Reckless Knitting or Creative Process?


My knitting mojo has been seriously off lately. Unless it is a scarf or shawl, projects are not turning out as planned. Don’t believe me? I give you these examples.

The Baby Blue Cardi
Last May, I excitedly blocked each piece of this lovely sweater. I was eager to finish because I thought the light, lace summer cardigan would be perfect for an upcoming work trip. I added the button band and collar, and then I realized that things were terribly wrong. The sleeves were way too big for the tiny openings that were calling themselves armholes. And how did the back become such a completely different length than the front? I would like to say that I quietly tucked the pieces away in a Zen-like state of calm until I could deal with it more rationally, but the truth is that a huge temper tantrum ensued. The baby blue monstrosity is still waiting for me to come up with a solution:

blue cardigan
I swear, I followed the pattern.

The Wedding Shrug
When I found The Perfect Dress in Los Angeles, I knew I had to wear it to a The Wedding of The Year in November:

plaid dress
The Perfect Dress

Now, I’m not sure if you’ve been to Minnesota in November, but it is definitely not a time to wear short sleeves. In fact, I’m currently wearing three layers (one of which is an angora sweater) and I’m still cold. Late October, a voice started whispering in my ear that I should knit a sweater to wear with the dress. My knitting group talked me into a fitted shrug instead of a full sweater and thank goodness for that, because I have already frogged the nearly completed piece and just began again. I’m glad that I had the foresight to try said shrug on the dress form with The Perfect Dress before completing it (and that it wasn’t the night before The Wedding of The Year). My shrug was measuring in approximately 4 sizes larger than what I had intended. How did I not notice this during the knitting process? It’s a shrug. They always look small even when they are turning out ginormous.

The good news is that if I’m starting over with the smallest size, hopefully it will knit up twice as fast, right? Here’s to hoping, this will be my last chance to get it right because the first attempt was oh so wrong:

wedding shrug
The only thing that could make this shrug look worse was taking a picture of it with my phone – which is what I did.

The Chocolate Brown Cardi
This is a sweater that raised so many red flags during the knitting process, I don’t feel I can take the 100% of the blame for its outcome. The pattern called it a “fitted cardi” but I assure you, mine was nothing of the sort. I had a good 10 extra inches through the torso and the sweater sagged unflatteringly. The arms would have made a nice set of legwarmers, they were so big. The strangest occurrence with The Chocolate Brown Cardi was that when the extra large “fitted” cardigan was done, I still had half the yarn left that the pattern had called for. Um… what?

brown cardigan
Preparing for surgery.

I know what the knitters are thinking right now. “Is she not checking her gauge?” The answer is, sort of. I start checking my gauge and then feel like I’m close enough and times a wastin’ so I better get cast on already – and with The Wedding Shrug, that could not be more true. The other thing that I should mention, is that I’m getting better at fixing my botched efforts. A few months ago, I started trying to perform surgery on The Chocolate Brown Cardi. The yarn was nothing special, and I already couldn’t wear it in public, so I started trying to create a new sweater through sewing and cutting. My latest episode of playing Sweater Doctor seems to have resulted in a very appealing Chocolate Brown Cardi:

chocolate brown cardigan
Pardon the hat head, it’s cold in Minnesota right now.

So, at this point when my lackadaisical process seems to be paying off in the end most of the time, I don’t know if I will be able to bite the bullet and learn how to accurately get gauge at the beginning of the process. And tell me honestly, should you keep a girl from marching to her own drummer when she can perform sweater surgery? Isn’t that inhibiting her creative process? Personally I’m on the fence with that right now. There’s something appealing about living a little dangerously in regard to having The Wedding Shrug done in time. Will it fit? Will there be time to try a third time? Will I be racing around the mall crying, desperately searching for a sweater to wear the day before the wedding? I ask you, who would have thought so much risk and excitement could come from knitting?

As for the Baby Blue Cardi, I’m fairly confident that I’ll eventually come up with a solution for that. Trust me, it won’t be summer sweater season for awhile so I have time.

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By Heidi Van Heel
Heidi Van Heel

Heidi Van Heel

Writer, freelancer, and believer in magic living in Minneapolis. In my free time, I love reading, exploring the great outdoors, and experimenting in the kitchen.

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