Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Shrug of My Torment

I'm trying to determine whether I'm an idiot, but I'm not sure I'm smart enough to know.

Some time ago, my friend pointed out the Circular Shrug thread on Craftster. After obsessing over it, reading the posts, and looking at the pictures, I decided I wanted to make one. I ordered the yarn, the nicest yarn I had yet purchased since I often get my acrylic-blend yarns at Michael's. Well, I found a closeout on WEBS of a pretty pink in Cascade Cloud 9 - half angora, half wool. It's really nice. Unfortunately, I was not able to get to this project because I started my spiral scarf knitting binge for Christmas gifts.

After getting on Ravelry and rediscovering shrugs, and ordering yarn for a similar pattern, I looked for my Cloud 9 and thought I'd start that. Following the pattern directions, I dutifully knit a gauge swatch -- only I'm lazy and I only did a few rows, enough to get a close enough estimate so I could calculate how many stitches to cast on. Okay, done, I got my CO number and I happily knit 5 inches of 2x2 ribbing (a technique which I suffered to learn on another shrug I made). Piece of cake. Only when it's time for me to start the pattern stitch of mock rib, it occurs to me I have never done that stitch, which means I did my gauge swatch in stockinette (I didn't keep the swatch, I unraveled it and used it in the shrug. Oh, that's why you keep the swatch). BUT, you need to do your swatch in your pattern stitch or frogs will start falling from the sky. Well, maybe not that bad, but goodness knows what happens when you go off pattern and I had already done that with said earlier shrug.

The problem is I don't want to do boring old stockinette stitch for the body of the shrug. So I start searching Vogue Knitting's Stitchionary, Vol. 1 (on loan from the library) in an attempt to find something that looks interesting but not too far from st st. But, the stitches I find interesting and yet simple enough require a certain number of stitches, which I don't have. So I can't switch to those. Then I find kvp's shrug on Ravelry. The body of her shrug was mostly st st with an interesting design up the back. Perfect, I'll do that! She provided a link for the pattern. The only wrinkle is I've never knit from a diagram, I've always followed a written pattern (e.g. P2, K1, YO, P2.....), I've never used the grid. This indicates I'm more aural than visual (if you've ever studied learning styles).

The thing is, I'm not sure how to read the grid. I refer to the VK Stitchionary, since the Anticraft noted the vinnland pattern was adapted from a pattern in there. Looking at the VK stitch, which is written out, not on a grid, it instructs you to purl every other row, so you are only working the pattern on odd rows. Made sense to me. I tried to find instruction on how to read patterns or grids in my other knitting books but couldn't find anything that told me how to read the grid, they just explained stuff I knew about reading patterns, gauge, stitches and abbreviations, and needle size, etc. I also figured that if you use the pattern stitch for every row, you'd have to reverse knits and purls and it would all be so complicated.

So I start to knit, using the pattern on my knit side and purling the entire row in between. I'm digging the grid, it's really fun. Only my pattern looks longer and less intricate than kvp's and she has about 6 repeats of the pattern and there is no way I'm going to get that.

Dawn come slowly to Camp Marjorie. Turns out I couldn't find instruction on reading a grid because it's called a CHART (as noted on the Anticraft, and on the chart I printed out and have been referring to constantly. Oooh - balance tips in favor of an idiocy determination). The written out instructions on the Anticraft didn't trigger a correction in my mind because that's written for knitting in the round, not back and forth, like I'm doing. Turns out, Debbie Stoller has already explained how to read a chart simply in her book, Stitch n' Bitch, which I own! Only I couldn't find it because I didn't realize that the grid is actually a CHART. Reading a chart is different than I would have assumed. I was correct that you need to reverse the stitches, but you're also reading right to left for some rows and reading left to right for others. I feel fairly confident I would have really screwed up if I tried to read the chart the correct way.

Oh well, my knitting presents yet another opportunity for me to practice a sort of Buddhist acceptance. Only I'm a Christian and I'm looking for forgiveness and while it's similar, it's not the same thing. Part of me wants the redemption promised by Christ by ripping back and re-knitting. I cannot move forward from this sin in a state of grace because that would mean changing to the correct pattern, which would look really weird - so "go out and sin no more" doesn't work in this case. I'm stucking repeating my sin and I'm not sure how forgiveness works if you keep doing the same sin intentionally, and I'm not Catholic so I can't pull the Robert Hanssen of confessing it and then continuing (something tells me he twisted doctrine on that one, but it's not my doctrine, so how would I know?) Part of me wants to accept that what I'm doing, though different than my plan, is fine. And my hair is long and is going to cover half of the pattern anyway, and it's on my back, so it's not even like I'll be seeing it in the mirror.

Maybe I'll feel better if I stop showing everyone the picture of kvp's shrug and telling them that is what I'm doing.


Tammi said...

You crack me up, girl! :-)

Anonymous said...

It's only knitting, not a test of character. This is called making a design decision. Do you like what you've been doing? If so, onward. If not, pull it out. You will do more than a little pulling stuff out as a knitter. But there is also accidentally doing something right. Oh, and mock rib is easy. Another time for that.

Marjorie said...

thanks for the perspective! I'd like to call it a decision, but it was a mistake and I am working my way through the stages of grieving - I was in denial for a long time. I am disappointed that it's not vine-y looking and is more geometric, but I want to finish the shrug. It's on back anyway. I probably would have been fine with the mock rib, but I wouldn't have learned about using a chart.

The Solley Five said...

if only i were on ravelry i could link to see this inspiring kvp shrug. member that shrug i wanted to make- what happened to that idea? can you just make it for me? i want a brown one.
i can't wait to see how this turns out. (your shrug...i mean. I can wait a week or two for mine.)
you are a knitting fiend!