What is it with me and giant headbands?!
Joey took the first picture and when I told her I didn't want to put it in the post because it wasn't a very attractive picture of me, she commented that it wasn't like I was trying to get people to fall in love with me. Well put. So, in it goes. (Sometimes we need kids around, if only for reality checks.)
Anyway, here is the post I originally started typing up when I started this project...
When I was in middle school, my best friend and I decided to cook ourselves lunch one day. We didn't know exactly what we wanted and we didn't even think to use a recipe. We got out some ground beef and started browning it in a skillet. Then we opened up her parents' spice cabinet and started adding things.
I have no idea what we put in the skillet, but as we tasted it after each addition, we eventually realized that instead of getting better with each new spice, our meal was slowly becoming inedible. And the worse it became, the more we were convinced that we just needed to find the one right seasoning and it would turn out fine.
I bet her parents were pissed when they came home to find a pound of ground beef in the trash.
Skip forward 10 years to find me in my college apartment doing essentially the same thing, this time while attempting a meatloaf. Before adding anything, I would smell the meat mixture and then smell the spice and I could tell if the new flavor would work with what I already had. And, although it isn't saying much, I can safely say that it was the best meatloaf I've ever eaten. Too bad I didn't write down all those wonderful things I was adding. The recipe is lost forever.
The main difference between these two events was experience, at least 4 years of regular cooking, more specifically... of cooking from recipes. Of following the instructions of someone who has been there and taken the time to write it down for the next lost person that stumbles onto the path.
That is the sheer and utter brilliance of the internet. Every day people are writing down the paths they've taken, and leaving markers for the rest of us, if we're interested in following.
And when it comes to knitting, the best of these markers is at KnittingHelp. When Jenny and Aurora and I decided that we needed to learn to knit last Christmas, Jenny went to the internet, found knittinghelp and started learning. Amy, the creator of the site, has made a bunch of fantastic videos showing and describing how to knit, in both continental and English methods.
Jenny and Aurora progressed quickly. I sucked. Seriously. Jenny kept telling me I was inventing stitches because somehow I was wrapping the yarn from the wrong side and was doubling the amount of stitches on my needles. Eventually, I sort-of got the hang of it. Though my hands always felt tight and cramped from trying to keep the right tension on the yarn.
When I attempted the headband, seen on my sidebar, I did not do the test gauge like the pattern insisted. No, I just started knitting. And I don't even think I had the right kind of yarn.
So, lesson learned. First thing I did was bring the pattern to a yarn shop and ask them what yarn I needed. It was somewhat expensive and gorgeous, so I knew that I'd take my time with it and, you know, follow the pattern. Then I practiced and practiced with a cheap skein of yarn, so that my gauge was consistent and my hands loosened up. Then, last night, while at Kenzie's orchestra concert, I knit a gauge piece. I haven't yet measured it, but as God is my witness, I will keep reknitting that sucker until it is the exact size it should be.
It has taken me almost a year to get to the point where it actually feels good to knit, sort of relaxing like. And I love it. I think most people go faster than this (Jenny started a turtle about a month in), but, as you might have noticed, I'm somewhat scattered and jump around from project to project. I just wasn't good enough or fast enough to really like knitting at the onset. So, I just didn't do it. But, I'm finally at the point where I'm ready to knit something that I think I will actually wear.
And I will wear my headband every damn day. Because that's the kind of person I am. (Just ask Jeff about my favorite pair of North Face pants.)
Inspiring post, no? Too bad the finished length of the headband is more like 32 inches, instead of the 24 it was supposed to be. Even after I knit that damn gauge swatch 4 different times, using progressively smaller and smaller needles. The swatch was supposed to be 4 inches square when lightly stretched.
I guess it's that subjective word 'lightly' that got me. If something is not stretched enough at 4 inches then over the course of 24 inches, it's going to be 6 times off. Seriously though, it was not 5 inches, so I've come to the conclusion that swatches aren't all that helpful, which goes against the entire premise of my original post. I'm a walking contradiction, I tell ya.
Now I'm going to unravel this and reknit, casting on only 84 stitches instead of the original 120. (And Joey just helped me with the math involved in this calculation, taking into account that since the pattern is Knit 2, Purl 2, it needs to be a multiple of 4. Clever child.)
At this point, it's sheer stubbornness that's going to be responsible for the completion of this headband. And I really will wear it every day.
Wish me luck.