Monday, March 28, 2011

Knitting, sewing, crocheting and true love

There are days when knitting, or just about any craft or task that requires some creativity (and almost all do), is a sheer struggle from the very beginning to the very end. One questions every single step, doubts even the tiniest of choices and might even end up mocking the outcome, if not in one´s words then at least in one´s thoughts. I know that it is possible to be too hard to oneself but then on the other hand, it is good and even necessary to be critical. At times (not always) I treasure errors because they make me work hard and I love problem solving. Always, in every single case of a succesful design or other good outcome, there has been more work done than you see here. What you see here is just a tip of an iceberg.

There is lots going on behind the scenes almost all the time. I regularly try my hand at drawing, sewing, knitting and now in crochet too (sadly weaving is on hold). The other night we were having friends for dinner and I was preparing a demanding meal and my husband kept me company in the kitchen and admired my work. I thanked him for the compliment and replied that if you had been making as many mistakes as I have, you would do the same. He said that he had not realized this because he has enjoyed most of his dinners. Me again, that I don't serve the mishaps to you, nor anyone if I catch them in time! They go straight to the compost and then I either make something else or take the mishap as a challenge and try again. It is the mistakes that make me analyze my work and analyzing makes it better. The truth is that there are only few works I have done during my entire life that I have been completely satisfied with, if any.

I don't know if you remember when I knit Margaret, the beautiful cardigan from the Mason Dixon book Outside the Lines. I documented quite a lot of the process and of the mistakes but I did not tell you then that there was yet another mishap there along the way. I had forgotten about it until today when I went stash diving. There was a paper bag of yarn tugged away and since I could not remember what there was, I peeked inside the bag and found the remains of the very first Margaret. It is back into skeins now but it was almost completed Margaret in burgundy color. It had taken me of knitting almost the whole garment to realize that I did not like the yarn, the outcome was too heavy and the hem was stiff.

I am bringing this up because I just finished a mitten a yesterday of which I am very happy with it.


(I did not say that I am satisfied with all the aspects.) When casting off I thought to myself how easy the process was this time... That is what I thought until my eyes wandered off and saw beginnings of another mitten resting on my desk; a mitten very much like the one I just completed, knit in red.


I was knitting it just a few days ago and had already forgotten the whole matter. So really, this mitten did not grow out of knitting magic, there was some work and thought behind it, and some ripping too because I did not get the lace part right the first time, nor the second, and not even the third time. I think it took me half a day to get it just right, the cast on edge, the number of stitches, the yarn choice and the needle size. But while working on the lace, I discovered a new cast on method. Discovering something new is such a treat!



So why do I think that some work I do is a struggle from the very beginning, and then at the same time I think that some work sort of grows together without any laboring pains like this mitten, while it really is not true at all. I don't know the answer. Could it be that at times the thought is more mature in my head and I will just go and make it having to deal with only the making process and its choices while at other times the thought process is not yet done and I will need to make up my mind at every single crossroad beginning from the designing process. Could it have something to do with the size of the outcome? Could it be that at times I am not willing to admit that there is a problem and just stubbornly plough ahead and at the same time I keep listening to the nagging voice in the back of my head pointing out the problem and ignoring the voice becomes such a task. I know I am very stubborn, but I had not realized that I was so stubborn that I could ignore my own advice!!


So what has been going on here that I feel comfortable sharing? (All the errors cannot be public, if I had to make all my work visible, it would totally freeze me. While some mistakes can be shown, others are better to be kept secret, I'd rather hide them from myself too.) There has been some sewing. I made these little pouches last week (pattern from u-handbag). It took me three tries to get it just right, but now I know what I am doing and what I need to pay attention to while making them and I am going to make more. Two owls were born, pattern from the lovely Moonstitches.




This is a knitting bag I made for my shawls (my own pattern). I did thorough thinking beforehand and am mostly satisfied with the first bag although I have cut the pieces for the second bag with a few minor improvements. I truly like the ends of the strings.





I have been crocheting a bit too. At least three squares have been ripped out and here I have two remaining and I am not sure whether to continue or to rip these two also and make something else.


And then finally there has been lots of error in the field of mitten knitting because I am preparing workshops for Knitnation! I am thrilled to be part of this Knitting Expo in London this coming July! My classes will be the Rovaniemi mittens and the Korsnäs crochet. This new blue mitten is done using the Rovaniemi mitten technique.

The sky is lovely blue at the moment, not a single cloud in the vicinity. The temperature is still -17C! I'm writing this very early in the morning. It is not quite spring yet, but we are getting there. This has been cold winter, we have had more than one hundred consecutive below-freezing days. They say that the ground has frozen way over two meters in depth. I am beginning to doubt if it will ever melt again. Which really makes me wonder if I should get serious with sock knitting again. Maybe not, because I am truly inspired by mittens at the moment.

Have a good week and wool with you as always,

Lene

Oh, I almost forgot the true love part. (I took these pictures with my phone,)


32 comments:

  1. I really love your blue and white mitten! The perfect combination of colours and lace. Is it your own pattern? I'd love to try it myself...

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  2. Beautiful mitten! The lace is really pretty.

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  3. Lene all of these things are STUNNING! I particularly like the bags and the owls. I have always admired and loved reading about your careful attention to detail - and the decisions you make about the smallest part.

    I was in 2 minds whether to go to Knit Nation but you hav decided me - if I can get onto on of your classess I will be there. It will be lovely to meet you.

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  4. Wonderful to hear from you. Thank you for sharing so much about your design process, the making of mistakes and learning from them. That's so important, but it takes such patience and strength to say, "this isn't coming out how I want it, so I'll do it over." Way too easy to say, instead, "oh, it's really not that bad, I can live with it" only to find out later that you can't! Spring is slow to come here, too, but the days are longer and that does help. And oh, if only my cat and dog got along as well as yours!

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  5. And true beauty - LOVE that mitten!

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  6. I am not a designer like you, but I do find that I am stubborn! I just completed Jared Flood's Bridgewater. I knew from the first garter stitch rows that I should be on a smaller needle -- but I kept on through the whole garment, fussing and complaining all the way!

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  7. Hi, Lene! I loved your post very much. I started a sweater for my daughter 6 years ago, and just a few months ago decided that I hated the yarn and that was why I wasn't finishing it. I felt so guilty. But when I told my daughter and had her pick out a new yarn, I felt so free! I am well on the way to finishing the new sweater. Sometimes you just have to let the project go, eh?

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  8. PS - Love your shawl bag! The knit and purl tags add such a wonderful whimsical touch.

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  9. Thank you so much for this post. It is so important to be aware that producing beautiful things of whatever type involves a lot of very hard work, and it is so encouraging to hear someone as talented as you being so honest about the process.

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  10. Such sweet pets! The mitten is just gorgeous -- I love seeing the little bit of lace peeking out. Also, the owls are so charming.

    I always have a hard time knowing how much to share on my blog. I love starting projects, and I usually like to show finished products, but that middle stretch in between and the sadly neglected abandoned projects are a whole different story.

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  11. Your lace cuff mittens are gorgeous. And thanks for the link to your Margaret. I'd had forgotten it and was glad to see it again.

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  12. In the first picture, I thought it was two dogs, then realized the one is a cat. What a picture of friends! Thank you for sharing the process a bit - it makes all of us feel better to know that it doesn't come out right the first time for everyone else.

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  13. Thank you for writing this post, while I only recently found your blog, I am in total awe of your finished projects. Its nice to know that even those who are as skilled as you suffer similiar frustrations as I do
    Love your project bags btw

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  14. It is the loveliest mitten I ever saw! I do hope you're writing a pattern.

    Also, I'm just finishing my first Minni and have already bought yarn for another, because my little girl obviously needs more than one. Love, love, love that design.

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  15. As always, your blog enlightens and inspires me. Just when I hit a lull in my own knitting and can't seem to get the enthusiasm for another project, your ideas and photos lift my spirits. I especially appreciate the link to the handbag website - something new to try! Love your little zippered bags.

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  16. Beth in Maryland16:25

    Lene, tou are so inspiring and encouraging! This post was just a treat. Thank you so much.

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  17. Onpa kaunis lapanen, erityisesti tykkään tuosta pitsi-ideasta.
    Täällä etelämpänäkin talvi vain jatkuu ja jatkuu ja lunta tulee koko ajan lisää, mutta joutsenten muutto on alkanut - kevät tulee sittenkin!

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  18. Lizzi00:21

    If something looks easy it's usually because it's well done and not easy at all. I admire your tenacity and attention to detail - wish I had some of it. I love the mittens and the bags and - well, everything really.

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  19. lovely knitting, lovely bags and all, but oh my, the dog and the cat melt my heart right away. :)

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  20. I just love that last photo...what fun to see them so at ease with each other! And your mittens, your owls, the bags - all lovely, but the lacey frill on the mitten is gorgeous.
    btw...I've named you one of my Stylish Blogs with details over on my own, should you be so inclined to participate!
    I just love visiting you here...

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  21. Your are very giving to share your creative issues, the problems, the two steps forward, the three steps back. Sometimes I wonder why or where we got the idea that one just picks up a project and completes it without a single glitch. Like magic! No, all projects from a new recipe to a sweater is a learning process. Okay, even old recipes at times. Thank you, now I will go figure out just why the neckband is not working on my top.

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  22. Trista21:46

    Another feast for the eyes and hearts of crafters everywhere! I too, love the mittens, and then there are the whimsical bags and owls- precious.
    I don't know how you live where you live, and watching how you spend your winters and your summers is just so interesting! That puppy has grown up!

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  23. Kuinka kauniit käsineet ja niin sopiva pitsi! Ihania muita ideoita! So lovely!

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  24. Gorgeous mitten and great bags. I never got wonderful at the sewing thing you've inspired me to at least think about it more.

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  25. The blue and white mitten in beautiful! Any chance of you publishing a pattern? Otherwise I shall be forced to invent my own, and that usually results in Frankenproject.

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  26. Oh dear . . . I read this post with fascination, admiration, and an uncomfortable measure of resistance. I've started my first double knit project, and after days of knitting, ripping, and trying repeatedly to get the selvedges right, I have to admit that I am still not happy with them. So, it's back to the cast on, hoping I will have enough wool to get to the end of this scarf. If I weren't in love with the crow images in them, I'd have given up weeks ago. Thank you, Lene, for reminding me of all the aspects of creativity.

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  27. Ellen in Conn02:35

    Lene, I like what you did at the base of each diamond on the Rovaniemi mittens, to make the corners more pronounced. Ingenious! You break rules of knitting, which is great because it expands our boundaries and adds to the craft in important ways.

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  28. I adore you blog!! I'm following.

    Would love you to enter my CHANEL giveaway:

    http://thoroughlymodernmilly5.blogspot.com/2011/03/chanel-giveaway.html

    xx

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  29. Anonymous19:19

    The things ju make are wonderful! I'm glad I found your blog./KataM

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  30. Congratulations with your classes at KnitNation!
    All your projects posted are beyond lovely, the mittens, the pouches, the bag.. you have such a delightful eye for detail!
    The true love, sweet!
    Oh, the stubborns, I do relate to that. pesky it is. :^)

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  31. Just want to say Hello. I admire your creativity which shows on your blog and your photo gallery. Thanks for sharing them.

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  32. I've just been reading backwards from december. Everything is lovely, but the mittens are my favorite. Gorgeous! (And what a nice husband you have! To send you to Paris and take care of the kids. Or to know how useful a washer/dryer would be. You are lucky!)

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