Sunday, February 24, 2013

Teacher, What did you learn on your snow days?

Note for non-knitters:  Frogging and frog pond are not terms I created. Frogging is knitting jargon for the process of pulling needles out of all stitches and then tugging on the yarn to rip out a knitted piece. Rip it, rip it, rip it sounds like the ribbit, ribbit, ribbit of frogs. Frogging is faster than tinking back. Tink, knit spelled backwards, is undoing one stitch at a time. It is more tedious but sometimes necessary when repairing mistakes in textured or lace knitting.

During the two snow days last week, I ripped out an entire winter's worth of knitting.  I learned some worthwhile lessons from the frog pond.

1. Although knitting cardigans in one piece is tempting, patterns with more structure suit me better.  Seaming sweater pieces takes time but is not something I will actively avoid in the future.  Even when knitting sweaters in one piece, button bands and some sort of ribbing or edging give a garment more structure and fit.

 Greenfield Cardigan:  When I tried on the body of the sweater, the bottom rippled, the neckline sagged off my shoulders, and the fronts drooped. The leaf motif in the bottom front corners puckered. This pattern make work well for others but I prefer a more fitted sweater. I ripped the entire piece out and saved the yarn for future inspiration.  

2. There are no knitting police. Although the designer intended for one edge of the Deephaven Cowl to curl, I prefer two finished flat edges. I ripped out 8 inches of the cowl and started over with a pattern modification and one size larger needles. Larger needles make the tension in the stitches more comfortable for my hands and wrists. Before casting on the cowl, I tried to knit a vest with the "Prairie Silk" yarn by Brown Sheep. Even though I was knitting the yarn for the third time, it felt as if it had never been used. Brown Sheep Company no longer manufactures this yarn which is all the more reason to savor knitting the cowl. I hope to have enough yarn to make a matching pair of mittens.  

Deephaven Cowl by Blue Peninsula Designs


3. I need to learn more about shaping shawls by adjusting short rows. While knitting Twig and Leaf Shawl, I knew I'd run out of yarn before I came to the end of the project. In order to compensate, I increased the the length of short rows by one stitch. Doing this on enough rows to use 400 yards of yarn made an extremely long but narrow crescent shape garment that was neither shawl nor scarf.  I'm sure if I had knit the shawl in lace weight instead of fingering weight AND shaped the shawl as the pattern directed, the result would have been beautiful. The mistake is not the designers but mine. The yarn is too pretty to waste so I  ripped it all out and cast on another scarf.

Shallows by Blue Peninsula Designs

4.  Bonnie Sennot, the designer of Blue Peninsula Knits writes an artistic blog.  Her photos and posts are as lovely as her knitwear designs. The blog is inspiring in any weather.

5. Ripping out a winter's worth of knitting wasn't nearly as painful as I anticipated. In fact it is rather freeing. Now, I don't have to soldier on with projects that aren't going to have good results.  I'm just getting more enjoyment for the same amount of yarn money.

6. Knitting is both process and product. This winter my knitting was about process. I wonder if I could be as philosophical about my writing pieces and process. Both require practice, patience, and persistence. The finished products can be lovely and inspiring or frumpy and frustrating. Sometimes yarn is better suited to a soft scarf than a shawl. A piece of writing that begins as an essay ends up as a poem. While editing improves all writing, there are times when it is best to begin again.  

7. Snow day lessons are as tricky as the weather in Nebraska. As an example Storm Q which was predicted to bring as much as 18 - 20 inches dropped six inches instead.