Monday, January 02, 2006


Or how to make a poncho based on 1970's Hippie

Frogging yarn (unravelling a finished garment in order to recycle the yarn) may seem like a lot of work, especially with quality sweaters. But the result is a batch of yarn you could never get for the price of the sweater. I found a handmade sweater at Reruns in San Francisco last year made of fabulous designer yarn and bought it for $1. I frogged it and washed and kept the yarn, looking for the right form to work it up into. If you're like me, you want the yarn to speak to you and tell you how best it can be worked.

After half-knitting a bulky sweater, I frogged that and decided on a poncho (praying I had enough yarn to make it long enough). Working with round needles and without a pattern, I knitted up the collar with a multiple of four stitches--and unknitted it a couple of times--until the tension was right.

Then I divided the body into 4 sections, marking the first stitch of each section, then increased one stitch before and after each marker. Continuing to feel my way along, I increased every round and found the increase was too much. Frogging and trying again, I increased every third round and the yarn seemed happy with that. Continuing, I decided I wanted a kind of fluted edging and when I was almost out of yarn, I ended the last round with a crocheted edging.

After wearing it once, I thought the neckline too loose, so I took the last of the yarn and reinforced the very first row (the neckline), twice. This gave me a firm neckline and let the finished garment fall gracefully.

The result is above, modelled by my niece-in-law Norma with her daughter Saiya Papaya. Once I saw it on someone else, I was satisfied that this was one of my Successes. Yay!

The past week I also finished a scarf made from a peach novelty yarn. The scarf was okay but just. Rooting around in my overwhelming stash, I found some soft yarn in exactly the same color without all the colored bits and texture. Frogging the entire scarf (and negating hours of work), I began again with the combined yarns and the result is much fluffier, softer, warmer and more substantial. (Photo to come when complete.)

So much of knitting (and crocheting and sewing) is undoing something to redo it once more. So like life. Very time consuming, but I'd rather be doing this, listening to my books on tape, than playing video games, going out to bars or watching bad films. Or (shudder) shopping in a mall. In the words of Samuel Beckett whose birthday it is today: "Try again. Fail again. Fail better. "

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