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Ripping Back 2017



Prior to a couple of years ago, I used to rip back my knitting constantly, and without a second thought. It was almost as if knitting was a form of sketching. I would do it unthinkingly, compulsively, and the finished result was just as likely to become a design I would be happy with, as one I would unceremoniously reject. 

Then somehow over the past two years I got into a way of producing 'keepers.'  I am sure it was partly that I got better at envisioning, earlier in the creative process, what the finished piece was going to look and fit like. But also, I was increasingly turning my knitting into a business, so I simply did not have time to indulge in fruitless sketch-knits.

At any rate, when I sorted through my chest of sweaters as part of an attempt at taking stock in the new year, I realised that in 2017 I had not ripped back a thing. But in fact I should have. In particular, there were two pieces that were very clearly unsuccessful, and whose continued existence was bothering me.

The first of these was the yellow Donegal Tweed cardigan I had knitted in Spring 2017. I had tentatively named it Sunny Every Day, intending to turn it into a pattern; but that never happened. There were things about this cardigan that I liked, and it photographed well. But from the very start, I was unhappy with the tension I had knitted it at (too loose). And I regretted designing it with raglan, rather than circular, yoke construction. In retrospect, the raglan yoke seemed wrong for the 'sunny' theme - the sun is an orb after all! And I know that seems like a ridiculous reason to dislike a sweater, but what can I do about the way my mind works? The too-loose tension also made it not as comfortable to wear as I would have liked. I tried to live with the cardigan as it was, but the more I wore it and studied the design, the more wrong it felt. 

And now, as I saw it there, folded up in the drawer, I thought to myself 'How much better would I feel ripping it out and re-knitting it to be just right?'

Well, I am now working on Sunny Every Day 2.0 and indeed it feels great!


The second piece I have not ripped out yet, but am about to, is the linen-stitch peplum blazer I had knitted out of Lettlopi, loosely based on the Kim Hargreaves Beatrix pattern.

I made this blazer at the very start of last year as an attempt to get outside of my comfort zone: Namely, knitting a pieced and seamed garment, and knitting from somebody else's pattern. On those two accounts, the jacket was more or less successful. It looks beautiful and it fits well, and the seaming wasn't as unpleasant as I expected it to be. Nevertheless, it just doesn't feel right to wear. The fact that I have not worn it much is evidence enough that something is off.

If I have to analyse it, I would say the main thing is that the lopi was the wrong yarn for the job. Having gained more experience with this Icelandic wool over the past year, I realise now that it is a light, airy yarn with lots of drape. Forcing it into a dense stitch pattern and a stiff, structured design, was perhaps not the best use for it! And so really it is no wonder that it feels as if the yarn is 'fighting' with the jacket's construction every time I wear it. Aside from that, I now also realise that the infamously 'hairy' lopi is not exactly the sort of yarn that feels nice to wear over an open-neck top: The itch factor is intense! 

It was an interesting experiment. But now it is time to rip it out, and perhaps re-use the sage green yarn to make a nice colourwork cardigan with a lined collar and cuffs.

So... those are my 2017 rips. I was going to write 'failures,' but that doesn't seem right, considering how much I learned from making them. The process of ripping out an entire sweater, especially after not having done it for so long, is oddly enjoyable, even cathartic - especially as I envision its eventual rebirth as something better.