Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Knit Theory

I'm the kind of person who gets a kick out of making lists. Add to this my need for perfection and control, and you begin to get an idea of how totally oppressed my poor husband feels when it comes to regular household stuff like buying groceries and doing the dishes. Thankfully, I married someone who doesn't feel all that attached to keeping the house tidy, so I get to pretty much have my way about all that.

However, when it comes to knitting, these are not good attributes to have. As a beginner, I'm constantly making ill-advised choices and overlooking basic principles like gauge swatches and how colors will look together in a particular pattern. If I bother with a pattern in the first place, but that is a whole different skein of tangled wackiness.

For every new skill I develop, like felting or sock knitting, I attempt to make stuff up on my own. I knit and felted myself a hat, then I proceeded to knit and then felt a bag that could hold three large loads of laundry. The bag was supposed to be a large-ish purse. My first pair of socks looked great, except that they were way too big. Gauge swatch? What's that? And why would it matter that I'm using fingering weight yarn in a DK weight pattern. Yippee-ky-ay.

Slowly, I'm beginning to comprehend that there are laws, a la physics, to knitting, and that it won't matter how talented I think I am when I haven't bothered to do my homework properly. I'm trying to see that these laws are really a framework within which to be creative, and the limits placed by the choice between utter failure or tolerable sameness are to be endured while I explore my own lack of experience.

Of course, there is comfort in the fact that every time I make a rather obvious and dim mistake I'm guaranteed to never make the same one again. You see, I learn my lessons and in the process I'm learning what I would like to begin thinking of as "knit theory". Each fiber, each type of garment, each technique, has its own particular properties, but once properly comprehended, these laws will liberate me to explore whole new realms of fiber creativity.

And what will happen with the acquisition of all this knowledge and liberation? A lot of really ugly hats and weirdly shaped socks, most likely.

Post-posting note: I just noticed that I completely failed to tie in my original assertion about being a perfectionist with my later assertion that I've made some really screwed up knit items. So here it is: my control issues compel me to rewrite patterns or ignore them altogether, my inner perfectionist freaks out when the project turns out screwy, and my listing tendancy claims every graphic detail of the mistake and commits it to a log of things I can't seem to do right. Looks like I have some other issues, too. But let's not get into my uglier neuroses until a bit later.

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