One thing I like to say to people who are afraid of correcting their mistakes is that “it’s only knitting”. And while this is essentially true it is also somewhat unfair because to the person who is knitting (especially a beginner) it’s very important to get it right. More experienced knitters who have faced many mistakes in their life (and if they say they haven’t, they lie) know that whatever is wrong can be fixed or can be integrated into the pattern as a “design element”. But beginners are so earnest, and are trying so hard, that to screw something up is disaster. Sometimes, new knitters will say something along the lines of “I can’t wait to be able to do that!” or “Wow, you are so fearless about ripping out” or even “I’m too scared to do that” and while we reassure them that we are not superhuman (well, we are but…) I am here to say that there are still some techniques that send frissons of fear down even the most experienced knitter’s back.
Steeking: There’s a reason why the word “eek!” is incorporated into the word for this technique. Who in their right mind would take scissors purposefully to a garment they just spent weeks, potentially months knitting? It feels like looking at a meal you just spent all day cooking and saying “Well, now I’ll throw in a cup of salt”. But in truth steeking actually is a good thing because it means you can knit something in the round the whole way – no purling!
Brioche: I got a knot in my stomach just typing it. Two- color brioche is a sub-set of this sweaty palm inducing technique. I love brioche. I actually even love knitting the brioche stitch. Here’s what I fear: correcting mistakes. When Pam was teaching the Exploration Station and her students would come in with brioche corrections I would running (silently) screaming into the back room. But now I am contemplating an entire jacket in brioche. Help me.
Double knitting: This is one of the coolest techniques out there. It is also one of the most difficult to wrap your mind around. Double knitting is reversible colorwork so you are actually knitting one side while purling the other at the same time. Think on that for a while. Every row is the front of one side and the back of the other. I can hear your little brain synapses popping as I type.
DPNs: When someone who has never come across this acronym asks what it stands for and hears the answer, almost universally their reaction is “wait, there are points on BOTH ends?” and then their brains shut down. Even with us experienced knitters there are those who would pretty much do anything to avoid DPNs It’s definitely a personal preference kind of thing. And while I love DPNs I understand that they can sometimes make you feel so uncoordinated you might as well be knitting with your toes.
Lace: Again this is a personal preference/ability thing. Danni can knit lace in her sleep while I have never come so close to swearing off knitting entirely as I did during a lace project. Now I can cable and colorwork until the cows come home but lace scares me.
So never think that just because we are “experienced” means that we don’t have our fears. We just hide it well.
There are many times in life when we have to take a leap of faith, everything from having faith that the engineer that built that super-sized roller coaster you’re riding on knew what they were doing to believing that the person you just married is not in reality a serial killer/cannibal/nutcase. Generally we don’t think at the time that these are actual leaps of faith, we just proceed assuming that nothing bad will happen. A literal leap of faith is best illustrated by the moment Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones steps off a ledge into the void without knowing that there is a camouflaged bridge beneath his outstretched foot (see “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”).
Well, knitting wise, I have stepped off that ledge
Then there arose another issue. The gauge was done in stockinette but the cable pattern on the front and the back pulled in the overall dimensions by almost 4 inches. So that too had to be figured in to the new size I would be choosing.
After much hemming and hawing and measuring and measuring again, I took that leap of faith (faith that all my calculations were correct) I opted to go with a significantly larger size. Originally I intended to knit a little ways and measure again and if it was off, to rip out the project and start again in a smaller size. Somehow I have kept going and am now at a point where I have knit so much that if I were to rip it out I would probably have to go into a period of mourning and gnashing of teeth which could result in the vest never getting knit. So, I’m going with the next level of leap of faith (which is basically blindly going forward while feeling instinctively that you are heading to disaster) and just continuing with the knitting of the vest as established. What’s the worst that could happen?
One word: steek.
P.S. One way or another I’ll post photos and/or tear-stained confessions and promises to never do such foolishness again.
Julie, WY's Do-bee and store wordsmith.