Sunday, February 01, 2009

Knitting Slump

Now that it is over I will admit, I have been in a knitting slump. This is the first time this has ever happened to me. I'm usually thrilled to to be knitting a project from start to finish, while thinking about and planning the next, and maybe spinning for something still 3 or 4 projects away. I spend time knitting every day. At some point in August, my enthusiasm crashed. Multiple days went by in which I didn't knit. Not one stitch. I had no idea what the next project would be. I had a friend with a baby coming, but kept putting off choosing a pattern and buying yarn.

I'm not sure how the slump happened, but I think that this was a factor:

Although this sweater is actually finished, I'm dissatisfied with the results and therefore never took a finished photo. There are things I need to change about the fit, and honestly, it may just not be the right sweater to make with this yarn. The other problems are fixable with some fitting, pinning, and re-calculating, culminating in ripping out most of the sweater. Frustrating. Disheartening.

Then I started the baby clothes. Now, the pattern is super-cute, but somehow knitting it was less than satisfying. I blame this almost entirely on my state of mind going into the process, not on Debbie Bliss's cute pattern. However, for me there are several things about this pattern that are my less favorite things in knitting: flat knitting, sewing, and intarsia, which I keep doing because I see so many intarsia designs that I love, and it is only when I begin to knit them that I remember how much I hate the act of knitting intarsia.

I could have converted the pattern to be knit in the round. I often do, but for some reason thought it would be a bother this time. And yes, I do sew for a living, and teach other people to sew or sew better, so you may think that sewing shouldn't be on this list of stuff I dislike, but here's the thing: anything one does for 40+hrs per week, no matter how much one loves it, feels like work. Doing it in on ones time off feels like unpaid overtime. In addition to that, I think that knitting a garment piece by piece and then sewing it together misses one of the great things about how knitting structure differs from sewing structure. In knitting, one is making the fabric as one goes, and therefore is not limited to what can be done with flat pieces. One can make tubes and shapes and attachments as intrinsic parts of the fabric, instead of manipulating it later. Also, one can avoid the unnecessary bulk of extra seams. There is a great place in the dress where Ms. Bliss makes use of this by decreasing fairly severely in the row after the skirt is finished. The effect is of a skirt gathered and then sewn onto the bodice, but it is done skillfully all in one piece and without a bulky seam around the little one's middle. I often wonder if designers are asked by their publishers to write their directions for knitting several pieces flat instead of making use of knitting in the round and picking up pieces off of the main body, like picking up a sleeve around the finished armscye and knitting down circularly toward the cuff. If any published designers stumble across this, would you please share your experience in this matter?

Now that I've complained about the baby clothes, let me also say that I can credit them with helping to end the slump. Towards the end of the baby knitting, I did something I never ever do, which is to cast on a new project before the old is finished. I'm not sure exactly why I did it, except that I had an idea for writing a pattern and wanted to start working out how I would go about it. I worked some of it out on paper, but quickly needed to get onto the needles to finish thinking. I would like to make a square baby blanket for my cousin's baby on the way, in a feather and fan pattern, that radiates out from the center of the blanket. The yarn was a gift from the students in the first play last fall, and the colors are, I think, to my cousin's taste. The challenge is to increase rather often in a very regular lace pattern, and keep the increases in harmony with the overall pattern. I think it is quite successful so far, and hope to submit the pattern for publication or sell it through my still empty etsy shop. That bit of procrastination will need to be it's own blog post.

After getting the blanket far enough under way to solve the patterning, I finished the baby things, and boy are they cute. I'm so happy I made them, and really, I don't know why they were part of the slump. (Remember what I said about only remembering that I hate intarsia when I am doing it?)

And finally, thanks to the slump I purchased yarn and cast on for my mother's birthday socks way too late to have a hope of getting them done on time. Even the yarn harlot would have been hard pressed to manage that deadline, and she knits much faster than I do. Mom's socks are also an original design which I am very excited about and again, am hoping to submit for publication. The whole pattern is not yet visible in this pic (I keep ripping them out and knitting them bigger) but it is beautiful after a few repeats, and since these are knee socks they will feature some really clever shaping down the back of the leg.

These are the final proof that my mojo is back. I hope to make good use of it on Wednesday when I teach a group of friends how to knit a mobius scarf. All that time Dad spent showing my brother and me how to make mobius strips is finally paying off.


Susan said...

Those baby items are stunningly beautiful! Well worth the bother. I get into little knitting slumps from time to time. I think it's normal.

Ryan said...

Go! Knit! Go! Speak ill of sewing, though? *shaking head* Not that I'd want to do it 40 hours a week or anything.... =)

Rebecca said...

And I cannot wait for that mobius class! We are going to have so much fun:)