Thursday, August 7, 2008

Unlaced

I think it may be time to own up to the fact that I'm just not a lace knitter.

Yes, lace is gorgeous. Yes, I drool over everyone else's amazing lace shawls (I'm looking at you, FairyGodKnitter). Yes, I love silky, perfect laceweight yarn, and the fact that you can knit a whole project in really awesome yarn for thirty bucks or less. In fact, I love everything about lace knitting...

...right up until I cast on.

I mean, literally, until I cast on. Because the cast on alone makes my head pound. It doesn't matter if you start with 3 stitches or 3000. Casting on with laceweight is no fun. The yarn is so skimpy and light, I feel like I'm wearing clown gloves and manipulating dental floss with toothpicks. And it pretty much goes downhill from there. I don't seem to have the necessary attention span to deal with lace patterns. I've tried line-by-line instructions and charted instructions. I've tried writing each line on its own index card and using a clever little magnet board to mark the rows on the chart. I've tried row counters and stitch counters. I've marked each repeat with its own stitch marker and recited "ssk, yarn over, knit one, yarn over, knit two together" until I can do it in my sleep.

And still, ten minutes in, I realize my brain has checked out and my hands have gone off on their own tangent, and whatever I have on my needles, it bears no resemblance to the pattern. And then I start to wonder--after about the tenth time I've tinked back the second row--why I'm even bothering. It's not like I know what to do with a lace project anyway. I've never worn a shawl in my life. Not once. I'm not even sure how to put one on, or where I'd wear it. Seeing as how my everyday wardrobe consists entirely of yoga pants and t-shirts (for summer) and sweatpants and turtlenecks (for winter), it's hard to imagine an outfit of mine that would benefit from the addition of a lace shawl. (We'll just leave the issue of the state of my wardrobe for another day, shall we?)

Yeah, I've done some lace sweaters. They are more wearable, and are often worked in heavier weight yarns, which is a plus in my book. But there's still the matter of the instructions. And my lack of attention span. And the snail-like pace at which I work lace patterns. Like this, for instance.

I cast this on four days ago. This is the sum total of my progress. Twelve rows. In four days. I took it to my son's football practice. I spent two hours on it and got half a row done. I knitted the row about 12 times. And un-knitted it the same twelve times. I was sitting with another mom. I can't talk and knit lace at the same time. I worked on it while watching "So You Think You Can Dance", which I have come to privately think of as "So You Think You Can Knit." I can't. At least, I can't knit lace while watching tv. I worked on it while supervising my son's homework. We were both exasperated by the end of that session. In order to successfully knit lace, I seem to need complete silence with no distractions of any kind. Which happens about as often around here as winning the lottery. Less often, actually. My husband did once win 1500 bucks in the lottery.

So I'm in a bit of a quandry. I do love this sweater, in the sense that I want to own it. I do not love this sweater in the sense that I am enjoying knitting it. In fact, I am fantasizing about working a garter stitch afghan in bulky acrylic, which may indicate how much I'm not liking working this lace pattern on size 5 needles.

I'm not one to abandon a project lightly. I feel a sense of obligation to the project once I've cast it on. Abandoning it is almost like taking a pet to the pound. Well, okay, maybe not that bad, but you get the point. Still, the purpose of knitting for me--for most of us--is enjoyment. And I am not enjoying making this sweater, although I do want to finish it so that I can wear it.

So the question is, what to do? What do you do when you're not enjoying a project? Finish it for the sake of finishing it? Finish it so you can wear it? Stuff it in the back of the stash closest until you forget all about it? Or rip that sucker and move on?

20 comments:

Tracy said...

All of the aforementioned, except I don't finish for finishing sake. Life is too short and there are waaaaay too many other things that would be fun to do. I'm selfish that way.

I too need quiet solitude while knitting lace.

I feel your pain. Hmm didn't I say that in my last comment too?? lol

btw I think I got that 8-legged abomination residing somewhere beneath my bed, no bites last night!

FairyGodKnitter said...

I usually stuff the project in a bag until I'm over the pain and can rip it out. But, I have a few things that have been in bags for more than a year.
At least you know after 12 rows. I usually am nearly done before I lose the love.
And I'll have to send you a shawl sometime. Now I'm going to enjoy my evening figuring out what to knit for you.

Maureen said...

But you made Icarus....beautifully AND rather quickly. Maybe just pretend this lace sweater is for someone else ;)

punkin said...

My vote is rip it and move on. Maybe it is because I enjoy the process of knitting. If it is a chore from the outset, then I say rip it and use the yarn for something you will enjoy knitting.

Tammy said...

I'm with fairygodknitter. Put it out of sight for awhile and move on. Give it a few weeks in the closet, maybe you'll be in the mood for it later. If not, rip it. There are too many great things to knit to get tangled up in something you don't love.

SusanJane said...

Hide it carefully in the closet and knit something else with great concentration, kind of like a cat washing itself after being embarrassed. When enough time has pased, re-purpose the yarn, either into something you like (a scarf?) or something someone else likes, which CAN include giving the yarn away just as yarn. Either way, it's cheaper than therapy. And we won't tell anybody.

Anonymous said...

I have decided that life if much too short to knit, read, watch, bead or do anything else along those lines that you aren't enjoying. The whole point is to have fun, not beat yourself over the head. Save the yarn for something else and move on.

stitchywitch said...

I usually stick it in a bag in the closet, never to be seen again unless I decide I want the yarn. I figure knitting is supposed to be fun, so I don't keep on if I hate it (although I have a hard time admitting my failure and removing things from my ravelry queue!)

toni in florida said...

Rip it and move on. Don't knit anything that isn't fun from the get-go. We all know that any project can get un-fun when you're well into it and just want it done, but if it starts out as no fun and then gets frustrating and annoying? Who needs that?

Stephanie said...

I think that you should move on. Even though you love a finished project does not mean you have to make it yourself. And you are in knitting for the enjoyment, no?

I understand the pain of doing that however, as I too usually do not want to give up on my projects. Take my chevron scarf attempt for example. I didn't rip it until I found another use for the yarn - weaving!

Steph B said...

Maybe find another knitter who does love that sort of project, and see if you can work out a trade? Not me - I am sloooooooow - you'd be old and grey before you ever saw the finished product. But surely there's someone out there you could work with.

sophanne said...

The only thing that keeps me from ripping something is that I want to "conquer the challenge." Then i realize- who cares- there are other challenges- ones that I'll enjoy. Rip it! Rip it Good!

Andrea said...

What do I do? I hide some place where I know I won't see it. But it's always presente in my mind. And I feel guilty. And I end up taking it out and ripping it like three years later or so.

So... common sense shoul be to rip it and never give it a second thought, right.

Knit something you like. It's supposed to be fun!

Sheri said...

Rip that sucker and move on. The only thing you will remember about that project when you finish it is how mush you hated knitting it. I love to knit lace, but i have special music on my ipod I have to listen to. No words AT ALL to distract me and the tv has to be off. Usually I lock myself in the guest room.

janewd25 said...

Move on - life's too short!

5elementknitr said...

I rip. If I'm not loving making it, and it's a stressful struggle the whole time - I just feel like it's going to remind me of that stress every time I wear it.

I'm with you on the lace knitting with laceweight. Not likin' it. Going to finish the shawl I started for my mom and going to do a shrug thingy for me. After that, the only lace I'll do is in a sweater. I like lace in sweaters.

The A.D.D. Knitter said...

Yes, that lace cast-on is a BITCH!! I say bag it and work on something you ENJOY:)

Karen said...

I used to make myself finish things I didn't enjoy working on. I have no idea why. Now I never knit something I am not enjoying. Ever.

Fibra Artysta said...

Rip it and move on. Life is too short to spend time on painful knitting.

I'm attempting my first lace project and have been smacked down a few times already. I'm super stubborn, I will conquer it. Oh yes, I will. I will...

Kim said...

I'm with most of the commenters: rip it & move on. If you don't enjoy the process, it just isn't going to get finished. I'm the same way attention span wise and it's doubtful I'll even knit a big lace project. Plus who wants to knit for two hours and finish only a few rows. Grrrr.