Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Stealing inspiration and other heresies...

Most of the time I don't like using patterns. With larger items, like sweaters, it's a crap shoot on sizing. Even worse, I usually take long breaks with sweaters, so I am guaranteed to lose my place. I am meticulous about many, many things. Medical professionals might even add obsessive compulsive, but tracking my knitting progress is not one of these things.

When I put a sweater down for a few weeks, I'm not going to remember where I was. I'm just not. And to be honest, I don't want to track my progress so minutely, so carefully that I'll be able to pick up the project a week or two after having last worked on it and be able to pinpoint exactly where I am. That's just not my way of knitting.

If you couple this with a nature that thinks backtracking is the root of at least one or two evils, and a general preference for winging it, it makes absolutely no sense for me to knit from patterns.

Now this means it took me a lot longer to ramp up to the knowledge I have today than some knitters, or even most knitters. But knitting isn't a contest for me. Yes, I feel a little competitive with other knitters who have stunning project pages, but it's just a feeling and it passes. Competition doesn't drive me to knit; color and texture and a sense of being useful do.

I had a bit of a crises of the mind this year and the only tether to society that I maintained throughout was reading the Ravelry forums. Hindsight will inform if this hindered or assisted my recovery, but I just couldn't help myself. On some days I was just downright addicted to the drama. Watching others crack under the Oceanic boot of the thought police was a great escape.

Is that a horrible thing to say? Yes, it is. And no, it isn't.

Many many moons ago, my dog died and I was devastated. Not being a drinker or a user of other mind altering substances, and not having the capacity to read, or the money for decent cable, the only escape I found was in computer games and cavorting with like minded gamers online. I became a high profile member of one game site, practically living my life online. I became very friendly, and very emotionally, but platonically, attached to another poster. Then one day that world imploded.

I lost what felt like a family. I lost a great deal of confidence in myself. Doubt surrounded me at every turn, and stayed with me for a long, long time.

So when I watch the implosions on ravelry, I am seeing all of my own mistakes over and over again. I am watching the attacks and feeling them personally over and over again. I read on rapturously as some posters make fun of the human foibles on display. Inhaling the snark, I tell myself, is a restorative for my dilapidated sense of self.

Seriously, who knows if this is true. I certainly won't claim to and it's my mind I'm talking about. It could have been a much-needed diversion. But what I took away from this pastime is a hypersensitivity to things I pleasantly ignored previously. Such as looking at for-sale patterns, getting inspired by designs, and then using that inspiration to knit my own thing.

Case in point: Wicked. I had the perfect yarn:

Jo Sharp DK Tweed

I love top down/raglan sweater construction. But...but...but I don't like the clingy fit, nor do I need a pouch to accentuate my own ample paunch. I just like the faux cable trimming. So the question that I have, the drama inducing dilemma I am concerned with, is when I knit my own version

Cranberry Forest

and desire to give kudos to the artist who inspired me, I dutifully purchase the pattern, but become muddled when determining the correct etiquette in attributing my inspiration on Ravelry.

There are two strong viewpoints on this. Some designers have pointed out their irritation when people reference their pattern, but knit their own design, and have that FO appear alongside true-to-pattern FO's. Other designers bask in the glow of the sentiment that imitation is essentially flattery and encourage it. I understand both points of view. I agree with both points of view. And so, I remain conflicted.

Cranberry Forest

But conflicted is better than jobless, or hungry, or homeless, or mentally ill.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Things I learned While Not Blogging

I've learned a lot of things while not blogging.

1) I've been spelling won't wrong for 42 years. I really didn't know it was a contraction. How did I not know that?

2) I must accept that I am not a blogger. I am not a social creature and blogging is about sharing, which is a social behavior. As callous as this sounds, I do not want to open a dialogue with other knitters on a consistent basis. I don't want friends, I'd really rather be alone. With Ravelry I can weigh in when I want and then ignore when I want. There is no sense of obligation to be social, and this blog has become dead weight with obligation.

3) I don't really like knitting with lace weight yarn. My foray into needle arts began with crocheting lace. In college I would buy cheap mercerized cotton thread from the Coolidge Corner Woolworth's and try to make lace, and add lace onto whatever I could. I still have a bambooesque drink coaster that I added some Estonian lace work to.

And although I love fine lace, I don't want to wear it. It's far too dainty for my rough and tumble ways. I've been expanding my lace knitting with heavier yarn. Here is the last lace project I finished, the all-lace version of Ysolda's Ishbel.



The yarn is the Tulip colorway of Sundara's ASM (aran silky merino), a gorgeous single ply aran weight yarn that is so wonderful to work with, it is really yarn crack. No disrespect to the winning ways of Malabrigo, but their glorious worsted yarn is just a gateway drug compared to the ASM. Yum yum yummity yum.

And one skein of 200 yards made the perfect size neck shawlette.

4) I am not sure if I like knitting with Wollmeise. Blasphemy I know. More test knitting is needed.


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