20140319

Place Alpha Zero



After writing up a heavily technical post filled with knitting jargon and shop talk, it occurred to me that those of you that would understand it would just be hearing what you already know: calculations can only take you part of the way, but you have to dive in and just do it if you want to see how well a project will turn out.

When I bought Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Without Tears a while back from Amazon, there was this customer review on there that still bugs the crap out of me to this day. The customer bashed the book for not giving step by step instructions or tables for the percentage system, and how Zimmermann's conversational approach to patterns was basically inappropriate.

But that's not what knitting is about, is it? That's not what knitting is to me, anyway. I've come to realize that within the community of knitters, I'm in that minority who believe in technique more than pattern. I don't need a pattern to tell me how to increase or decrease, pick up a selvedge, or even to graft an under arm. As knitters, we should already know how to do these things, and if we don't, well this is the Internet Age, isn't it? There are so many resources out there that (at least in my opinion) explicitly concise pattern writing comes off as a demonstration of over-thinking, much like the way this blog post initially started before I came to my senses, and started typing these rambling sentences. I write like I knit.




So this pullover started out, really, as a curiosity. I had always wanted to knit a sweater, but the last time I tried it, I killed the project. This time, I just happened to be knitting along on some giant thing that really didn't have a pre-determined outcome. Mainly, I was interested in seeing how the angular transitions I tend to do would translate to higher stitch counts. Once I completed it, however, I realized that this circular thing I'd just made was a perfect fit for my chest. At that point I casted on some sleeves. I wanted to use up this yarn anyway.

As things progressed, I started over-thinking things (like a shawl collar that didn't work out), trying other things, and ultimately ended up back where Zimmermann had initially led me to: a Seamless Raglan Sweater. Were there hiccups along the way? Yes. They were technical, so I looked up the answer. Was it a lot of work? Yes, especially after joining the body and sleeves into a humongous row of stitches. Did I learn something? Well, Duh.

Regardless of the size of a project, there is a constant truth: what you are knitting is a confluence of various techniques. Each technique has variations. What you decide to perform is entirely up to you. That's the beauty of handmade clothing. Research the technique, practice the craft, unify the elements. And be creative enough to make up your own mind when you have to.