How to Fail at Knitting

24/11/2019 · 2 comments

in Fashion Fast,Knitting,Style

I knew I wanted to make the aran cardigan the minute I saw it. In January, following my fashion fast, we made a plan to have a bit of shopping fun in London. Visiting the ‘mothership’ of Liberty is a must. The shop is always in my heart. The mad, unique and eclectic collection of fashion, stationary, crockery… it goes on. To not visit would be disloyal to my childhood and identity.

On the top floor there is a discreet and rather rarefied haberdashery. Back in January they had a large and well displayed collection of Rowan yarns with a vast array of patterns. It was there that I spotted it. Gloriously laid out on a fine oak table. Heavy – detailed and luxurious. A creation worthy of heirloom status.

emma-varnam-cable-cardigan

I knew then I would make the Defuse Cardigan, designed by Kim Hargreaves – featured in her Pale Collection. Now this is not a design for the novice, the many cable stitches which repeat on different rows require concentration. It was not a mistake or a foolish ambition to add this design to my long ‘to-do’ list. But right then I made my first of two enormous mistakes. I should have chosen the yarn when I could see the shades in person. Instead I bought the pattern book and resolved to order the yarn online at a later stage.

It was weeks later that I chose the colour and made my purchase. It was quite an investment and the small shades samples online didn’t give me the correct impression of what I bought. Don’t get me wrong – the dusty mauve ‘Enchanted’, is very pretty. But the tone is way to muddy for my skin tone. I should have gone for a brighter tone.

emma-varnam-cable-cardigan

Ah well….silly girl. Undeterred I resolved to enjoy the start of knitting on our Lake District holiday in February. The gorgeous Alpaca is perfect for soft snugly knitting. Curled up, sat in a window seat with a hot cup of coffee by my side I began the fancy cable rib – stitching bliss.

emma-varnam-cable-cardigan

The whole project came and went over the next few months according to my commission commitments. It was only until I had finished the back, both sides and was mid-way through the second sleeve that I realised my catastrophic mistake. I had not read the pattern properly!!!!

Yes my friends…..even though I design patterns, even though I sometimes guide my followers to read the full pattern before you embark on the project…I didn’t heed my own advice.

emma-varnam-cable-cardigan

If you want to know how bad it was – basically I had done a rib on the sides of the garment instead of a moss stitch. What was I thinking! It made the whole garment far too narrow and failed to have all the pretty and traditional detail which moss stitch gives an aran design.

What would you have done? At this moment it is easy to give up. Pure frustration with your own stupidity can start to prick tears behind the eyes.

No…rip it back. The pattern was too pretty. The yarn too valuable. This won’t be, can’t be a discarded crumpled mess to be found by others in years to come. Plus, I enjoy the process, the physical stitching…if I can get past the private irritation of my own carelessness – why not enjoy the making process another time? So I pulled it right back. I finished the first sleeve. Went on to the second and then unraveled the back…..Oh the heartbreak. By the October half term I was on the home straight. The weather was getting cold again, which is a final consolation.

emma-varnam-cable-cardigan

This weekend I have finally completed this humongous task. The cable design is so so pretty, the yarn so soft….it is still not my colour. But I will wear it with pride (with a white blouse) a failed attempt, a rushed mistake, a lack to attention to detail, ripped back, re-set and redeemed. Its only a cardigan – but then knitting is never really about the finished item it always more than that – its what it teaches us – how to fail.

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