A question for you today, dear readers. What determines whether you consider a piece of knitting successful?
Somebody asked me this recently, and I considered it for some time. In the end I realised that, for me, a successful piece is one that gets worn. That is it.
Should a garment be the most technically perfect, aesthetically stunning, conceptually elegant thing I have ever created, yet for some reason languish in a lavender-scented drawer - then I can’t help but see it as a failure. Even if the owner tells me they are ‘being careful’ with it, because it’s ‘special,’ something does not feel right. It is as if, despite its evident merits there must be hidden, profound flaws. The garment is not serving its purpose.
On the other hand, should a garment be lopsided, sloppy, and full of glaring mistakes, yet get constantly worn by its owner - be it me, or somebody else - then despite its obvious flaws it feels as if it has true merit. Whatever its flaws may be, they are overshadowed by the fact that it is good enough to serve its purpose. Good enough to be wanted. Needed.
With that in mind, one of my most successful pieces of knitting to date must be the fingering-weight Alpaca pullover I knit in winter 2016-2017. I had at some point considered turning it into a pattern. But although the general idea is good (lightweight, basic, warm), I never did write it up, because I knew I'd have to re-knit the sweater for the sample. The original was not only difficult to photograph due to the dark shade of charcoal I chose, but also catastrophically flawed.
Because you see, I made the unfortunate decision to knit the (oversized) neck and cuffs in boucle. I think I envisioned an Astrakhan collar sort of effect. But instead, both the collar and especially the cuffs, immediately became matted and tattered to the point of disgustingness. Because of how large they are in proportion to the overall garment, this is quite noticeable, and as a result the entire sweater has a rather unsavory, 'dragged through the hedges' look to it. I should have just cut off the collar and cuffs as soon as this started to happen and re-knitted them in the same yarn as the rest of the garment. But I didn't. And now that the sweater is a year and a half old, it seems silly to add new parts to it?
All that said... I wear this sweater constantly! Because it is darn comfortable. And it matches every article of clothing I own. And it is exceptionally warm, yet thin enough to fit under any coat or jacket without adding bulk (see my post on knitting out of Alpaca). And so, matted collar or cuffs or not, it gets worn more often than probably any other article of clothing in my wardrobe!
It's funny, and annoying. Only because I've knitted so many much more attractive and conceptually successful garments over the past several years, and they all take a back seat to this thing. But you can't argue with what's useful, and convenient. And if anything, I should take this as motivation to knit several sweaters just like this one, in different colours and without the boucle.
So, what is your most successful piece of knitting? I am curious, whether others base this on craftsmanship, or - like me - on whether the garment gets worn.