Friday, 23 August 2013

Mending, Ripping out and Editing...Birds of a Feather

As I’m sitting here in my comfortable chair, my feet on the ottoman, my laptop resting on my legs, I’m trying to get my head into the editing job I need to complete. I’ve already laid my head back and dozed for a few minutes, so I know the editing is just not going to get done today.

Editing reminds me of equally burdensome chores with other hobbies of mine.

Take sewing. I love the feel of new fabric; it’s so fresh and full of possibilities. It’s fun to plan what I going to sew, and see it to completion. I’ve made quilted doorstops, rag quilts, curtains and probably way too many totes for the kids.

I love sewing, I hate mending. And as much as I hate mending, I hate picking apart seams when I’ve made a mistake and need to start over.

I crochet like a demon, but there are times I need to undo what I’ve done, and go back to the beginning. In crochet there’s one hook, with one stitch on that hook, so ripping out is an easy thing, just a waste of time and effort.

And then there’s knitting. I’m a show don’t tell kind of person, definitely a visual learner. My knitting is self taught, and it’s taken me years to get the hang of it, so long as I keep to the KISS principal, Keep It Simple Stupid.

A few years ago I took on an onerous project. I was going to make everyone in the family a knitted ‘something’ for Christmas. Knitting was more popular with the younger folks who associated crochet with granny wear, and therefore thought it unfashionable.

I found a nice and relatively simple pattern for my daughter, a cardigan with a shawl collar, perfect for a spring or fall day. I bought a heather tone yarn in purple, her favourite colour and started in February, giving myself lots of time to finish before Christmas.

The back was simple, just a matter of reducing stitches on each side for the raglan sleeve. Piece of cake, I thought, wondering why I’d been afraid to tackle a project like this. I even got the one front piece done, which was more of a challenge. I worked the ribbing, started the body, added the pocket and kept the front edge border neat with its different pattern of stitches.

The hard part came when I had to reduce stitches on the arm side, something like one stitch every four rows. At the same time I had to add stitches to the front edge to create the shawl collar, maintaining the pattern of the front border, and do it at a different rate than the raglan sleeve edge.

I like those simple patterns that are increase or decrease at both sides, at the same time. The only way I could manage was to write out the pattern, row by row, and cross it out as I’d completed a row.

Any expert knitter, like my sister-in-law, would laugh at such a thing, but whatever gets the job done I say.

So, I had the back and one front piece completed and was on a roll. On to the other front piece. Buttonholes! What do you mean, buttonholes?

Working from the bottom, ribbing first, then stockinette stitch, keeping the pattern on the front edge, but now I had to allow for evenly spaced buttonholes. Then I came to the part where I had to decrease on the sleeve edge and increase for the collar, and was finally done with the buttonholes.

After that the sleeves were nothing. I had all the sweater pieces finished and sat down to sew it all together, and voila, a sweater that even my fussy daughter would love.

As I pulled the leftover yarn from my bag, I found a completed square knit from that same purple. What was this? Oh no, I couldn’t believe it. I laid the completed sweater out on the bed, and realized the piece in my hand was the right side pocket lining. So involved with the buttonholes, I’d omitted the pocket.

I never did fix the pocket, but gave it to her as is. I didn’t have the heart to rip it all out and do it again, once was enough. She’d never notice, would assume it was just the style. She didn’t sew, crochet or knit, so what did she know?

She loved it, and actually wore it, a sure sign of success. But as I write this I realize the sweater I’m knitting my granddaughter is the first thing I’ve knit in two years. This pattern has straight edges, no raglan sleeves, no buttons and no inset pockets. It’s a pullover, worked in garter stitch with one large hoodie type pocket on the front, applied after the sweater is done.

I guess that knitting nightmare still haunts me. Maybe if I finish this sweater I'll be ready to tackle another knitting project. But not for Christmas, I’ll plan ahead, get a jump on 2014.

I’ve had my break, done some writing, something new and fresh, now back to the damn editing.

If I ever get it done, I’ll celebrate. I’ll have earned it.

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