Looking back over the last 4 years of my incarnation as a Serious Knitter, it’s quite clear now that learning to make socks was a line of demarcation in my evolution into Serious Knitterhood. That first pair was tough. I sweat actual beads of perspiration as I struggled to learn a variety of new skills. Manuevering dpns, comprehending short rows, picking up stitches, kitchenering. These were each skills that would later be transferred to a variety of patterns, but they would be piece of cake easy because I had learned them through sock-making.
I remember clearly that I thought I’d never be able to make a pair of socks without those pesky ladders. Everyone said to just snug the first two stitches really tight each time I changed needles. I snugged for all I was worth, and still those ladders crept in. It wasn’t until Pair Number 4 that the ladder problem simply didn’t exist. I realize now that I was so busy worrying about about all the little pattern details and keeping them straight, that issues of tension simply got put on the back burner. By the fourth pair, I snugged like a pro. My comfort level was strong, and the tension, or lack of it, surrounding those ladders was no longer impaired.
I suspect when I look back on it later, my current experience with knitting an aran bag will be a similar line of demarcation in the evolutionary climb up the Serious Knitter ladder. (Not to be confused with the sockknitting ladder.) I am now halfway through the bag. It is quite clear that the nice diamond in the middle of the bag doesn’t look quite like the diamond Sarah intended us to knit. I am clearly doing something other than what the directions are telling me to do, and since I’ve been enamoured of doing this without using a cable needle, I went back to using one to see if I could analyze how it might be different. Several emails and a phone call with Sarah have me straightenedout. I now know what I’m doing wrong. But I am quite comfortable being wrong, since it just looks different....not wrong.
(Insert an imaginary photo here; I’m trying to get a good close-up of the diamond to show you all how it looks just fine, even though it isn’t what the pattern calls for. But all the camera shows is just a blobby, undefined sort-of diamond. It looks awful in a photo. Maybe I’m fooling myself into thinking it looks okay.)
In fact, no one outside of Sarah, and the people who have taken her class, would recognize that my pattern is not quite right. Of course a lot of people have taken her class, so if I use the bag anywhere around Lansing, everyone will know. They may stare and point and whisper and snigger about my inability to follow simple directions. (THERE WAS NOTHING SIMPLE ABOUT THESE DIRECTIONS!!!) So what. I will be secure in the knowledge that I have simply modified the pattern to create a new design element. And if I use the bag out of town, people will point and stare and gush with admiration. (Unless I’m just fooling myself into thinking it looks okay.)
But it’s a humbling experience, just the same. I’m also finding the same issues with tension while I learn other new skills. Sarah includes a section in the directions about what to do if we encounter loose stitches after the cables. Just snug a bit more tightly she says. I’m snugging my heart out and still those loose stitches persist in hanging around. This time though, I’m confident that when I start Bag Number 2, that problem will no longer be around.
And yes, there will be a Bag Number Two, immediately after Bag Number One. I have a strong desire to achieve a higher level of perfection on this bag. I decided early on that I would not start over when I realized I had mistakes. There are time constraints to be considered. There are other projects that need attention and they have time constraints too. And my choice of yarn for this bag turned to be poor for stitch definition. It’s easy to ignore the errors because they aren’t all that obvious. Even if I started over and did it perfectly, the cable designs would still be pretty fuzzy. So I’ll get all the kinks out with my practice bag, which will be quite useful and serviceable and even neat-looking, and then I’ll aim for perfection on the second time around.
I’m curious to know from other aran knitters....what do you consider the very best yarn to use for great cables?