10 January 2011

Ripped (out)

I have spent months letting potential blog posts drift across my mind like those zips at the bottom of cable news channels, adding a layer of ephemeral complexity to an already overcrowded prospect.

I am finally, though, moved to commit words to screen out of sheer frustration. After years of functioning as a reasonably competent knitter, I seem to be losing my ability to complete the simplest of tasks.

It began with these socks. Slippery Socks, from Knitty.com.

Slippery Sock

These were conceived as a house present for a friend who brought me to her country house last fall. (LAST fall. That would be 2009.) While I was there she admired, extravagantly, the hand-knit socks I was wearing. So what better house present could there be than a pair of socks, made in autumn-leaf colors to commemorate our weekend of "leaf-peeping?"

Now, I have been known to knock off a pair of socks in a matter of weeks. See my last post. I can even knit socks faster than I can photograph them, as evidenced by this image of a half-knitted, toeless sock that was actually completed six months ago and has been in regular rotation since.

Plane Socks

And these "leaf-peeping" socks were moving along swimmingly. Only, I realized, as I made my way up the leg of the first (toe-up) sock, that they might be a little big. I tried them on and realized that they were a little big ON ME, and would therefore be able to do double duty as a sleeping bag for my petite friend.

I responded as I usually do. I put the unfinished sock in the corner for a number of months, as punishment.

Some time THIS fall (we're talking 2010 now), I finally ripped it back to the toe and started a whole new sock in a whole new pattern: Leyburn socks, which I'd been wanting to make for a long time. (I liked the way the Slippery looked, but I found the pattern a little fiddly.)

"Peep" sock in progress

Well and good. Yet somehow, I ended up having to rip out these socks several times.
The first sock was too big, again. Ripped back, reknit. Then I started the second sock. Messed up the heel. Ripped back, reknit. Realized I had left out some pattern increases. Ripped back, reknit. Realized I had left those increases out of the first sock, too. Ripped back, reknit.

I got into a veritably manic state about these socks. I wondered if they would ever be finished, or if I would be condemned to continue knitting them for the next ten years.

"Peep" socks (Leyburn socks)

Finally, they're done. I think one of them is still too big. And the floats look awfully loose. They might benefit from a spin in the washing machine. But I have entered the "it's-the-thought-that-counts" stage. This represents a terrible loss of knitter's pride. Obviously I have reached a new low. But I did a great job on the packaging.

"Peep" socks, packaged

So, those socks are all ready to send off. And this weekend I was faced with the prospect of wrapping up other unfinished objects, and catching up on spinning. Logically enough, I woke up on Saturday morning suddenly inflamed - perhaps "consumed" is a better word - with the realization that I had, in my stash, the perfect yarn with which to make a sweater I've had my eye on: Debbie Bliss's Divided Front Tunic. Somehow it takes several weeks for ideas to percolate in the brain until the notion of "yarn-being-saved-for-sweater" and "sweater-I-want-to-knit" bump up against each other and prompt the chemical reaction that leads to immediate, willful casting on -- without even swatching. (Cue ominous music.)

I knit all Saturday morning. Then I calculated the yardage and realized that if I knit the pattern in the size I'd chosen, I wouldn't have enough yarn to finish.

So I ripped out my work from Saturday, and cast on again, one size smaller. Still without thinking to MEASURE what I'd ripped out.

By the end of Sunday, I had about 10 inches of the back. At which point I actually looked at it and thought it seemed generously proportioned, even for a loose-fitting garment. When I measured, I discovered that I was so far from getting gauge that my sweater was not a size M, but a size XXXL.

I will not let myself be defeated. I want to wear this sweater while the weather is still cold. So I am pledged, today, to rip it out again and hope that the third time is the charm.
But I long for the days when I simply sat down and knit, and made things that fit.


Shan said...

I cringed when I read that line about 'it's the thought that counts'...talk about a blow to the pride. I've had that happen, mostly with Christmas knitting - a How Have The Mighty Fallen kind of moment.

Nice to see you back.

rubbishknitter said...

awww bless! This sort of thing happens to me all the time, I have so many things that don't quite fit, and it's gutting when you've invested eleventy billion hours in the process of creation. Good to hear you haven't lost the urge to keep trying though. Bloody-mindedness is a valuable tool in the knitter's arsenal!

good luck with the sweater. love the super-cheerful rainbow socks!