Saturday, December 14, 2013

It Fought Back

To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect -- Oscar Wilde
Being a chronic over-thinker means that:
  • I spend a lot of times planning things out
  • When things don't pan out, it upsets me
  • Surprises are often unpleasant for me
Therefore, it is a rare thing for me to throw caution to the wind and just pick up yarn and start knitting with it. I mean, I've done it before, but it usually entails a lot of wrestling around with the project, a lot of restarts, and a lot of mid-project research before I get something I like. That all kind of cancels out the spontaneity of the whole pick-up-and-knit thing.

But that's what I did with my most recent project. I took two skeins of yarn off my shelf that I thought would kinda go together, found a stitch I thought would work with them, and started knitting myself a cowl.

I wanted a big, comfy cowl: one that would wrap around my neck, and that I could sink my face into when the wind stung my face during chilly walks. I wanted to wear it at work in my office, which is not always the warmest, and where I often find myself wrapping myself with my knitted objects. It was a nice idea...

Except, knitting this thing was awful.

It became a chore, something to avoid. I distracted myself by looking through knitting and crochet magazines. I flirted with other projects, thinking I might stray and start another one. And I found other distractions:

I baked stuff, like these cinnamon buns:


I played with bread recipes:


But I had to finish what I started. And finish it I did.

I was fully prepared to hate this thing. I hated it as I knitted each slow, irritatingly awkward stitch. I hated the uneven look of the ends of each round (which I was probably doing wrong, but was too lazy to figure it out), and I hated the look of all the ends I had to sew in. The crinkly, foldy-upy edges annoyed me, and they annoyed me even more as each method I tried for flattening them down failed one after another. As I weaved each of the scraggly ends into the scarf, I said to myself, "I'm not sure I'm ever going to wear this thing."

So, I did what any person in my place would do: I tried to destroy it.

I brought it over to the sink and soaked it in mildly soapy, tepid water as per usual to block it. I let it soak until it was really, really wet. Then, I went over to my kettle and filled it full and set it to boil. As it bubbled away, I drained the sink, then shocked it with the hot water. I stirred it around with a wooden spoon, then I drained that water and shocked it again with cold water...

This is one of many processes for felting wool, and I thought that it might make this cowl better. There were a couple of problems with this idea, however:
  1. I'd never done it before, and therefore had no idea how long it would take.
  2. I have zero patience for this sort of thing.
After a half-dozen shocks, I got bored, let it cool, then wrung it out. I folded it and let it hang in the bathroom to drip dry, then unfolded it took it out and let it dry completely.

I forgot about it for two days.

Then, I looked at it, and realized that all that shocking, while unsuccessful for felting, actually caused the yarn to bloom in such a way that was so pleasing that I found myself... liking it. The pinky hand-dyed skein had mellowed into kind of a salmon tone, with spoldges of darker colours throughout to give it depth.



When I took these photos today, I luxuriated in the cushy warmth of it.




Even the curly edges ceased to irritate me. The cowl destined for destruction seemed to fight back for itself, and I think it has won. I already know I'll be wearing it to work on Monday.


Well then, knitted thing, you win. I guess I'll have to love you, you annoying, pretty object. I'll admit defeat this time.

Good sportsmanship, that's what I'm all about, eh?

2 comments:

  1. Love, love, love your post. So very glad it turned out so beautiful :) I can relate!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jolene! I'm very happy with it!

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