Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sometimes, Instinct Stinks

Apparently, knitting is relaxing.

The image most people have is this: a person (usually a woman), nestled in a soft, comfortable chair, cat or other furry animal sleeping at her feet, with a basket over yarn balls next to the chair. A strand of yarn connects the basket to her needles as they click, click, click.

That's not what I look like when I knit, at least, not what I looked like last night.

I started working on Semele yesterday. Semele is a person from Greek mythology, the mortal mother of Dionysis. It is a beautiful shawl, but well...

The lace in this pattern is true lace, where each row is different. I'm used to knitting lace where you get a bit of a break every other row, where you just purl across and you don't have to think much. Not true for this pattern. I don't think I've wrinkled my forehead for that long before.

This is actually my second attempt knitting it. The first, I screwed up the start and mixed up the right and wrong side...

Or so I thought.

Last night, I was working away, carefully checking each and every row. I finished the first section, and was about a third of the way through the second section, then I stopped.

Wait a minute, I thought, I've done it again. Argh!

I worked back to where I thought I'd messed up. I turned the piece around and around. Ok, this is the right side. No wait, this is the right side... right?

I kept on knitting. That doesn't look right at all. I was expecting it to decrease here. I worked back a couple of rows, then worked them again. That's still not right.

I looked at the pattern, looked through each line, counted stitches. It was like reading hieroglyphics, and my brain couldn't see the shapes the pattern was making.

Then finally, logged onto Ravelry and looked at other people's projects. That's when the lightbulb went on. I hadn't messed up. This pattern is just one of those projects that is defying my instincts. It feels like I'm doing things wrong, but I'm not. It's difficult to trust the pattern.

I guess I'm more type A than I thought.

Perhaps one of the reasons that I'm finding it so hard to trust this pattern is that I've already ripped back on this project twice, and I'm pretty sure that, if I have to rip it out again, I'm going to pitch this ball of yarn out onto the street. I've just realized that one of the increases I used is wrong, but it'll just have to stay as on of my "personal touches."

I know, I wanted something more challenging, and perhaps once I finally get into the rhythm of this pattern, I can start to enjoy it more. I am loving the colour of the yarn, and I'm starting to appreciate the shapes I am making, but it seems like it's going to be a while before I really know what this thing will look like.

This must be what it's like to learn how to fly the space shuttle.... difficult at first... lots of steps to learn, then easy... well, ok, it's nothing like flying a space shuttle. I just want to be able to say that I AM like a rocket scientist for once. I'm guessing, though, that astronauts just don't say, "Well, I'm thinking this is the right switch. It just feels right." There's a big difference between thinking you're right, and actually knowing you are.

It's probably just as well that the shuttle program is finished. They don't need any advice from the likes of me!


  1. Once you confirm which is the right side maybe you could hang a stitch marker on that side? You know just as a reminder each time you pick up your knitting.
    I had to resort to this on my garter stitch Multnomah shawl. I kept thinking I could read my knitting and know which was the increase side. I kept getting the wrong stitch count. Once I placed the stitch marker on the right side I did not need to waste time figuring out which side was which.
    It is going to be beautiful!

  2. I got a little less far on Semele than what you have done. Then I abandoned it because it took way more concentration than I was up for at the time. I switched to Saroyan and that's suiting me better right now. Both so pretty!

  3. @YarnKettle: I've got it figured out now. It seems obvious now!

    @livnletlrn: I made Saroyan and it was much, much easier than this! I think I've got the swing of it now, but just as I was about to put it down for the evening last night, I had a weird stitch arrangement going on. I hope it's ok now!

  4. I've never knit "true" lace before - I think I'd have to knit it in complete silence all by myself, and even then I'd be ripping back all the time! Your shawl is looking lovely :)