Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Crafting to a new level of perfection

After years of knitting, spinning, sewing (I'll stop there, the list could go on and on), with the attitude 'Shrug, that's good enough', I have decided that maybe it really isn't. Lately I have been looking at just what makes the difference between good enough, and amazingly impressive.

This started, as most of my musings do, with a conversation with my daughter about certificates of excellence (known as COE's). These are awarded to a select few that are judged in whatever area they work in and the judging seems to be set to select those that come as close to perfect as they can. The process that the person goes through, in attempting to reach perfectionism, is suppose to teach them so much, that they are then ready to teach others what they know.

I know myself well enough to know I would soon be frustrated by the process, and would not have the patience to redo something over and over again, to reach that near perfect skein or swatch. My enjoyment comes from the first time I do something. Even knitting, repetitive by nature, is still very engaging the first time through a new pattern. And I may go all the way through that pattern and not make a 'mistake'. So is it perfect then? Well not if the gauge is incorrect for what I want to create. Not if the fabric created is too flimsy for the project in mind. The over and over again perfectionism in knitting comes into play trying to be perfect in each area. That's why one hears a few times that someone knit a sweater or socks and they 'fit perfectly'. Only a few times indeed.

This of course is one side of the see saw. The other is the total lack of concern about any of the knit stitches you make. The project will be whatever it will be. I have never been comfortable with that extreme either. However, I lose out on many chances to be very creative, or artistic, or innovative, by staying off that side of the see-saw.

I am reminded of the song, 'Stuck in the Middle with You'.

For years I have been crafting in that middle state. I am skilled in many areas, what I make looks good and holds up well, and yet it is not at a level that could be judged as outstanding. I have always said about my work, that my dream would be that it would end up in a museum someday in the future. I can not see that happening yet.

So this long ramble, is all to say that I have starting crafting with a new eye on the details. Ah yes, life is in the details, it is said. Was every stitch knitted at the same tension, was the pattern correct, did I really want it this size? It will slow me down, and I already craft at a snail's pace. But in truth, it's all about the process, right?

I am not sure I will be able to blog about my progress with this slide to perfect. It's not something easily put into words. It's an attitude adjustment, a change that makes me say 'Hmm, maybe that's not just good enough'. But the fun side of all of this comes from that old adage, practice makes perfect. Oh boy, another excuse to knit.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Knitting until it fits

Before I get into the main reason for the blog post, here is a picture of my current success.

These are two socks on two circs and I am very happy with how the whole process went. I did a pair this way two years ago, but felt it was too fiddly and went back to knitting with DPN. However at the retreat three weeks ago, my knitting buddies got me going on this pair and it all has gone much easier the second time around. I even turned the heels with the circs instead of removing the sock and doing it on DPN. So I have both heels turned, and the socks should be done by the time I go on vacation at the end of the month. The pattern is called the snake scale sock (SSS) because the stitch K2, YO, K2, pass YO over the K2, puts a bar of yarn on the front of the two stitches. The overall effect looks like scales. The yarn is Reynold's Swizzle, in a deep green with occasional stripes.

So the main reason for the title of this post is a sizing problem on the sweater I am knitting. The white sweater on the top is the FLAK aran I have been knitting for my hubby. The sweater below it, is the sweater he gave me as an example of a comfortable sweater to wear. My goal is to add on the necessary knitting, to make the aran the same size as the example sweater. I have knitted on the FLAK off and on all year, and I definately want a sweater that he will wear for many years. That makes all of this fuss worth the effort.

You can see by this photo, that the sweater width and even the sleeve width are too narrow. The length of the sleeves is not a concern, because I stopped knitting on them when I realized there was a problem in sizing. I just have to continue on the sleeve until I reach the correct length.

Here's a close up of the FLAK sleeve on top of the comparison sweater. It shows just how narrow the sleeve ended up. Also if you look under the arm, you can see how much I need to add to the width of the sweater.

I have been thinking about this problem the whole time I finished the back. It may not be obvious, but the sweater has been knitted flat, not circular. That means the whole length under the arm and down the sides is open. I took measurements while the sweater was on the example sweater, and I am ready to attack the problem.

I plan to start under one arm with DPN and pick up as many stitches as I can without causing a bump. It may only be three or four stitches, that will get increased rapidly over the next three or four rows, until I have a total of 2" needed for the width of the sleeve. Then I will knit back and forth, and work my way down the inside of the sleeve, knitting each side of the sleeve together with this increase piece to close the seam. I can not really call this piece a gusset, since it will run down the entire length of the sleeve. I doubt there is a name for what I am doing, it is entirely outside of the original pattern, and certainly not in any normal sweater knitting. I _should_ have knitted the sleeve the correct size to begin with, but I refuse to frog this and start over, or give it away to someone tiny when I worked so much intention into it as being my hubby's sweater!

Once I reach the bottom of the sleeve, I will pick up all stitches around, and add length to the sleeve, ending finally in a ribbing.

The sides of the sweater will be basically the same plan. I need a total of three inches on each side and I will add that as a piece that runs down the side and closes the seam at the same time. When I get to the bottom on both sides, I will pick up the whole sweater on a large circ needle and finish in ribbing. That will leave just adding a small amount of ribbing around the V neck and I will call it done!

I truly want this done for him by cool weather. One of course so he can wear it, but mostly for me. I am so over knitting on this sweater, and want to go on to something lacy! For me!