Monday, March 14, 2011

A Changing Perspective

I started out this year with the idea that I wanted to learn new knitting techniques, which were reflected in my first projects of the year -- Entrelac and Brioche, but over the past few weeks, I've had a real revolution in thought.

First, it started out with me returning my attention to the drop spindle that I splurged on last August and forcing myself to learn how to properly draft. At the beginning of February, a gaggle of knitters ventured to Bloomfield Hills for Knit Michigan. We drove down the night before the event and hung out that evening -- attended a jazz performance at the DSO's Orchestra Hall and dinner downtown, and wrapped the evening up with a late-night knit-in. It just so happened that several in our group were also spinners. Not wanting to waste the opportunity of being able to have their (albeit captive) advice, I brought out my spindle and my small stash of fiber and started to ask questions. Michelle (who is often confused as being my sister) was more than happy to get me restarted. And away I went! The fiber shown in the photo is from roving that was dyed by my friend Rachel; it is 70% Alpaca, 15% Cormo, and 15% silk and I'm completely happy with the way its turning out. My problem right now is that I really don't know enough about the variety of fiber and blends that are out there to really get a handle on what I'd like. The pictured roving was a gift to me from my brother and his family for Christmas, which was very well chosen.

Knowing that I'm a virtual blank slate, I started out by vying for the February Phat Fiber box -- it had a "Gems & Minerals" theme, so it was totally meant to be! I can't wait to finish with the roving that's on the spindle to work the samples I received because there were some very interesting selections in my box (more on those as I spin it up).

Lastly, I signed up for Rachel's fiber club, where I'll receive 4 oz. of fiber in February, April, and June (plus some of her other farm-made goodies). Here's the February package and I'm sad to report that the chocolates didn't even make it home from the office. It was that kind of day. Anyhow, I was now stuck in a quandary -- I didn't want to wait to dig into my new fiber, but I also didn't want to completely lose what I was doing with the Christmas Day roving I had on my spindle. (Decisions!)

So, I caved. I started talking the crazy talk on Facebook, trying to recall what the wonderful Aussie made spinning wheel the Flock U gals had been talking about. I received some wonderful advice from my knitting friends -- some of whom surprised me b/c I didn't previously know that they spun. (Which just goes to show just how little attention I'm paying between screwing up the latest pattern and drinking my wine at the knit-ins!) The whole discussion thread culminated with Tracy delivering over that evening her loaner wheel. (Thanks for saving the day, Tracy!)

But the fun didn't end there! Friday, I had my second, and probably more important, epiphany (sorry to disappoint, spinners). On Friday, I attended a presentation given by Sally Melville for our Guild. Yes, the Sally Melville. Go ahead and start sending the hate mail, but I'll just come right out and say it, I've never knitted any of her patterns; I've thumbed through her "Knit Stitch" and "Purl Stitch" books, but didn't really see anything that I wanted to knit up. I've seen plenty of knitters working up the "Einstein Jacket", and just didn't catch the bug. However, during her lecture on Friday, something very important clicked -- recall that I wanted 2011 to be the year that I challenge myself. Here I was chasing what I normally consider challenges (new and interesting techniques), while what I really should be seeing as a challenge has been sitting in front of me post after post, project after project.

Why shouldn't I see it as a challenge to knit a sweater that I'll actually wear?

Why shouldn't I see it as a challenge to knit a sweater that fits me well?

I'll tell you this right now -- I have the yarn in my stash to knit five sweaters (and a shitload of yarn for other projects -- socks, toys, baby blankets, etc.). Of the sweaters, one that I had planned was a truly kick-ass Dale. I'm putting all of that on hold. It's time for me to take a step back and reflect on what I should be doing differently and to start that off (whatever it may be) with a few plain, understated sweaters.

I was so inspired by what I heard on Friday night that I immediately signed up to attend Sally's "Knit to Flatter and Fit" class that was taught on Sunday morning at Woven Art. I learned a few things about correctly taking my own measurements and what should be adjusted in the pattern to result in a decent fitting sweater.

In preparation for this weekend's Guild retreat, I pulled out a few of my UFOs; a couple of which are summer sweaters. I'm going to re-evaluate these and determine whether they should be torn out completely or can be salvaged. After a couple of measurements, I know now that the green sweater is about 2.5" too long. As for the pink sweater, I need to reread the directions b/c I have no clue where I'm at. If I'm not at or damn close to a bind-off edge, then it'll be too long also.

My questions to you guys: I'm committing myself to knitting three simple sweaters this year. What should they be? Any suggestions?

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