I’m a very by-the-book person, I like to follow recipes and I like to be told exactly what I need to do, to the last detail. Things like cooking simply don’t come naturally to me and I don’t trust my skills or feeling enough to improvise on the spot. I think it’s mainly because I lack experience in it. Once I get really good at cooking by the book, I tell myself, then I’ll be confident enough to experiment.
Similarly with knitting. I’m in no rush to start making up designs or altering other people’s designs to a great extent. I’m still gathering my experience, learning skills, figuring out what does what and what happens when I do this and what are the mistakes you can easily make with that, etc. As for whether knitting comes naturally to me, well, most of it doesn’t. I enjoy it and utterly adore it (have you noticed maybe? :) but most of it is a learned skill which I am perfecting as I go. I may have a knack for it, but it definitely doesn’t come naturally.
Except for one thing. The skill I adore because I get it. It just goes. I seem to understand it on some instinctive level, and all that hesitation because of lack of experience or fear of making a mistake simply disappears when it comes to it. I don’t have the slightest worry about improvising when it comes to it. I trust my feeling. My fingers know what they’re doing. Picking up stitches is my thing.
And let me tell you, the freedom provided by that feeling is amazing! I guess that’s what all the masters-at-improvising feel like all the time. Nevermind though, I cherish my moment. :) And lately I’ve been casting on (by coincidence) a lot of projects which involve picking up. I was going to show you photos of this one on the pick-up round, but I got a little carried away – sorry. :)
There was also another reason – picking up stitches on this project wasn’t easy (as it usually is). Here’s the thing – when writing a pattern that involves picking up, designers can incorporate some features which make it easy later to see where you should reach for the stitch and easy to put your needles through the spot. For example, they can have you slip the last stitch of every other row, which makes a nice little loose edge to pick up from later. They can also do some math and give some thought to the number of stitches you’ll need to pick up, and to the fact that this number should correspond to the number of spots you pick up from. I once worked on a baby pullover where the stitches for the sleeves were picked up from the main body of the pullover. The pattern said “Pick up so and so stitches in the space of 5cm each side of the shoulder seam.” Which would’ve been fine, except that the number of stitches that I picked up on every attempt was so and so minus 15! The designer just hadn’t done their math. Yeah I could have crammed the stitches and picked up several from the same spot, but that would have made the sleeves puffy, which definitely hadn’t been the designer’s intention. I trusted my instinct and picked up the natural number of stitches. It worked out well.
On this project I had to trust my instincts again. The designer hadn’t thought of the slipped stitch trick, so by the end of the 111 picked up stitches my fingers were aching from the shoving and pushing they had to do through tight spots. As for the math, I had to work it out on my own because of a slight difference in gauge. It wasn’t the slightest bit of a problem. I just followed my instinct which told me I could modify this.
And from here onwards it’s going to be just stockinette and decreases. And very soon, there will be a finished hat. :) Since I’m taking a plane ride today, it should really be very soon. I’ll be back on Sunday, with lots to show you, I hope. Have a wonderful weekend – Thursday’s as good a day to start it as any! ;)