March 30, 2006

THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS

In Fall of '04 I took a class on color theory taught by Peg McNair, a local weaver with a national reputation. I remember Peg talking about the creative process, and saying that when we get stuck on a project that's not turning out as we thought it would, we have a tendency to want to put the project away in a drawer. The work troubles us or revulses us, and we don't want to look at it any more since it holds up to us our own shortcomings. Peg does not think this response is helpful.

"You should leave your project out where you can pass by it several times a day," she said, "so that you are constantly stimulating yourself with it." And, she promised, the next step that we should take on the project would occur to us, and sooner than if we had put it away where we couldn't see it.

Remembering this advice, I've kept my Level 2 vest on the windowseat in my bedroom. I see it every time I'm in the hallway anywhere near my bedroom; I see it before I go to sleep at night, and it's one of the first things I see each morning. Seeing it as often as I have, I've grown rather fond of it, even as I see places where it could be improved.

The vest is 19-1/2 inches long, and 252 stitches around. I knitted 19 inches of that vest, and not until we were on the plane coming home from Florida and I was power-knitting to finish off the shoulders did I see this coming (these photos are a birdseye view from the top of the shoulder):

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That circled half of a snowflake on the back of the vest does not match up with

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this circled half of a snowflake on the front of the vest.

So I had knitted along, 19 and more inches of vest over a period of months, and it surprised the hell out of me when I got to those last couple of rounds and discovered that my snowflakes were offset by a few inches.

They did not line up because I in my wisdom naivete, way back when I started this vest, chose to use an odd number of repeats of the snowflake pattern. Given the gauge I was working, 8 repeats of the pattern would have been too small, and 10 would have been too large, but 9 was just right.

Had I used 8 or 10 repeats, though, my half-snowflakes would have met and made one continuous snowflake over the top of the shoulder. It would have been a beautiful thing.

Experience is a powerful teacher, isn't it?

So seeing that vest laid out on the windowseat has given rise to lots of musing on my part about principles of good composition. Just as a drawing can be well composed, just as a short story can be well composed, just as a plaid dress can have its plaids matching at the seams -- so, too, can a piece of knitting be well composed.

So I'm choosing to knit the vest over, in order to have a shoulder seam where the motifs match, front and back; also to improve a couple of other minor points in the knitting. By going down to 8 pattern repeats and going up one needle size, I'll have a gauge that will fit and snowflakes that will match.

(Quite frankly I do not know whether the Master Knitting Committee would pass the prototype vest, or not, with the motifs not matching at the shoulders. But when I see so very clearly that the prototype can be made better, I'm choosing to reknit it.)

In Two Swans Yarns news: Four just-published patterns are hot off the presses and newly listed on the Two Swans site, two from Fiber Trends and two from Knitting Pure & Simple:

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Diamonds for Rhiannon, a baby blanket designed by Bev Galeskas. (I got in the baby yarn for this item, too.)

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And Evelyn Clark gives us another great lace pattern, Lupine Lace Socks, using your favorite sock yarn and mine, Lorna's Laces.

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A cardigan for men, knitted from the top down. (This pattern has lots of adjustments for width and length.) Shown in the picture is a zippered front closure, but the directions also include a buttonband front closure.

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A wrap-front cardigan, also knitted from the top down. (I've always wanted to make a ballerina sweater like this, and I've had a Jaeger pattern for one in stash for years -- I suspect this Knitting Pure & Simple one will be much easier to knit.)

And, just for fun, a pattern that isn't new on the market but one that tickled me to find and bring in to my store:

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The April Fools Socks! This is a design by Lisa Parker, who also designed what's been a very popular pattern at Two Swans, the Wildhorse Farms Gansey Socks.

Posted by Karen at March 30, 2006 08:34 AM
Comments

I love your vest and I would not have even noticed that the snowflakes didn't match up. Of course, I'm not a master knitter either. :-)

Posted by: Jewel at March 30, 2006 10:48 AM

I wouldn't have noticed either, but I'm impressed that you're going to do it over. It makes sense to me. It would always bother you that they're not lined up.

I wish I could see the Fiber Trends socks more clearly. The eyes are getting old . . .

Posted by: Patti at March 30, 2006 06:55 PM

Your vest is beautiful, and I admire your determination to make it be the very best that it can be. It will truly be an accomplishment.

Posted by: Melanie at March 31, 2006 08:02 AM