Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Project investment and UFOs

Has it really been two weeks since my last entry? It's not like I've been off doing great things, nor have I been sick or incapacitated. I guess life is just being life and ticking by.

So my entry today is titled "Project Investment and UFOs." All projects, whether they're sewing, knitting or remodeling projects, require an investment of time and materials. If the materials must be purchased, then the project requires money too. I generally don't start a project until I've done my homework (although there are many times when I've purchased the materials without doing enough homework). Having done my research beforehand, my expectation then is that the completed project, given good workmanship along the way, will meet my satisfaction. But what happens when I discover that the project is not going as expected? At what point do I cut my losses (of time and money) and stop. And what do I do with the UnFinished Object? Or do I finish the project and consider the time invested in the project as added experience?

These are questions I am asking myself today because I have two knitted projects that I'm not especially fond of. Of course I've also encountered this dilemma with my sewing projects. But since sewing is laying low at the moment, my attention is on my knitting projects.

I finally finished the big knitted gift. Yippee! Ok, I'll just say what it is. The recipient might not be reading this and it's a surprise no matter whether she reads it here or opens the box. I made a baby blanket. The ends are woven in and it's ready to be washed. But I'm not all that pleased with it and I'm having second thoughts about sending it. It's a gift and I wanted it to be nice, but I think it just turned out okay. It's big (about 34x45) and I do like the texture of the seed stitch despite the fact that it probably took three times as long to knit because of having to flip the yarn back and forth between every stitch. Note to self: no more large seed stitch projects. Ever. The thing I don't like about the blanket is the yarn. It's an acrylic that is kinda plastic feeling. I had the yarn in my stash and it was always intended to be a baby blanket, but the recipient was supposed to be someone else and I never got around to it. So when I wanted to make a gift for my friend's new baby, this yarn immediately came to mind. I figured that acrylic yarn would be fine because baby blankets need to be mega-washable. However, since I started this project, I have become much more educated about yarn. I learned that washable yarn doesn't have to feel like plastic. I learned that if yarn doesn't feel good to knit with, the finished product probably won't feel so good either.

Sigh. Since I don't have anything else to send and I spent four months knitting it, I will probably send the blanket. It'll be ok, I guess. I don't believe my friend knits or crochets and if she does, I don't think she's a yarn snob who'd wrinkle her nose at my creation and never use it. But I feel a bit sad that I spent so much time on it and I'm not proud of the results. I should have quit after the first 20 rows when I decided I didn't like the feel of the yarn. I should have donated the crappy yarn and bought something nicer to knit the blanket with. Shoulda...woulda...coulda...

Project dilemma #2: a six year old UFO. Similar problem. The yarn is not the best. This one is mostly acrylic with nylon and wool. I bought two big bags of the yarn because it was on clearance. I could have afforded better but I didn't know any better. Six years ago my knitting was limited to airline flights and night shifts spent monitoring a satellite shortly after it was launched. Yes, really. Here's a picture of me in (knitting) action:

Those were long, boring shifts. This picture was taken around 4 am. I was going to send the picture into Knitter's magazine - hence the prominently displayed issue of Knitter's.

I finished the back and almost one sleeve and then stuffed it in a bag where it stayed until last week. Our knitting meetup decided to have a UFO-themed get-together to encourage us to finish those pesky UFOs, so I dragged it out. I spent a good hour just trying to figure out where I left off but I did manage to get a few more rows of the sleeve completed. I've since finished the sleeve and I started on the front but not only have I discovered my gauge has changed a bit, I'm not 100% happy with the yarn. Now that I've discovered yarns like Manos Del Uruguay and Brooks Farm and Rowan Cashcotton and so many others, this yarn just doesn't measure up. I'm knitting it to finish it. I'm knitting it because maybe I'll enter it in the Stitches student fashion show next year along with the above picture of me, the rocket scientist, knitting it during a satellite launch (well, after the launch). I also might need to employ some of the techniques I learned in a sweater altering class I took at Stitches this year to redo the trim on the back and sleeve so the gauge matches the newly knitted front. Eh, it makes for a good story and since they gave a gift certificate to a woman who showed off her handspun (by her) sweater, maybe they'll be generous after hearing my silly story.

Will I wear the sweater? I don't know. While I still like the style of both the sweater and the stitch, I don' t love the style, which is dropped shoulder sleeves, boxy with no shaping. I certainly don't envision it becoming a favorite sweater. If it fits, I'll wear it. The only adult-sized garment I knit for myself was a vest I did over 20 years ago. I did wear it and would wear it again if I were still the size I was 20 years ago. So I don't have much experience wearing sweaters I've knitted.

Should I stop knitting the sweater and return to Liv, knit in the very soft and lovely Rowan Cashcotton, or the mittens I started in a luscious red merino wool? The Brooks Farm Primero beckons. So does the bamboo I bought at Stitches. I guess I'm wondering if the Knitter's sweater is worth the investment. I do need the knitting practice. What would you do? I'm itching to buy some Rowan Summer Tweed for a pattern I picked up at Stitches, so I'm sort of making a bargain with myself. Finish the sweater and I can reward myself with the summer tweed. But at the same time I want to enjoy my knitting.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, dilemmas! The baby blanket may feel better to you after a wash. Sometimes it helps, even with acrylic.

    As for the UFO... If you want to finish, you might think about swatching again and using a different needle size so you can get close on the front rather than messing with all the other pieces. But if you don't love the yarn and you don't love the sweater it's going to be... life is too short.

    Can you give yourself permission to drop it and make that the lesson of this UFO? Some UFOs are not meant to be finished. I can tell you the story of the doomed fairisle next time I see you.

    Knitting should be restorative, not a punishment. If you can't love that UFO, I think you should find a way to let it go. And be free!