Sunday, July 4, 2010

Knitting Independence

In homage to Independence Day, the celebration of freedom observed every July 4th in the United States, I was thinking about how the concept of independence and freedom relate to knitting.

The first path my thoughts wandered down was how freely portable knitting (or crochet) can be.  Many projects, like socks, hats and scarves, can be tucked into a handbag and toted along to work on while traveling, waiting for appointments, standing in long lines, or sitting on the sidelines of a child's sports practice.  Not many crafts allow that kind of freedom. 

The next idea that came to mind was how easily adaptable knitting can, and many times should be, given the mind-boggling array of choices we have with every project.  A designer may plot out a pattern in a specific yarn and color, but knitters are by no means locked into that look and can easily choose to substitute another fiber, texture or color of yarn.  And considering that no pattern can ever fit even a majority of knitters perfectly since we are all unique shapes and sizes, adapting pattern measurements to ensure proper fit is often critical! 

Moving beyond yarn choice and fit, we have the freedom to think independently from the designer and use the pattern as a jumping-off point by modifying a silhouette, transforming a pullover into a cardigan, adding a collar to a crew neckline, shortening a sleeve, or even removing a sleeve altogether.

This is sort of the case with my current summer  project where I originally began making a top with the idea of adding elbow-length sleeves, but after completing the bodice, decided I liked it better without the sleeves, so left it as a camisole.  Later, I can always decide to go back and add them if I change my mind. 

Another change I made was button choice.  I had first stitched on some antique cream pearl buttons in the same shade as the yarn in my top, but they seemed to jump out from the slate blue yarn and I wanted a more subtle look.  Next I rejected some pewter buttons as being too shiny.  I finally settled on these shell buttons in a subdued grey hue with just a hint of sheen in the polished surface.

I also fiddled around with the hem for a bit, since I wanted to coordinate the bodice and hem edge, but not draw too much attention to the hips.

After experimenting with contrasting yarn colors, various crochet stitches and different bodice lengths, I ended up choosing to echo the neckline's double crochet and garter stitch border, but in the same color as the main body of the top.  I did this primarily because not only was this combination more subtle, but in trying to use only stash yarn for this project, I've been forced to work with some accent yarn that was a bit more stiff than the softly draping Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy yarn used for the main part of the top.  She's blocking now and I'll have FO photos soon.

Finally, after all the options have been weighed, the choices have been made and a project is progressing, I think that knitting can be mentally freeing as we allow ourselves to be drawn into the soothing process of making stitches.  Even a challenging project can facilitate this as our brains release endorphins through new and exciting adventures in learning.

So this fourth day of July, no matter what country you hail from, celebrate the wonderful freedom and independence we knitters enjoy through our craft!

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