Friday, 30 December 2011

Knitting inside the lines.

The conventional wisdom these days is that children are inherently creative, and will go nuts with crayons if only given the opportunity. 

Dear reader, I have a confession to make: I used to love colouring inside the lines. Not only that, my favorite kind of colouring book had the same illustration on two sides: the left side was coloured, the right side was for imitating the model. The more accurately my rendition would approach the example, the happier I'd be. 

For my ninth birthday I received 18 Caran d'Ache colouring pencils, the Rolls Royce of crayons. The metal box they came in included a little paintbrush. You could wet it and go over your coloured surfaces to get an aquarel effect. I got a huge new colouring book too. It kept me busy for many happy hours. The other present for that birthday was a thick hardcover, linen-bound book with short fiction written for children and youth by many well-known Dutch writers of the day. "Omnibus voor de jeugd." was read and re-read and I still remember many of the stories. My brother still has it. I might reclaim it one of these days. We digress. It's my blog and I'll ramble if I want to.

Now what does this have to do with knitting? Just this: I am utterly incapable of improvising. In order to create anything I have to have an exact pattern, designed for the wool in question. 
Once I got over the initial confusion described earlier I rather enjoyed knitting. My favorite creations were Cowichan-style sweaters made with white Buffalo wool. They not only went fast because the yarn is so thick, the patterns were designed exactly for that wool. I even mastered the Fair Isle technique, albeit only with two colours.

There was also an ambitious tweedy oatmeal-coloured cardigan that I made for my husband while pregnant with our son. It had a V neck and buttons in front that never came out exactly right. He wore it around the house, but it had been meant as a classy piece of apparel. The last successfully finished item was a beautiful teal green sweater for moi, with a mock turtleneck and a beautiful pattern of fake cables and lacey holes. It was a wee bit shorter than I had intended but I wore it for years.

That was all a while ago. How long ago? Let's look at the tragic history of the final endeavor. It was a fisherman-style kid's sweater in burgundy coloured acrylic. Cheap yarn, because I wanted to practice the cables. I was smart enough to start it a few sizes too big because I knew it would take me a while. Made it size 6. Alex, then known as Sander, was 2 at the time. He is now 32. By the time the darn thing got finished it would have been too small even for the grandson who had appeared in the meantime. I got as far as having a front and a back and two sleeves. Once I started putting it together it was clear that something was wrong with the proportions. The panels were much too narrow. A more inventive person might have salvaged the piece by knitting strips to insert between the front and back panel and inside the sleeves. Alas, the reality of such clever engineering is beyond me.

The failure turned me off knitting for years. But lately the urge has been growing. So I am investigating knitting sites. And came across this clever girl who recycles thrift shop sweaters by unraveling the yarn and selling it. You gotta love it!

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