tear one out because of the cable. So, had to make two left handed mitts to match and purchased more yarn. Ended up with a second pair to stash in a drawer when one pair wears out or gift away.

    1. Dear Marilyn, That is a great story about the mittens. Looks like they willed a whole other set into existence! Knitting certainly has a life of its own and mistakes generate new paths and directions.

  6. If you didn’t tell, no one would know!
    I could never imagine that those projects were intended to be something else. They are so beautiful even if you didn’t had in mind that result when you first started them.

    1. Thank you Zeta, you are very kind to say such things. It is just like your blog line says. “Knitting is like life: A work in progress”. These were definitely works in progress that changed direction in the middle.

  7. Whatever the trials, the knits look lovely. I particularly like the beret.
    Here is a bit of Wendell Berry on the comfort of small things:
    “Again I resume the long
    lesson: how small a thing
    can be pleasing, how little
    in this hard world it takes
    to satisfy the mind
    and bring it to its rest.”

    1. Dear Katherine, Thank you for Wendall Berry. This is such a perfect observation of the power and solace of small things.

  8. Sometimes the not-so-well-planned-project demands much creativity, but the results can be splendid like your beret, Rebecca.

  9. These are so beautiful. I like the beret especially. I completely empathise with this story of wishful thinking in the face of an over full mind. This is all too often what is going on for me, and all kinds of random things happen as a result!

    1. Dear Mary, Well I shall be reassured then, for if overfull minds can produce such beauty as you do, I shall not be cross with myself at all!

  10. That is a gorgeous crown finish, I love the patterning. Your previous post was really interesting, too. I don’t have the mental energy for a very thoughtful response at the moment, but I just wanted to say that I identify with your feeling of BEING one type of crafter vs. dabbling in another craft. I think the distinction has to do with a point of mastery or expertise, or maybe just frequency. I have made jewelry but do not consider myself a jewelry-maker, meanwhile even though I’ve never knit a colorwork item or finished a sweater (these represent a lack of experience that might preclude me from being considered an expert) I consider myself a knitter. Perhaps it’s to do with the curiosity level, or the level of motivation to eat/breathe/sleep one craft while to casually explore another.

    1. Dear Alicia, thanks for commenting on the previous post, it was a bit of a mental puzzler requiring a cup of tea and lie down afterwards! You put it very well, “being” vs “dabbling” and I really do think the curiousity factor is significant.

  11. Haven’t been ignoring you….just being slammed with baking etc etc
    Fun reading the comments…found out Marilyn F, my friend had to make 4 mittens…very funny. I really like the beret, wish I could wear a hat! Used to wear ‘marvelous’ ones when I lived in London and had hair almost down to my waist! Now? Not so much !!

    1. Thanks Susan, I too have the short hair but I like a beret. It makes me feel like have more stuff going on with my head…like hair! What are you baking? Is it the usual bread haul or festive baking? I am rolling gingerbread while the potatoes boil.

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