Baby Steps

I take baby steps as a knitter.  Partially, I take them to regain the knowledge I lost during my long hiatus from anything to do with art during college, law school, and the first crush of motherhood.  But I also have enough self-awareness to know that I seem to lack a certain adventureous spirit, in other words, yes gentle reader, I have to confess that I am a timid knitter.  I learn better by being shown than by reading books.  And were it not for late night help from many of the fine women at Knitty, many a project of mine would have stalled, perhaps for good.

So, I am inordinately pleased with myself (yes, I know vanity is a sin, but give me my one small moment of triumph here, for I suspect it may be fleeting), having done something new and previously a bit intimidating to me.  It was the Laguna sweater.  The pieces are all done.  All that needed to happen was the three needle bind off at the shoulder, picking up stitches along the neckline and knitting it in, and seaming the sides.  Then (as they say in my three year old’s Thomas The Tank Engine videos), there was trouble.

The three needle bind off was the start of my undoing.  Now, I’m aware of the need to bind off loosely, particularly in light of an earlier disaster involving a baby blanket.  But I thought I was loose.  The kids were in the tub — a particularly delightful melange of bubbles and chocolate fizzies — and I was three needle binding off for all I was worth.  Oh, the horror of it all.  There was no doubt.  Instead of neat, beautiful seams, they were…..gathered.

I tried to convince myself that I could treat it as a design feature.  After all, the sweater was a bit large.  I tried so hard.  I even picked up the neck stitches, but, ooooh!  Somehow I used needles that were way too large.  This was starting to look like a major disaster.

I am not a perfectionist.  I can put a fix on a mistake rather than frog 12 inches of stockinette.  Usually, I take that wonderful attitude that only God is perfect and move on.  But this was simply too much.  This morning I did it!  I frogged the neck, and then, although I have never before frogged bound off stitches, I frogged the three needle bind off and actually managed to pick up and replace all the original stitches without much greater in the way of mishap than a stitch or two that had to be picked up with some little sock needles that were most fortunately in my bag at the time.

If you have made it through this long, sad tale, you are probably shaking your head at the shame of the timid knitter.  But, you know….I’m feeling absolutely bold after this!  I’m going to finish up the sweater and forge ahead with the new projects that are waiting.  The best thing about knitting is that the little baby steps that take you forward leave you with such a huge feeling of self-worth and accomplishment. 


2 thoughts on “Baby Steps

  1. I loved reading that you are not a perfectionist. Over the years I have painfully watched my mother tear beautiful crocheted items apart because there was a mistake that I couldn’t even see. For some reason this perfectionist trait didn’t come down through the genes to me. I work similar to you, if I see a mistake that isn’t too big I just deal with it and move on. If anything the mistake in a handcrafted item it is a memory of making it. My knitting level is just one above a scarf. I started making my first “real” item two years ago and actually just picked it up after a long break. I too have to be shown how to do things rather than read them which is probably why I haven’t acheived more knitting projects and why scarves are so easy for me.

  2. Would it be helpful to you to arrange your stitches on one needle before attempting to do the bind off? If you used a circular needle you could pick up alternating stitches and then after you have them alligned- then you could k2tog and bind off from the other end of the needle. (Be sure to turn your sweater inside out first. btdt…) I just bound off some double knitting and I know what a muddle it can be to get all the stitches alligned for the k2tog!

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