I recently picked up knitting again. It’s a hobby I really love but often drop for months at a time. I started a sweater, something I’ve been wanting to do for years but have always been afraid of tackling. I was halfway done with the body when I tried on the sweater for the first time and was disappointed to find that there was a big swatch of color pooling from the hand-dyed variegated yarn right across the front. The spot was about four inches back from my current row – the only way to fix it would be to frog (unravel) it back to where I was happy with the color.
I sat with the idea for a couple days and texted multiple friends asking for opinions about how bad the pooling was. I was surprised to find that most did not even notice it, even when I pointed it out to them. Meanwhile, I kept wondering if it wasn’t that bad, then would look back at the picture and felt sure that I would be unhappy with the final product if I didn’t redo the work. Eventually I sat down and frogged back to right before the spot I hated.
Since I was in the middle of fixing things anyway, I decided to fix another spot that bothered me – I had woven in some ends from switching colors but had done it wrong and it twisted the stitches on the right-side of the piece. I carefully picked out the end, but then suddenly a hole grew in the fabric and I realized that I had unraveled the actual fabric itself. I tried looking up tutorials for how to fix the hole, but as I looked at the diagrams of stockinette online and then looked at the variegated yarn that I was using, I realized that I didn’t think I could fix it.
I decided to frog the rest of it and start over even farther back. When I was done and it was back on the needles, I had one inch of sweater done and an entire pattern to redo. I diligently started knitting again.
Last night I finished about three inches of the body and got to the point where I wanted to try it on again. I’d been watching the colors and switching balls accordingly and so far the dark pooling hadn’t shown up again. I was excited.
Then I put on the sweater.
And I saw it.
This time the front of the sweater had a handful of bright stripes bookended by dark stripes – it looked a little like a zebra. Crestfallen, I took the sweater off and looked over the stitches. Close up, my knitting looked great: even tension, conistent stitch size, and beautiful yarn. But as I looked at the sweater as one single garment, suddenly the beautiful variegation looked messy and imperfect. Ugly. All together, the sweater kind of looked ugly.
I don’t know why I was surprised. That’s the thing with hand-dyed yarn; it’s unpredictable and no two skeins are the same. This sweater calls for six skeins. Even choosing the skeins by hand doesn’t ensure that the colors will match completely. In fact, I’ve found almost every color of the rainbow in each of the skeins – while the majority is red and orange, I have stitches that are purple, blue, green, and black. The beauty of the color is what drew me to the colorway in the first place. I had even looked up pictures of other projects people had done with this particular color so that I could see how it knits up. Logically I knew that the final product would not look exactly the way I imagined it would. It’s not something I bought in a store. It’s something that I made.
Lately I haven’t been writing much. At all. I have a new story in my head but right now that’s where it lives and I’m too afraid to put the words down on paper for fear that they won’t be as perfect on the page as they are in my head. But in my head no one else reads them. They can never be improved, hell, they can hardly even be remembered.
Why is it that I can start, work on, then unravel a knitting project with scarcely any hesitation, but I’m afraid to even cast on my current story idea? It’s like I’m stuck in that pre-project stage, where I’m looking at patterns and construction techniques and looking up other people’s projects and gushing over what they create while being too afraid to start my own project.
I’ll be honest, I don’t feel like I’ve had a breakthrough. I’m still just as afraid of starting to write my story as I was before. But I’m going to sit with the thought that this sweater is going to turn into whatever the yarn turns it into, and my contribution is to see it through to the end…and maybe switch balls in a way that I encourage the colors to turn out beautiful in the end.