Knitting for Dummies, by Pam Allen, Tracy Barr, and Shannon Okey, is my lifeline! It breaks down knitting to its simplest - keeping me out of trouble when that project has presented a new challenge. It is also the perfect accompaniment and teacher in learning new skills and tricks of the trade. What would I do without it? While not every problem in life or in parenting is as easily solved as the challenges we face in knitting, through this craft, I have managed to learn a lot about myself as a human being and as a parent. I hope I can share these experiences with you, and in turn, we can spend some time together learning from each other...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ribbit, Ribbit

First and foremost... This post is especially dedicated to any parent who has ever wished s/he could erase a "sour moment" (and you know exactly what I'm talking about) with their kids, but also to any human being who has ever wished for a do-over.

On life and parenting...

Raising a child - heck, living... presents its challenges, doesn't it? There isn't a day that goes by when I don't think or wish for at least one do-over. It goes without saying that only in movies or some of those Nick cartoons does anyone ever get a life or a moment do-over... Oh, well.

I feel lucky enough to have an amazing support system.  Together with me, they often celebrate the child I am raising and the bond that the two of us are creating.  "Luckily," they are not shy about telling me when I was a bit too tough, came across as not-understanding, or when... I could have handled that parenting moment... better.  Those are my "I wish for a do-over" moments.  In them, I have often heard a little bit of my dad, and a little bit of all of the noise out there in the world crashing into my interactions with my son.  Each of those moments is often significant - if not for me, then, for my son.  Why does it feel so difficult at times?  Certainly, the rewards far outweigh these sour moments, and still... why does it often feel like you are walking uphill both ways with weights on your backpack?  (Did anyone say "back-to-school" yet?  LOL!)

My dear friend, Ray, often reminds me to be kind to myself and give myself a break.  After all, we parents are trying the best we can with what we have.  We may not be able to do-over our interactions, but we can learn, and re-learn to avoid the same pitfalls in the future.  I keep trying...

On knitting, learning, and re-learning...

Thankfully, there are places where do-overs are allowed.  In knitting, even after you have cut the yarn, do-overs are not only permissible, but they have become a lesson on which to grow.

Ever since I started my new life as a knitter, I have often been nervous about blatant mistakes on my work... Yes, I know, most mistakes correct themselves in the long run, and as one of my LYS owners reminds me... "We knitters often forget about the thousands of perfect stitches we make and only focus on the one that did not come out as well..."  (Now, that is a life lesson I want to absorb and pass on to my son!)  However, when a blatant mistake, one with which you cannot live, is made, we have three options: 

(1)  back-track stitch-by-stitch to fix the issue,
(2)  put the work aside and pray to some knitting force that the mistake will go away by itself... LOL! (...and what ends up happening is that the work is never picked up again), or
(3)  rip it and either catch the work in a row below your mistake or start from scratch.

Until recently, I only subscribed to option number one since the mere thought of taking the needles off of my work caused more agita than the announcement that Pushing Daisies AND Eli Stone were BOTH going off the air!  :(  However, early in the summer, I met a group of men who empowered me to cut, rip, and backtrack in a more aggressive and speedy manner.  Ribbit, Ribbit.  (Thank you, Todd and Michael!)  And why not?!  After all, stitches can be redone, and if a mistake in your lovingly knitted article is going to make you unhappy, start it over, or rip it until you feel comfortable that it is what YOU want it to be.

Introducing Joss...

In this "What if Adam and Eve had had knitwear?" series, Joss was the hat that had seven false starts and when it was finished for the first time, the crown was attacked by a pair of scissors so that it could be frogged (ripped) down to the band and reknitted.  YES! 

At first, I couldn't find the right yarn, and even after I found it, I didn't have enough of it to move past the band.  :(  Once I started knitting the band, I couldn't figure out what I didn't like about it, so it kept getting ripped.  I needed to be happy with it.  All along, I kept on testing different yarns, gauges, and even patterns for the cable.  The crown was started three times, and when I finished it, I went to try it on my model and it looked a bit... off... so, with a glass of bubbly in hand and a pair of scissors (scary combination for both hair and yarn), we sat on our front porch, and I ripped it, ripped it... all the way to the band.  Now, that's empowerment.

This hat was knitted following the ultimate pattern:  a vision of what you want and no instructions.  More empowerment... (Wait!  How can it ever be wrong then?!  LOL!)  The cabled band was knitted first to about 22" (approx. 85 rows) with slipped stitches at the end of each row and a buttonhole about 1/2 " before the end.  Once I had the band fitted for length, I picked up 75 stitches from the wrong edge of the band - as I wanted to keep the slipped stitches border visible, and stopping about 1/2" before the buttonhole as it needed to overlap with the other side. 

On my first row, I increased by one stitch every third stitch for a total of 100 stitches, and from there, I followed by easy-breezy pattern for my beanies, purling my whole way through.

I love the color and the detail of the button.  Thanks to the many do-overs and the opportunity to have them while knitting this hat, the end product was a flirty beanie with a lovely button detail perfect for fall and winter - and now perfect for my sister who already claimed ownership of the hat.  Hee, hee!  e-

A special thanks for my wonderful and beautiful and not-at-all-shy, dear friend Susan H. for modeling this hat.  We had a great time working together.  There's more to come!  Please stay tuned...