Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More Mania

I'm still feeling the knitting restlessness I wrote about last time. I'm working actively on, to a greater or lesser degree, four or five projects. The newest ones I've started are a pair of socks, and a shawl made out of this rayon chenille yarn I bought last year on the Wool Arts Tour:

I started the shawl at least three times, trying to find a pattern that works well with the yarn. Here's the one I finally decided on: Eyelet Lace Shawl. It seems to be working well. I'm not sure about the fringe, though. I've made this shawl twice before, with regular worsted-weight yarn, and the fringe worked fine. But with boucle...not sure. I might try a knitted-on ruffled edging.

That scares me a little, though. While I consider myself an experienced knitter, having been knitting for 48 years or so, I don't mess with patterns much. Oh, I tend to add inches to a sweater front/back to make it long enough for me, but I rarely change the pattern details. The first time I tried something like that was when I changed the way the edging was knitted on the Autumn Entrelac Shawl. It came out well, but it was scary.

I'm in perpetual awe of those of you who can take a pattern, pull it apart, and change it to suit yourselves. Is it experience that allows you to do this, or self-confidence, or something else? Inquiring minds want to know!

3 comments:

Jen said...

There is a level of confidence involved. It comes with practice, familiarity with your tools and techniques, and an understanding of how the knit stitch works, how decreases and increases alter the shape, what short rows can do, etc.

It's like with cooking. You can eat at a restaurant or buy a frozen dinner - these are the people who would go to the store and buy a knit sweater.

You can follow a recipe as written and get a predictable result. These are the people who knit a pattern without altering it.

As you get better, you might start modifying the recipes. This is the level you described, being able to extend the length of a sweater with confidence.

Or, as you come to understand cooking techniques and ingredients well enough, you can go into the kitchen, pull a seemingly random assortment of items from the cupboards and fridge, and make a fantastic meal out of thin air, just making it up as you go. These are the knitwear designers, the Elizabeth Zimmermanns, and all those folks who learned how to just cast on and get to the end of the project without having written directions.

I'm somewhere between "modifying the recipe" and Elizabeth Zimmermann, I think. Yeah, I've designed a few projects, but they're all tiny. I can wing it with some certain types of things, like simple shawls. I have modified sweaters with simple structures, even changing how some pieces were knit to make the project work better for me.

Keep knitting, you'll get there. Just be willing to step in and experiment!

Elizabeth Delisi said...

What an interesting way of describing it! Thanks, Jen.

I understand how those things work, in general. But don't know, for example, the difference in height/width ratio between garter stitch and stockinette, or how to decrease at the correct angle to get a triangle shape with all the right angles, etc. Sounds like math class to me, which I snoozed through! Hah.

Anyway, as I continue knitting, I suppose I'll get braver as I go along.

Liz

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