Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Love/Hate Relationship (Amanda)

Note: I wrote this post a few days ago and just haven't had a chance to post it. I think it's sort of funny that Elizabeth is having a Love/Hate relationship with her Summer Tee right now....

We've all been there. The yarn is perfect--the perfect color, the perfect texture, just perfect. The pattern is fun to knit. Your gauge is right on. The finished garment is exactly right. You love it. You just *know* it's going to be your favorite sweater ever. Until you put it on. Once you have the garment on your body, all of your glowing pride sinks into the depths of dispair. Despite having exactly the right measurements and being the most wonderful color in the world, it just looks terrible on you. Now what?

The way I see it, you have three options:

1: Give it away to someone who will love it. Maybe this person is built differently than you. Or maybe they don't care how they look. Whatever the case, if you can find a good home for your creation, by all means, do it! Charities are an excellent way to get rid of your love/hate project.

2: Stuff it into a bag and hide it in the back of your closet. Sadly, I think too many knitters go this route when encountering the love/hate project. There's one very good reason not to do it: If your garment is knit with wool or other protein fiber, being stuffed in a bag and hiding in the back of your dark, quiet closet makes it the ideal treat for moths. The sweater has already caused you enough grief. Don't add to its (and your) misery by making it a moth motel. Better to just throw it in the trash.

3: Rip it out. Yes, the entire thing. The whole finished garment. Take out the seams and rip the whole damn thing out. This may sound extreme. I know. But stick with me on this. After all, if you enjoyed knitting the yarn the first time, you'll enjoy it just as much the second time....and without spending any more money!

Certain projects are better candidates than others for ripping out. If the yarn was very inexpensive or not of good quality to begin with, just go with #1 or #2. Ditto for mohair, eyelash and other "hairy" or heavily textured novelty yarns. They don't like to be ripped out. They don't hold up well under this kind of treatment. Just cut your losses and run.

Other projects are perfect for this. Smooth yarns. Expensive yarns. Yarns that you LOVE (expensive or not). Reclaiming an entire project's worth of yarn can be liberating. And it feels like shopping for new yarn without spending any money! Let's look at some examples, shall we?

This is a lace vest I knit in 2002. The yarn is a handpainted superwash wool from Morenna Woolen Goods which I purchsed at Fleece Fair. The yarn is soft and wonderful, and the photo really doesn't do it justice. I designed the vest myself. The finished vest was truly perfect. It blocked to the exact measurements I envisioned for it. I was so excited! Then I put it on. It was the most unflattering thing I've ever worn in my life. Really. The problem was not the vest, but the yarn. The yarn was too clingy and didn't have enough drape. If I had knit the vest in a cotton or cotton blend, it would have worked out great. But I didn't. I knit it in a relatively expensive handpainted wool. So, I laid out the vest, took pictures of it, and immediately ripped out the entire thing. The yarn is still in my stash. It has attempted to be other things in the last 5 years, but nothing has quite worked out. Someday, the perfect project will come along.

This is the Rambling Rows Jacket I made in 2005. The yarn is Noro Kureyon. 17 balls of it, to be exact. Laying on the floor like that, it's gorgeous, isn't it? The yarn compliments the pattern beautifully! But, can you see the problem? It's a box. It's a box with sleeves. This type of sweater is not flattering for an overweight person like myself. Add to that the fact that I have a bad habit of overestimating my size. I tend to knit things way to big for myself, and this jacket is a prime example. It was soooo huge. But, unlike the vest, I didn't rip out the jacket right away. I put it away, thinking that I'd come up with some way to fix it. By August 2006, I still didn't have a solution, so I spent the afternoon of my birthday ripping it out. It felt great! Now I have a lovely basket full of Kureyon sitting on a trunk in my living room. Someday, it will tell me what it wants to be. For a while, it thought it wanted to be a Babies and Bears jacket, but I think it changed its mind.

I also have a finished Bombshell from Big Girl Knits that I won't even show you. It's huge on me too. Once again, I overestimated my size. For those familiar with the pattern, you are saying, "But it says to try it on as you go so you won't make this mistake." Well, I was working on it last summer on our road trip to Niagara Falls, and it's very difficult to try something on while you are sitting in the passenger seat of a van. I know it's my own fault. The good news is that the yarn is an ideal canditate for ripping out (Cascade Sierra), and I won't have to rip out the entire thing, just back to the raglan shaping. There are a few other things about it I will change too--not just the size. A couple short rows here, a little added length there, and it should be just perfect.

The moral of the story: Not every project is perfect, even if it seems like it at first. Don't be afraid to take drastic measures to reclaim your yarn and your mental energy. You'll be glad you did. Also, remember that no project is a complete loss if you've learned something--either about knitting or yourself.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

What a funny topic. Good knits going bad must just be in the cosmic consciousness this week! You were so much braver than I--I didn't want to share a picture. But your knits that went bad really look so nice. They just weren't what you wanted. In fact your Rambling Rows is making me want to try one... But thanks for making me feel much better about my Terribile T! If I continue to document everything gone bad I think I will have a very long list here....