Monday, June 04, 2007

Ooops I Knit it Again

Are you a fussy knitter? When you make a mistake do you always rip - or never rip? I've been pondering these questions lately. Mistakes - making them and fixing them have been top of mind for two reasons: because of a wonderful essay written by Meg Swanson in the new "The Best of Vogue Knitting Magazine 25" book (amazing book by the way) and because I messed up the front of my Bonsai Tunic.

In her essay "Fussy Knitting" Meg Swanson provides a few technical tips targeted to those little details that often bother fussy knitters while pointing out that if you want perfection, maybe a mass-produced or machine knit item would be the less stressful route to accomplish that objective. I know some knitters who would rather crawl over hot coals than rip and some who can't stand the thought of fudging it. I tend to be a ripper...gee, that didn't sound good...when it comes to my knitting.

I've also discovered why I prefer cabled or colour knitting over lace knitting. I love the look of lace but the stitches disappear and reappear as you work them and this means stitch count is variable. With colour or cables - the number of stitches is the number of stitches - no slight of hand. Here's the section on the tunic where I went off track. I had been knitting visually - simply working to one before the previous yarn over and creating the next yarn over. I didn't stop to check that I had the 7 stitches in each section needed. When I realized that in this section I had only 6 stitches, I knew it was one of three reasons:
I forgot a yarn over

    I knit an extra k2together

    I dropped a stitch

I checked the work and couldn't see a dropped stitch so, I decided to simply make one and carry on. Here's the section after I created a new stitch to get the number back on track. You can't really see the fudge but I was bothered by it. If it was a dropped stitch - the whole section could unzip after it was done - with my luck, right in the middle of a presentation to the Executive Team at work. I decided to put it down for a day and think about the right path to take.

I really had to examine how I felt about mistakes and what level of perfection I was demanding of myself. If I ripped out, I could easily be tossing several nights of work down the drain. Was that worth the comfort of knowing it was perfect? Why did I care?

In the end, I decided that I was the type of person who was OK with making a mistake but that I needed to at least know where I went wrong. If you don't know what the mistake is, how can you decide if you can live with it or not? I needed to know to deal.

I ripped back. It was about 8 rows worth before I found the problem. I had forgotten a yarn over. I needn't have worried about unraveling but that missing yarn over did mean the lace design was out of whack so, I was pleased that I did choose to rip. I'm now nearing completion of the lace panel on the bottom of the front and will start the waist ribbing soon. I'll spare you the photo because it's exactly like the back.

I've also finished the first sleeve of Maritime. Now here's a nice easy, breezy project which lends itself nicely to ripping out.

To rip or not to rip - that is the question. Knitting is one activity that does lend itself to Mulligan shots. Most things don't - if your screw up...a "do over" isn't even an option. It's actually a privilege to be able to rip. It may depend on the nature of the mistake and at what point of the project said mistake is discovered. The answer will however always teach you something about yourself.


Dr. Steph said...

I like using markers between each repeat so I can be sure the stitch count is right. I tend to forget yo's too. Though I usually just make one by picking up the bar between the two stitches and keep going--I also never use lifelines.

But I also rip when the mistake is big. I found unravelling only the mistake and fixing it never looks quite right and takes longer than just ripping it back.

Laurel said...

Oh....mistakes. Big or small, they are the bane of my knitting existence. I always try dropping and reknitting sections first (under the theory of: even if I completly mess it up, I'm no worse off than if I have to rip it all out.)

In the end though, I can't let mistakes stand. Not even the little ones. I either succeed in the drop fix or I rip. Cause I'm totally neurotic that way. And, I've seen your knitting and so I know that you are too. :-)

KnitterMan said...

Thanks for sharing your experience! I think I must have "unvented" at least eleventy-seven ways to screw up a simple Feather and Fan, so I can certainly appreciate your efforts on the Tunic!

I wanted to post a note to let you know I have selected your blog as the first Knitivity's "Knitter of the Week" -- to show off knitters whose blogs I've not discovered previously.

I posted it over at my blog:

Ray Whiting

vanessa said...

mostly a ripper here also, unless it doesn't mess up the pattern, or i've already ripped 3 times and am getting sick of the project...

Julie said...

I try to fudge if possible unless it will be really noticeable. I hate ripping out!!

The picture of the boys with their Starmore sweaters was great. Now you will have to put the sweaters away for grandchildren.