Round Peg In a Square Hole-crafts

Friday, January 26, 2007

Hard Times

Under the heading of "no good deed goes unpunished" lies the project I am currently knitting.

Let me first say that I love the woman for whom I am making this. She is a dear old friend, and we've known each other since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. We were fellow "Star Track freaks" in middle school, thus bonded similarly to the way that soldiers in fox holes do. (If you don't remember middle school as a war zone, then either you were extraordinarily lucky or you're in deep denial.) However, it is always a risk to sew/knit/craft for someone who does not do these things, as they really don't know what is possible and what is not, what is easy and what is amazingly difficult. This sometimes results in being outrageously thanked for simple, almost silly things. (I once impressed a whole skating team I was making costumes for, not with the elegant style of the costumes I chose, which looked good on most of the "mature" women on the team; not with the personal fittings; not with the speed with which I whipped them up; but... (wait for it)....because there were hooks at the top of the zippers!)

Unfortunately, the other possibility is that they ask for something which is fiendishly difficult, without even realizing it. While that is not exactly the case in this case, what she wanted (which I found out after I had said I would do it; my bad for not getting all the details beforehand) was something that was 1) much harder to do in knitting than crochetting (which I don't really do), and 2) something that was stylistically difficult for me, personally. And, it's not even really fair to blame her; once she explained what she wanted, *I* was the one who decided it had to be done this way. But I need to grumble a little bit, because the whole thing is further outside my comfort zone than I like to stray.

Kay's original request was for a shawl. I told her that, as long as it could be done on big needles and with bulky yarn, I could finish it in the timeframe allotted, and sent her links to sample shawls, to show her what I meant. Shortly after that, it morphed into a blanket; it was going into an auction basket, and she wanted it to be attractive to men as well as women. Again, back and forth with links to pics, but she never picked one. Her only input was that it was supposed to represent the ocean, and she wanted the other room mothers to go "Ooooh" when they saw it.

The first snag came when we got together to buy the yarn. When Kay had said "ocean", I began imagining chenilles in deep blues and greens. Kay was adamant that it should NOT be acrylic yarn, only natural fibers, dontcha know, and picked things in pale blues and whites. I argued for washability and economy, and we finally ended up with quite a few skeins of mixed-fiber yarns in four different colors. (Because she hadn't picked a pattern, I had to guess how much yarn to buy, and didn't want to run out. As it was, I ended up buying another skein of the darkest blue, just in case I needed it.)

It took me a long while to start the blanket, partly because I had other projects in the queue, partly because, not having a pattern, and only having a vague idea about what I was going to do, I didn't really know where to start. I finally just dove in and ran through one repeat of the colors; using two strands at any one time, it shades from dark to medium to light to white with sparkly bits. I am using short-rows to create shaped color patches that simulate waves, with the wide parts of one row hitting at the thin parts of the next row, and vice-versa. I've even borrowed a technique from sock-knitting book I have, to keep there from being holes where I turned, because I am not wrapping the stitches (that would be a nightmare with these yarns and these needles!).

What's really annoying me about all this is that it's not perfect. Now, I understand that nothing is perfect; and I tend to leave errors in projects, if they're not too egregious, for a lot of different reasons: humility, lowering my stress level, and increasing the probability that the freakin' thing will actually get finished are some of the top contenders. However, I only figured out the "not leaving a hole" trick well into the second color repeat. And, the more I think about it, the more I think that the first dark row should only have had half the shaping I put into it. And the two lightest color rows don't fit together spatially at all, but this is so big and bulky that I'm hoping that will all smooth out in the blocking.

Will eventually post the pattern As It Should Have Been here, so that some other anal soul doesn't have to go through what I went through. But it's also a case of "it's a really simple pattern that is a pain in the patootie to write down", and the no-hole trick is even harder to explain in writing. So, it may be a while.

Oh, and one more thing: it is really weird to go from knitting socks on size 0s to knitting this monstrosity on size 13s. Really.