When “Alterknits” first came out last year I was so excited. I could hardly wait to get my hands on it. In fact, I ordered it from Amazon because I was too impatient to wait for it to arrive in the local Borders or Barnes and Noble. What a gorgeous book! The photos and editorial styling is amazing. I agree with many readers who say that the creativity exercises leave something to be desired, but that’s a small enough issue to overlook when there’s so much mouth-watering knitting to slobber over.
Every pattern appeals to me in one way or another, but the “tube scarf”–made of Rowan’s Kid Silk Haze with a length of chiffon inserted through the middle–appealed to my love of textures. And I’ve been longing to work with that particular yarn for a while. I had a burnt orange color in mind… something not-too-bright. Down to my LYS I went, and home I came with two balls of “Marmalade.” But in the light of day, it was so bright I knew I’d never wear it. Plus, I realized I didn’t buy enough.
Back to my LYS shop I went. Bought three balls of a luscious lavender color and did a quick swatch. All was well. I cast the project on during a three-hour swing dance my husband was playing, at Glen Echo Park, outside of DC. It was a cold night, and I wasn’t feeling well, so didn’t want to dance. Plus, my fingers were aching to dig into that yarn. I was using Denise needles at first, but the join–which usually doesn’t snag–caught in the yarn. So I eventually switched to Addi Turbos (size 8). Also, in the beginning, I’d decided to put in a couple of rows of eyelets (YO, K2Tog) on each end.
And I knit. And I knit. And I knit. The progress was slow.
As the wrap grew, I started to believe it didn’t want to be a wrap anymore. One evening it decided to be a “wimple”/neck-warmer. Was it the project speaking, or was it my impatience? No one (least of all me) will ever know. So I cast off and tried it on. I loved it, loved how the open work framed my face when I pulled it up over my head like a hood. I planned to buy some silk ribbon to criss-cross through the eyelets (like lacing a shoe) to snug it up around my neck…
But the next day (yesterday), I realized I’d made a mistake. I blamed my impatience for stunting the scarf’s growth. When I got home–despite all the warnings I’ve heard about mohair–I pulled out the bound-off edge (or tried to). Oh, my God! It bunched. It knotted. It didn’t unravel. The stitches seemed to migrate so I couldn’t tell one row from another. It was awful. Finally my husband, a kind and insightful man, stooped over and kissed me and said that no art was ever born without mistakes, and that he knew I’d find a way to turn it into something great.
Half an hour later I was stitching around the wrecked end with a yarn needle threaded with the same Kid Silk Haze I’d knitted the project with–looping the needle around the wrecked part and into the knitting in a spiral motion. I caught up all of the loose stitches and pieces of yarn, with the result being a kind of deconstructed, cool-looking flared hem. The length of the neck-warmer/wimple was still intact. But now it curved gracefully out over my shoulders, ending in that rolled, handkerchief-style edge that adds a bit of substance to the design.
Here’s a picture, with Maggie and Katja in the background…
I still plan to buy some leather lacing to weave through the eyelets. I like the idea of mixing leather with the gossamer-weight mohair and silk.
The moral of the story: Don’t make a mistake when you’re knitting with mohair because you can’t fix it. Don’t drop stitches, because you can’t pick them up later on. But if you do make a mistake, remember this: “All profoundly original art looks ugly at first.”–Clement Greenberg, art critic