Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Knitting Post-Production

My first mother bear is has reached completion.

If you are wondering why its legs are stubby, the reason is that I missed a line in the pattern that would have added an additional 14 rows to both legs. I sort of love the stubby legged version of a mother bear, and I have it confirmed by the mother bear organization that they are okay with the change. Still, this may be the only dwarf-sized bear I make, if only because it was created due to mishap rather than intention. The pattern itself is simple (barring missing entire lines of instruction), but it does necessitate a lot of finishing, namely grafting or faux grafting, picking up stitches, a running stitch along the neck, “pinching” the ears, and embroidering the face, as well as stuffing the bear through its head opening before the rest of finishing can proceed.


There are books out there about the gloriousness of finishing, and I’m half convinced the authors of those books are on psychotropic medication. I don’t see how else they could think finishing is anything but a necessary evil.

Finishing is something I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about when knitting. Generally, I despise seaming, picking up stitches (though not as much as I hate seaming), and blocking. Essentially, the only part of knitting that I actively enjoy is the actual knitting. I also love seeing a finished object I have cared enough about to go through the tedium and time-consuming task of finishing. Oddly, I have a fondness for embroidery and duplicate stitch, nonetheless.

Even so, finishing is just as important as the knitting itself. I have botched more than enough instances of grafting to know that no matter how lovely your stitch definition is, your sweater will look plain bad if you don’t have patience in the sewing up and picking up at seams and collars. I’ve had to frog many a hasty arm hole sleeve starts due to speedy negligence. I cringe to think how my sweaters would have turned out if I had simply went with the first finishing attempt.

Here’s the right way to do it: Knit all the pieces, and then, do not sew them up right after you get done. Wait a day and start the task with a fresh rather than frantic mind. Learn the technique required, and if you miss up, rip it out and start again.

Have a rough idea of crab stitch and plan to make your best guess? Back off. Instead, research the technique until you understand it thoroughly. Take the time to practice if it has the potential to ruin all your hard work if you do it wrong the first time.

And by Thor, if there is a noticeable mistake you can’t live with, go back and redo that bit before finishing. You can’t go back after, and you will never forgive yourself later, no matter how much you want to hold a finished object in your grasp.

As for my mother bear, I stuffed it and I sewed up the head. I threaded thin strands of black yarn on a sharp tapestry needle and I used satin stitch to embroider pupils and nose and backstitch to do the outline of the eyes and the smile. I loved the stubby legs so I didn’t worry about my bear’s dwarfism. Every bear’s unique, after all, just like every person is.

Then, I rushed the ears. I didn’t sit and really get what was implied in “pinching” them, despite my prep work before I started in on the bear pattern in the first place. I admit that they didn’t turn out like a lot of the ears I see in the mother bear website pictures, but they do look like ears. Plus, I have learned a valuable ear-making lesson for when I start in on my second bear.

Even so, I’m happy I didn’t rush the finishing on the Austen baby bonnet. It is all finished now, right down to the string that ties at the baby’s chin. I sat on the instructions for making that string and just thought it out until I got it. Then, it hit me. I was trying to figure out how to attach the string to the base of the bonnet, near the neckline, but the instructions clearly say it goes at the cast-on edge. You may recall, as I did then, that the main section of the bonnet was done top down, starting with the faux-picot edge eyelet trim. I twisted three sections of the yarn until they plied together, then I knotted them together at both ends and slipped the whole string through the empty space between the eyelets and the caston edge. That cast on was made for that string to fit right in, like the string in a sweatshirt hood. To the very end, I was thrilled with the level of genius incorporated into that hat.

Finshing: I may not like it, but I like the look of a finished object when it's done right.

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