Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hairy Loopy

I teach a finishing class. It's always popular, and it's always a lot of fun for me. The students invariably bring a bag or three containing various scrunched up projects in pieces, and we get to figure out how to turn those crumpled pieces into actual garments.

It's very gratifying, to see the garments come together -- and the sense of relief in the room is palpable, that this thing that the knitter worked so hard on will actually become what it was supposed to be.

Finishing isn't easy, and patterns aren't very helpful. Finishing instructions are given such short shrift in the pattern -- "assemble", "set in sleeves", "seam". And then, of course, the worst instruction of all, "pick up and knit 76 stitches around the neckline".

Some patterns are better than others, but in general, I find that you can never have too much detail in the finishing instructions.

So there I was, on Saturday morning, coffee in hand, surveying the contents of the (sometimes sheepishly unveiled) plastic bags.

And there it was. The Hairy Loopy sweater.

Mum's been working on a Fleece Artist kit, the Garter Stitch Cardigan. I've mentioned it before in the blog, I think. It's one of those very deceptive kits. It's a great design -- she tried a sample on, and it's a very wearable, very flattering piece. It's a simple shape, all the better to let the yarns themselves be the starring element. Very little shaping, very little finishing -- should be easy, right?

I distinctly recall the yarn shop owner we bought it from telling us that it was an easy project, a fun and quick knit. Yeah... not so much.

Mum calls it the Hairy Loopy sweater. (With capital letters, I can hear it in her voice.)

The yarn is very very challenging to work with. You work with a strand of mohair and a strand of the Fleece Artist "Curly Locks" yarn, held together. The mohair has that typically halo of fuzziness -- the Hairy -- and the Curly Locks has loops -- the Loopy.

The combination of the fuzziness and the loopiness means that it's tough to see the stitches, tough to be sure that you're actually working in the stitch and not with just an errant bit of hair or loop, and it's well-high impossible to undo if you make a mistake.

Mum's an excellent knitter, and it's been driving her insane. I've been doing the finishing for her, to help her out. And it's driving me insane, too. It's so damn easy to drop a stitch, and so damn hard to find them and pick them up -- but the good news is that there's no damn way that the thing is going to unravel.

So there it was, pulled out of another knitter's bag.

I had to laugh. And then I had to apologize and explain.

(And yes, it turns out that my new knitting friend hated the knitting as much as my Mum has.)

(There's a cautionary tale here about how a yarn can make all the difference between and beginner and an expert-level project, which I will pick up later. See also my ravings about Kidsilk Haze and its friends.)


tapeheads said...

Oh man, I have one of those sitting in a bag somewhere too. In my case, I ran out of the curly locks yarn with half a sleeve and the very large collar to go. I get depressed every time I see it.

Sel and Poivre said...

I know most people hate finishing but I find its so satisfying to properly finish something so as to best show off your knitting and make the garment wearable. I met a woman at a workshop two weeks ago who told me she never finishes anything - just knits and pays someone else to assemble things. I couldn't believe it but I guess its fairly common?