Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Smartest Knitting Trick of '06 (so far)

I don't really expect to see a more clever or more useful technique in the second half of the year, either.

This is from someone named S. Kate, and full coverage of the event is on Stephanie's blog. (I'm still in about 98% blog blackout, so don't anyone be offended that I'm not reading yours, but someone pointed me to this.) Kate had a lace problem:

(Don't expect to see the error; this is actually a photo from the nearly-fixed stage; there's no "before" photo. But this gives you an idea of the challenge and the goal.)

So she did the brave and ambitious thing:

That is, she ravelled back the area where the problem was, planning to fix the problem and then re-knit the area instead of ripping back the whole project 16 rows.

The beauty part is this:

This is a swatch of the pattern area in question, in which each row has been worked in a different color. The brown strands are all the plain purl rows, and then the different colors each represent a different pattern row. Now Kate has a reference point that shows where every strand should go from one stitch to the next, and it's color-coded so that she can tell which thread twists in which direction around which other. I want to draw your attention particularly to the spots right above the yarnovers, where brown yarn twists around gold or blue. Those are double yarnovers, which may be the trickiest part of an operation like this.

Is this brilliant, or what? Among the things I like about it: you really don't have to do it ahead of time. That is, if you tend (as I do) to drop the stitches back pretty casually, assuming that you'll just knit them right back up with no trouble--and then find that you're wrong, and having lots of trouble--it's o.k. to stop right there, put the work aside, and make your swatch. It's just as useful when you've botched the fix as it is when you're only dealing with the original simple mistake.

This makes it different from a lifeline, which works well as long as you use it--that is, as long as you take the time to put it in as you go. You can add a lifeline later, but it's much more difficult, and much more prone to error, than if you'd done it when you were supposed to. The lifeline works best for those who demonstrate the maturity to recognize that they're going to need it--as opposed to those of us who pretend that we're not going to make mistakes.

That's today's lesson in laceknitting and human nature.

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