I like making it right. I like things to be a certain way. It almost doesn’t matter what we’re talking about I either care how it is done, or totally don’t care. I am most often not terrifically particular about how it gets done. It doesn’t have to be “right” as long as comes out right.
When I was teaching I always told students that if I said “do this” then they should absolutely do it. If I didn’t say, then I just didn’t care. Staple your homework or paperclip it? Maybe just write your name on every page? Don’t care! Just turn in your homework. Didn’t do your homework? Then do it, but put the energy into making it right.
Making it Right for Me
A lot of things that are done for me by other people. I just care about the result, not too much how it gets done. Okay, if you load my dishwasher, I’ll probably rearrange it. I have cleaning people, and I don’t want to think about how they do stuff, I just want it done. If you are knitting for me I will give a fair amount of leeway if the outcome is great. I see no need to rip unless necessary. However, in my patterns, I’ve spent a good deal of time and intellectual energy to get just the result I want. So yeah, I called out that increase, decrease, method of casting on or binding off, or whatever thing I specified, that you may think is crazy, because I wanted it to be just so.
I am totally supportive of a little cheating on your knitting if it ends up making it right. But I’m finding that it is a very fine line in my own knitting. If something doesn’t look right, I’ll rip back and rework it until I find the way to do it that ends up making it right. But should you cheat if you got the increases off? Absolutely! What about if you do a different increase or decrease than what I called out? If you are knitting for me, I want what I called out. If it is your knitting, do what works for you–but don’t then blame me if it doesn’t look right. Or if you don’t get the instructions, email me! I try to be clear, but we don’t all get things the same way.
I feel this way about yarn substitutions too. Not everyone has access to the same yarns, for a variety of reasons, but be reasonable in your substitutions. Acrylic doesn’t substitute for merino. Superwash doesn’t even substitute for merino. They may be fine, but they won’t be the same. There are things to pay attention to: those things that are the underpinnings of the project you want to succeed. I recently blamed my flat gougere (cheese puffs) on the fact that I had used farm fresh, but not free range (what I call “happy eggs”). Sure, they tasted fine, but I’ve notice a difference in results of baked things when I use different eggs.
Why Making It Right Matters
I got to thinking about this as I was finding, after, well, years, that once I had found the right place for each thing in my studio, it wasn’t as hard to keep it tidy. Then I was admiring my intarsia on the Silk Road Cardigan. I had ripped it back once because I wasn’t happy with the joins, and then I ripped the whole freaking sweater back to the beginning because I didn’t like the way I’d done the either the intarsia or the hem.
So now I’m happy. I found the proper short row method to make the intarsia look sleek, I changed the needle size for the hem and it now looks great. I changed the stitch pattern in the intarsia to one that matched the row gauge on the adjoining pieces. Was any of that fun? Well, I was knitting, but it was a big loss of time. Plus, I had to keep trying different techniques to find the right one. So all it it was a big effort.
But making it right will make wearing the cardigan a joy instead of a burden.