Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You can't always get what you want...

Dedicated readers of this blog know that one of my Big Themes is that of frustration. Knitting even the simplest item requires a certain vigilance, and there are so many variables factored into the maelstrom between start and finish that results can never be duplicated exactly. This is also the beauty of knitting, because uniqueness and surprise are in the final product.

Frustration takes many forms. It appears as dismaying results when following a pattern, requiring the knitter to rip out repeatedly or throw up her hands or, as I often do, put the damned thing aside until I have regained my composure (often a matter of months). Frustration develops from the way a yarn knits up because it isn't as nice looking as you'd hoped, or the colors seem off when viewed in natural light, or from the nervous apprehension that even though you swatched before starting the sweater and the gauge seemed correct, the knitted fabric appears too large or too tight. (This generates speculative bets, like "if I lose only ten pounds, I'll probably be able to wear this cardigan, though I might not be able to button it, but anyway it will look good casually hanging open.") Frustration may develop simply because the project is taking way longer than you expected, and there are other things you want to do with your life.

My friend Joan, a loyal knitting comrade (it was she who accompanied me to the Bristol Yarn and Fibre Expo last year, as well as to Wild and Wooly in Lexington, MA and The Island Yarn Company in Waltham, MA, chronicled on earlier posts of this blog), lives, as you may have already surmised, in Massachusetts. Specifically, in that metro-Boston suburban paradise, Weston. (Which is how we met, because our sons attended Weston High in the 1990s. Yes, friends, Weston was my home from 1991-2001, and I am grateful for its many advantages, especially the splendid public schools and library, the nature trails, the community farm, and the idyllic public swimming pool. I do not, however, miss its compulsive competitiveness and pernicious displays of conspicuous consumption.) ANYWAY, Joan is a superb knitter, and some months ago undertook a project that caused her great frustration, but she stuck it out and succeeded.

Herewith a photo of her Frank Lloyd Wright afghan (shown on a blocking bed of glamorous bath towels), a kit purchased from Knitpicks (, and her observations:

Frank Loyd Wright Inspired by Knitpicks.  12 pages of directions.. and colors much prettier than photo on pattern. ... made this a tour de force of determination.    I learned to mitre and pick up a million stitches. Instead of "48" square, mine came out more like a lap robe  at "39".  Am I a tight knitter or was it the cheap Susan Bates needles that kept catching?    The alpaca suri dream is supposed to stretch but in tight knit fashion I then messed up bind off refusing to revisit that Zen of knitting, the redo.

These are the words of a true knitting heroine, one who persevered until everything came out right, more or less.  Congratulations, my dear!

And while I'm on the subject of Knitting Heroines, Deborah Newton will be giving a talk to the Knitters Guild at Slater Mill on Wednesday, April 28th, at 6.30 pm.  The topic is Cable Knitting and Designing.  Here's the link to the flyer:

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