Friday, December 14, 2012

Ugly Hand-knits, or Halloween in December

Recently I went out to breakfast with my DH, and was slightly horrified to note 4 different hideous handknits within my view at the restaurant.  4:0 to the bad knitting.  Usually when I see hand-knitted pieces in public, I'm delighted.  And there was nothing to like about these pieces, so I started paying very close attention. 

There was a man walking a Black Lab mix in obviously hand-knit gloves in stunning yarn that appeared to be hand-dyed.  Not spectacular, but attractive enough to have caught my attention.  One in the good column.

Horrific cowl, knit in very pilled extra bulky acrylic, with impressive numbers of mistakes and inadvertent dropped stitches.  1:1

Puke-green scarf on a passerby that appears to be someone's first knitting project.  Every row was of a different length, and every stitch was a different size and shape.  2:1 on the bad side.  This was paired with a floppy hat in multiple mismatched yarns of approximately the same color, but different weights and fibers.  3:1 since I left the restaurant, and 7:1 for the morning.  Wake me from the nightmare!  What's going on?

It makes you wonder if there is a way to go back in time in knitting to find out what the story is.  When you're renovating an apartment, as you peel back layers of wallpaper, or pull up the floor, you see some of the history of the place, and see the choices made by previous owners.  You can see what the architect or previous interior designer had going on.  Where did the onslaught of ugly knits come from?  What were they thinking?  I'll never know what happened, but I'll hazard a few guesses.

1) People don't realize that sometimes a piece of knitwear needs to retire.  If it's pilled and misshapen, and blocking it and shaving it don't help, retire it.  You don't want to turn heads in a bad way.

2) Colors that are pretty in the store don't necessarily coordinate with your wardrobe, and a piece that looks good with a black pea coat may not look good with a plaid sport jacket.  It's fine to have a favorite scarf, but think about coordinating it with the rest of your outerwear.

3) If you're going to knit a small object in a fat yarn, like a cowl in super bulky, realize that every individual stitch is a huge percentage of the whole.  Mistakes will scream at you up close, and still be visible at a social distance.  These are not the mistakes to ignore!  Fix 'em when you see 'em.

4) Unless a pattern specifically calls for you to change fiber size and fiber type in the middle of a garment, don't do it without swatching, or at least looking at the different yarns in natural light.  Things look very different in the daylight than they do indoors.

The good news is that day was an aberration.  Life has returned to normal, and handmade knits that are lovely once again are the norm.  I'm glad you didn't see it.  It was frightening!

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