Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Some success, a momentary happiness and a new beginning

While May works its magic outside; there has been some snow, some sunshine and some rain, I keep busy at my beloved craft. It always rounds up to knitting. When there is a huge knitting failure, I keep thinking that I have had it with the craft. I often find myself thinking that - I know this is very true at some point but is not the whole truth - I fail in some projects because I am not concentrating and I am not concentrating because I am not enthusiastic any more: I just wish that whatever I am working on, will turn out beautifully, but I really never stop to think or to pay attention, and, dear friends, wishful thinking very seldom produces lovely finished items. Okey, the above mentioned happens way too often but really is not true with this project.

I was thrilled, I was prepared and I pushed myself to do my best, but alas! my best was not enough. And the truth bites. While it hurts, it really can work its way to benefit the craft too because now I am left with a feeling that I should be able to do better and I will need to prove that to me and that means more knitting.

It all started with an idea: baby cardigan with some crochet, combining some traditional features from the old Finnish sweater. (I discovered the joy of wee wools couple of years ago: new, lovely fingering weight wools and small gauge, colors I would not wear myself, details that would not suit my own clothing and the projects would not take forever and these small cardigans could act as swatches, laboratories for various techniques.)



 I drew the outline of the cardigan in a small scale, I picked the motif for the border, made a pattern for the cardigan in full scale, made a swatch, washed it, counted my stitches and set my gauge. I even tried some finishing techniques of the little cardi. What I did not do and what I should have done, is to take a closer look at the seaming process, decide what techniques I was going to use and then knit accordingly. So I failed in this area big time. I should have checked my notes of my previous seamed work (I keep journal of my work and analyze at times what went wrong and what I should be aware of next time).


The little lacy bit around the collar is there because I had to cover some of the mistakes (bad ones!). We will ignore the wonky edgings in the front.


The way I attached the sleeves is bad craftsmandship, I had no intention to draw any attention to the upper sleeves. The shoulder seams I am not even going to let you see at this point... nor the inside of the cardigan. There is only that much one can share and you just have to take my word for it when I say that it is totally ugh!!


I hate it when I have to say to myself that I cannot do something. (That is in my craft, there are plenty of things outside knitting that I cannot do, but after forty and some years of knitting, saying that I cannot do something, irritates me.) Some years ago I did not know how to do stranded knitting well enough, and so I practiced and now I am quite happy with it, quite, and this means stranding in the round. But carrying two yarns when purling felt odd and resulted in wonky stitches. I was going to tackle this in this cardigan, this is a small piece of clothing, having the bulk of steeks was not an option, so I had to learn to strand in the purl side as well. The outcome is not perfect, the sleeves (done in the round) are better but the main part is okay, I am fine with it and again, practice will do its magic one day, I hope. This learning opportunity really sparked my inspiration in the beginning, it was frustrating at some point, yes, it involved lots of tinking, but finally I finished the item, so I give some credit of that to me. While I was learning color knitting in purling, I totally ignored many crucial points in the piece.


I had a hard time finishing this little knit because I grew aware of the mishaps along the way but I really wanted to finish, not to have my bitter cup full, but to see the whole project through to be able to learn. There were many moments when I had to put it down, go walk the dogs, come back and pick it up the again. I am really happy I did that, because all in all it is a cute little cardigan and it taught me a lot and quitting it would not have taught me all that I know now.

The success is that I pushed to the end and that made me happy for a bit. The new beginning is the part where I am starting all over again. While making this little Dancing Girls cardigan, my mind has been working on a new design, same elements, new motif, my own this time. And this time I am going to pay attention to seams and picking up stitches neatly. It really is very inspiring, the ability to start over and always thrive for the better. Isn't that really the best part?

Wool with you,

Lene

(The buttons are missing at this point. Have not found any good ones yet.)

30 comments:

  1. I understand your frustration with some of the elements, but looking at the project as a whole I would never relate the word "failure" to it. It's gorgeous, and if this is your "failure" I can't wait to see the second "improved" version : )

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  2. I think you are being very hard on yourself, this is a beautiful garment! The colours are lovely, and the way you combine crochet and knitting is really nice. Truly a piece of work to be proud of!

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  3. It sure looks pretty to me. I love the crochet trim even if you added it to cover something up. I like the quilt, too!

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  4. The sweater works, visually, and as someone who has knitted for more than 50(!) years, I understand your frustration with the parts where you wish you had done better. But as you said, you now know what you will try differently next time. I am a quilter as well as a knitter, and I would love to see a picture of the quilt upon which that sweater is resting. Is it a simple Rail Fence design which has been creatively quilted, or is it composed of one tiny square after another? And did you make it?

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  5. Luisa14:07

    This is so pretty and so lovely. I wish I had a little girl to knit for.
    On smaller projects, I never feel at ease with the first 'draft' and usually cast on for a second try as soon as I finish the first. As it is a tiny knit, it doesn't take long and it feels so rewarding to finally get it right! Don't give up, please, you have so much talent! It would be a waste.

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  6. Wow. You're really hard on yourself in this post. That little sweater is sweet beyond words.

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  7. Lene, it is very helpful to hear your doubts and self-criticisms. It reminds me that even when I don't like my finished product as much as I thought I would or should, there are good lessons to be learned and applied to the next one.

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  8. Even with the mistakes you say are there - it's a darling cardigan. I love the bit of lace at the neck & cuffs. I usually tell myself that the "oops" are there to prove it was hand made with love. Any machine can churn out perfection.

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  9. I love reading your blog. You always have such beautiful projects on the go, and to my untrained eyes this is no exception. Your "failure" is 100 times better than my successes! :-)

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  10. MaureenTakoma17:27

    Your cardigan is totally adorable and the ruffle at the neck is so right. Perhaps the boo-boo it covers was necessary in order to pique your creativity and take the cardi to the next level.

    Sharing your knitting experiences is so helpful to those of us further down the skill level. Thanks!

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  11. This cardigan in just lovely, but I totally understand not being able to create what you want. I have also been knitting for 40+ years and it really bothers me that I can't get the hang of knitting socks on circular needles. It seems like such a simple thing to practice, but I get so impatient with the slowness of this new method, that I always go back to dpns. Someday I'm sure it will just click and I'll forget all the frustration.

    When I hit a knitting slump, I've turned to making hats out of my scrap yarns. I've set the rule that they don't have to be something I'd wear, or even perfectly knitted, and it's been so liberating! I can still always have something on the needles, learn new stitches, experiment with color combinations, and if the hats turn out to be "failures", I give them away.

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  12. Anonymous19:32

    Thank you for such an honest sharing and I am so glad that you persevered. You learned a lot that you shared with us and a little one is going to love the cardigan.

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  13. I've learned that almost anything new that I start (new pattern, new technique, a new yarn) is going to give me trouble. It seems inevitable that I will rip back and begin again. And it's in doing so that I learn. I think it's great that after all your knitting years you're still looking for something new to learn!

    That's what you're doing, I think, and you are generous indeed to share that with us. Nonetheless, while you don't have a perfect outcome, you have a very nice, attractive outcome, and like fridica said, I can't wait to see the next version.

    Keep learning and sharing!!

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  14. Lene!
    You are way too hard on yourself!
    Sometimes hand made things aren't perfect. There is nothing wrong with hiding mistakes.......wish I was as good a knitter as you!!
    When you look at this beautiful cardigan...........look at it's beauty! not at the problems you had with it!!

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  15. It looks lovely from this side of the Atlantic and on my screen. But I do understand the crafters extremely high standards. I suffer form them too.

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  16. Good for you for perservering and seeing the project through to completion despite the frustrations and setbacks! It's a metaphor for what we all experience in life at those times when it's important to see something through to the end and not give up. I applaud your efforts! (Plus I really like the little cardigan!)

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  17. The sweater is so cute, and even if it isn't JUST how you want it, it has to be dubbed a success due to its sheer appeal. It just screams "knit me!"
    Congratulations for sticking with it. I know it isn't easy sometimes.

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  18. Even if the crochet is made to cover up an error, I think it looks wonderful and really finishes off the lovely garment. So there is something positive to add (after reading the other comments) you have learnt

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  19. The little sweater is very sweet. The colors are pretty and I think the crochet trim is darling.

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  20. Anonymous05:11

    Thanks for this thoughtful piece on working through things and the importance of relating the parts to the whole. Good luck finding the right buttons-sometimes that is the trickiest part of a sweater. suenapse

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  21. I love the over all design of your cardigan. I love the crochet trim, That is such a great idea, and I love your lace trim. I hope you have found you mojo back.

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  22. What a beautiful learning ground you've made of the wee item. The outside is CHARMING and, well, with plenty of failures on my side, I'm only admiring your courage to discuss this particular educational effort publicly.
    Saluting,
    Linda
    PS I'm with Toni on the 'oops' message! And what a relief it is, to read from several (even long-time) knitters that they do and redo a new project, to get it down pat. Whew!

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  23. Anna23:32

    You are such an inspiration. Thank you for showing me how to work always to improve!

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  24. I hear you regarding not feeling like you have achieved your personal best, and being able to look back and see exactly where you went astray. But that psrticular cardigan? If I had knit it, you would hear me bragging all the way from Chicago. :)

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  25. Lois B.15:18

    You're too hard on yourself. The cardi is beautiful. I love your philosophy and the pursuit of perfection but sometimes close to perfect is also fine. All of your work is breathtaking.

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  26. I really appreciate the dense fabric of the crocheted colourwork. It adds such a tailored detail to your work. Purling on the wrong side has become sort of fun after finding the best way to hold my yarns using both hands. I think your cardigan is loveliness. Happy Spring! xx

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  27. The tiny cardigan is so sweet! Your little birds would be adorable flitting around the base of the sweater.
    Your perseverance and insight are inspiring.

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  28. I think this cardigan is lovely! But I know how you feel. Whenever I finish something I can't help but see any flaws in it even though other people think it looks perfect.

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  29. The thing I love best about knitting is the learning.

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  30. Thank you for posting your design ideas and processes, and especially for being so honest with your learning process! I find it so interesting and helpful in my own knitting even though I'm not a designer. I think the cardigan is beautiful, even if there are little things you want to tweak.

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