Friday, September 21, 2012

Knitting projects gone bad

This hasn't happened in some time, but I'm familiar with this process. It's not pleasant to live through, but we knitters and crocheters all have to do it sometimes.

It goes like this. I'm all excited for a new project. I happily get the yarn and needles or hook out from my stash, along with the pattern. I do a little happy dance. There's nothing quite like the smell and anticipation of new yarn.

I set up my end table with my supplies, and dig in. If I'm being a very good girl, I produce a gauge swatch, although I usually live dangerously rely on previous work as a precise measure of my gauge. I then cast on. Things go well. For a time. Pretty soon, I notice an error.

Now, all crafters make errors. Not all of them take them as personally as I do.  A brave (and sane) crafter can admit that she is not perfect, add or decrease a stitch or what have you to make up for the error, and move on with her life, considering the experience a "design element" that enhances the product's appeal as handmade. Sometimes I can do this. Usually, I can't. It'll just eat away at me, mocking me every time I look at the damn thing. If I feel like I just can't live with it, I'll rip back or start over, making me extremely cranky in the process. If I feel like I can live with it, I'll knit two together and move on, but it will continue to bother me for the lifetime of the project, hence making me cranky anyway. As you can see, this is pretty much a lose/lose.

But on I press, because I just love the looks of the finished object. The picture of it on the pattern, at least. *My* work-in-progress is not really resembling the picture on the pattern but I am determined that I will make it as close a facsimile as possible if it kills me. So I knit on.

Soon, I come to a section in the pattern that I find confusing. I'm a librarian, I'm resourceful, so I go online. I pull up the pattern page on Ravelry, look at the gallery of items that other knitters have made. I read their notes, I take note of any errata. I may even locate the designers web page (stalker) to see if I can glean further information. Then I look at the pattern again while pressing my fingers to my forehead to make my brain work better.

I figure it out. Or, at least I *think* I do. I knit on and it quickly becomes clear that I still have no bloody idea what I'm doing. I may or may not knit backwards so that I can correct the error. But I've figured out the problem, so I'm happy. Now that I got through that problem spot, I'll be able to complete the project.

Until I hit the wall again. There's more frantic Ravelry consultation, more forehead pressing, perhaps an ibuprofen popped. There will almost certainly be swearing. There will be angry stuffing away of my project and firm handling of the yarn.

I HATE the project, but I'm not willing to give up yet. After all the time I've invested, I want my freaking pair of leaf socks. Oops, we've ventured over from the hypothetical into the reality, but there you have it. My leaf socks and I are at an impasse. It's charts confounded me, my center leaf is all jacked up, but STILL I thought I could make it work. I mastered the smaller leaves, and even though the edges of the instep are all loose and wonky, my leaves looked decent. I continued to knit them, slogging away with my cable needle and a bad attitude because I *really* wanted those socks.

Until I hit the heel. The heel, my friends, is my undoing. I've knit many socks, but all from the cuff down. These are from the toe up, and hopefully not all toe-up socks are this awful, but the heel of my falling leaves sock looks like a small testy animal chewed it up and spit it out. It's AWFUL. And STILL I did not abandon the project, because I'm such a glutton for punishment.

Until I rejoined in the round for the leg. I have to then continue the pattern all the way around, and you know what? I HATE THE PATTERN. The thought of cabling another one of those stupid little leaves depresses me and makes me want to break my wood double pointed needles out of spite just so that I have an excuse not to work on them anymore. And this is just sock #1! Casting on for another one of those fiddly toes again?! Navigating the center leaf chart again which took all my concentration and an advanced degree just to figure out the numerous charted symbol combinations?!

UGH. No sir. This is supposed to be *enjoyable* and *relaxing*. My sock is still stuffed intact inside my knitting bag, but I have a feeling that it's going to go to the big yarn pile in the sky this weekend. Clearly, I need a new pattern. I love the yarn, and I want socks made from it, so why torture myself? I should love the socks, not want to dismantle them piece by piece just to see them suffer.

I'm feeling porky about the whole thing. I need a happy knitting project to cleanse my palate. Perhaps crochet, just to switch things up. But the falling leaves are about to fall right back into a yarn ball. So sad for them.

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