Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cables and other learning experiences

When I finished the last roll brim hat I said that while I was still loving the idea of knitting hats, I was just kinda sick of that pattern and needed a little break.

So I did this:

Actually, when placed in my traditionally prime photo location (the middle of my bed between two windows covered with old cheap sheers that filter sunlight perfectly) it doesn't really photograph well. So we'll step outside for a bit:

And this one didn't turn out quite as I expected, but you get the idea along with a different view:

I should mention that this was in fact, my first little venture into the vast world of cables. (Thank you, thank you - you're too kind). I learned quite a bit from this one small project, and I don't just mean how to work a simple cable cross, or a cable decrease.

As usual when working something up for the first time instead of drawing on my dwindling stash of better quality yarn, I used up some of the "charity yarn". This is not a derogatory term. The yarn was given to me, therefore - charity. And I use it up on projects like this and eventually donate the finished items to groups that actually prefer that the items not be wool. (Yes, they do exist.) For the second time - charity. Get it? Good.

Anyway, this particular yarn was not nice. And by not nice - I mean that it fought back. The label proudly declares it to be "100% Acrylic!" and I'd have to agree. I am far from being a yarn snob, I know acrylic has come a long way in the past few years, there are now man-made yarns that are almost indistiguishable from natural fibers. But this ain't one of those. This yarn is older acrylic, and most certainly did not mellow with age. Unlike my beloved Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride, it did not slide smoothly across the bamboo needles, it had to be shoved and pulled with every few stitches. It even, well...kinda "squeaked" if you know what I mean. Just as I started, the center of the skein sort of collapsed and barfed out a messy tangle of yarn that had to be dealt with every few rows. Obviously I should have taken that as an omen that this yarn was going to be a troublemaker. (And really, what good can you say about a skein that can't hold its yarn?) But I soldiered on and I am glad that I did not let the crappy yarn get the best of me. And just 'cause it copped such an attitude (and because I am not keeping the hat) I think it's getting a pom-pom on it. So there! Take that!

This project also taught me another unique and special lesson, one that all knitters must learn eventually I suppose. The somewhat painful, and occasionally time-consuming, experience of finding an actual mistake in the pattern. Once a pattern is published in a book, the knitter should be able to trust that it is correct. But that is not so - we know better. This is where the errata section on the author or publisher's web site comes in. There is no guarantee that every single pattern was actually tested and worked up by an actual, real live knitter before the book was put to print. And that seems like such a basic simple part of the process doesn't it? Shoot - you could practically bribe knitters to do it for you with a few extra skeins of yarn and advance copies of the book. And yes, I am aware that as a recovering perfectionist I might be just a tad biased on this subject - but geez - wouldn't you want to be sure it was right before you put it out there on the shelves of bookstores across America, and more importantly, into the hands of knitters around the world?

I'm just sayin'.


NH Knitting Mama said...

I totally agree. Don't like when there are mistakes in the pattern!

The hat is cute - congrats on cables!

Logan said...

Nice job!