Monday, 23 February 2009

To Knit, Perchance to Quilt...The Ribbons of Hope Scarf

Remember on Saturday when I posted a picture of that gorgeous scarf and I was just flying along with its progress? Yeah, well, today is a whole different story. Not that there is anything wrong with the pattern or the yarn; it's just my perfectionist tendencies and how I deal with them.

So, the story begins on Saturday. Giuli and I had knitted for a while during the day (she's working on a lovely lavender washcloth with her own design which I shall post as soon as she finishes. About a week ago, I taught her how to make yarn-overs and knit-two-togethers to get eyelets and the girl's design genes have kicked in big time.) She was looking for a change in venue late in the afternoon, so we headed out to run a few errands with plans to end up at Borders, our regular knitting hang-out.

I digress for a moment to share one of my delights...

For the past six years or more, I have used Noxzema cleansing cream exclusively as a facial cleaner. It smells great and takes off makeup better than anything else I've tried. So, when Giuli and I were at Target to pick up a couple of jars, I found that they also make an exfoliating cleanser. It comes in a 6-ounce tube and, thank goodness, it still has that great Noxzema scent. Serendipitously, Target only had one of the 14-ounce jars left of the regular cream, so I figured I give the new kid on the block a try. The early results are in and the exfoliating cleanser gets a thumbs up! Yet another reason why I don't believe in buying the fancy-named expensive products. I do love my Noxzema (even though I often get those bizarre visuals of Wesley Snipes in To Wong Fu Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar...but let's not go there right now.)

Back to the knitting...

I completed about three pattern repeats on Saturday, including a small amount at Borders whilst perusing the newest knitting magazines. Several of my friends complimented me on the project and I was happy to brag about how much I love this yarn and the pattern. Unfortunately, a small disaster was lurking - waiting for me to perform a more careful examination of my work after I got home.

You see, this pattern involves wrapping the yarn around the needle four times for every one stitch on the right side of the scarf on the fifth and eleventh row of the patterning. Then, on the sixth and twelfth rows, not only do you magically change those wraps into long dropped stitches, but you also cross four stitches over four others and then knit them in this totally different order which results in (what else?) a crossed stitch. This is not really difficult; however, you must be really, really careful not to accidentally mess up the order of said crossed stitches or it will show up on the back of your work...usually a day or so after you've actually produced what I have now dubbed the "star-crossed" stitch. (Only because I'm a big Shakespeare geek and Romeo and Juliet was recently being performed down at the Shakespeare Tavern, thus the term is fresh in my mind.)

So, yeah, in the newly-bright light of my studio (a bulb blew out in my ceiling fan light when I got home after the Borders visit and I actually replaced it in a timely manner) I decided to closely inspect the 180 rows of the awesome scarf of awesomeness. (Cue the Psycho music here.) EEK! I had not just one, not even two, but three (count them) three star-crossed stitches - the first one being back around repeat number seven or so! No, you wouldn't have seen them from a galloping horse or (going back to my ballet wardrobe mom days) from the audience. But I saw them. I knew they were there. They taunted me. ("Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt like elderberries!"...okay, perhaps a slight exaggeration.)

I decided to sleep on, not the scarf. sigh.

Three hours later, I was up again. My perfectionism won out. There was no way I was going to make something for someone and knowingly let a mistake get by. The beautiful scarf once again became a beautiful ball of yarn.

Am I bitter about having to frog my work? No, not really. Do I consider the hours I put into it a waste of time? Again, no. I have found a few helpful methods that are paying off now that I'm reknitting. The first time, I had to try three different sets of needles before I found ones that are most suitable to the yarn. I thought I was being careful with my crossed stitches but found that careful wasn't enough - extra careful is enough. And I have discovered that I need to switch from my normal Continental style to English for one row of the patterning in order to accomplish that extra care.

So far, the results are stunning. I do love the way this yarn feels and it's such an exquisite pattern that I may have to incorporate this stitch into another project which Giuli suggested (No! Not a blanket, Giuli. Think smaller...much smaller.)

So, on my next knitting post I shall have photos of the finished scarf and I will share my tips on the three things that I have utilized in order to turn this project into a Dilettante's Delight.


Barbara said...

Good for you. You live well with your perfectionism and show a standard for others - like myself - that would stew over it.

Pretentious Wombat said...

Barbara, you have no idea how many years it has taken for me to come to grips with my perfectionism. I had a co-worker once who couldn't understand it. Boy, that made life difficult!