Sunday, January 2, 2011

A lesson in humility

Happy New Year! Here's to another year of togetherness and fiberlicious fun!

I have been knitting for decades. I can't even remember a time when I didn't knit easily. Therefore, while there are many patterns that I find challenging, it usually only takes me a few tries to figure it out. In some cases, I was misunderstanding what was intended and in other cases, the pattern was wrong. Therefore, I approach knitting with confidence and maybe a sense of arrogance. Until now...

The designer of this scarf says "This is a very challenging knit for someone unfamiliar with brioche knitting. It uses 2-color brioche and reversible increases and decreases. I would advise first downloading the free BEBEB scarf pattern to practice 2-color brioche knitting before purchasing this pattern.". I read that. I also have knitted 2-color brioche - I made a 2-color hat knit in the round as my very first brioche knitting project. It has increases and decreases. I have also knitted a whole garment in brioche knitting - with increases and decreases. Therefore, I wasn't too concerned about the scarf.

I even thought I could knit it while traveling. I knocked that off the list pretty quickly when I discovered that I had to spread out the pattern while beginning. This was not very practical on the train or plane. So I waited till I was at my aunt's house in Bengaluru before I started it. I spread the pattern on the bed and curled up to begin. And I cast on, and ripped, and cast on and ripped and cast on and ripped. First I ended up with 35 sts after casting on with 36. Again and again. Then I tried casting on with 37 and ended up with 37. Persistence and obstinacy are my middle names and so I kept at it. I eventually figured out why I was losing that 1 st.

Then I learned that what I thought was meant by an abbreviation is not exactly what someone else means by that very sequence of words. sigh Rip... The next problem was that the 2 colors I was using can be very close at times. So I was getting them mixed up. sigh Rip... After that I mixed up the knit and purl rows. sigh Rip Fortunately, each of these failures only meant that I was ripping out a few rows at a time. Eventually, I was well on my way to getting through the first repeat of the pattern. Yay!

Pride comes before a fall.... I thought I could now work on it on the plane trip back. So I packed it in my carry-on baggage. bad move The security guard at Dubai airport decided to inspect my needles and pulled a bunch of the sts off the needles. Plus I lost one of my lovely Holtz and Stein ebony needles along the way. sigh I wasn't far enough along to attempt to fix the problem on the plane. The issue with brioche knitting is that it looks like a mess at first. It takes a few rows before you get to the point where you can see what is going on. Rip

But all's well that ends well. I got past those problems. I am now even repairing dropped sts along the way without ripping. And therefore ta-da!

Here is the variegated side of the scarf. Isn't it pretty?
And the solid side....
It isn't blocked and therefore it is a little wonky. It is a pretty easy knit once you get the hang of the pattern. You have to keep track of where you are and make sure you aren't dropping sts on the decreases where you are working with 4 sts at once. But other than that, it is fun and I'm quite happy with the results. The colors are not me but the yarn is soft and warm. It will make someone a lovely scarf.

And it got me back into knitting in a big way. I am enjoying knitting again and I have high hopes for 2011! The morals of this story are what I tell my students all the time:
  1. Don't be afraid to rip. Each time you do that, it is a learning experience yeah right..
  2. Don't assume. Read the instructions and the abbreviations.
  3. Pay attention to your knitting
  4. Be confident. It is just knitting. You can figure it out. There is nothing too hard in knitting.


Thérèse said...

Brioche may be bad for the waistline but it's definitely good brain food! Lovely - this scarf is on my list too, after I finish Geveldak.

Elysbeth said...

I like #4... it's just knitting. Sometimes it feels like negotiating detente, but it's just knitting! Engaging, exasperating, educational.