Monday, January 20, 2014

How to Keep Your Project from Turning into a Gremlin.

In one of our previous podcasts, Sandy & I discussed mogwai projects. Mogwai projects are seemingly harmless projects that can wreck havoc with your crafting life, if you don't follow some basic safety precautions. (Of course, there are always projects that will wreck havoc no matter what!)

In this particular case, I've been working on the Knit Swirl Coat of Many Colors for quite a number of months (nearly the year), and I've been wanting to finish it. I'm about 80% done, and I've already had some gremlin moments with this project whereby I had to rip back many many rows  -- and with a mohair blend yarn no less!

I've taken to handling this project carefully, reading through sections of the pattern thoroughly, writing down detailed notes, and checking off completed rows.

In this particular case, I finally finished one section, and was reading through another part of the pattern before I started knitting. I was confused by the pattern's written instructions, so I started counting the number of decreases & bind-off, which did not add up to the final stated stitch count for that section.

I redid the calculations. It didn't match.
I re-read the instructions. It still confused me.
I looked on Ravelry for helpful tips from other users. There was nothing that matched my problem.
I searched through the Ravelry forums for Knit Swirl fans. NADA. So, I made a NEED HELP post on one of the Knit Swirl forums (and even took a photo of the coat as a visual aid).
I looked at the errata. I had all the changes for my pattern.

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I was becoming very frustrated.
Then, I looked at the clock. It was slightly past midnight, and I realized how TIRED I was, and that maybe, just maybe, rest would be more fruitful. So I put down my project, and went to bed. Nothing could come any good out of continuing to bang my head in frustration. My lovely coat would have become a gnarled mess of a gremlin quickly.

Eighteen hours later, I started re-reading the pattern and calculating stitch counts. And the pattern instructions STILL confused me and my calculations were STILL off.

After taking a deep breath, I remembered that this part of the pattern had a chart. It is a complicated chart, but after 5 minutes, I finally realized what the written instructions weren't as clear as they could have been, and the chart provided a much more succinct summary of the bind offs & decreases that weren't wholly apparent in the written version.

So, now I'm back on track with the Knit Swirl coat. I might even get this finished before a year has passed. Here are some of the things I learned: * I'm very glad that I was trying to figure this out logistically and wasn't knitting on this project, because it would have been easily have turned into a gremlin very quickly. So, reading a complicated section of the pattern and making sure the numbers added up adequately * Taking a step away from a project can really help bring clarity to the project * Always look at the schematic/chart alongside the written pattern. One can give you additional insight into a problem.