Sometimes, despite your best efforts and plans, you fail. I fail a lot, particularly in life but sometimes in knitting. Enter: The Knitting Fail Chronicles.
I've never really had a forum to discuss my knitting fails and I'm honestly pretty excited about it. It's not that I'm particularly self-deprecating (usually) but I think that the internet, especially social media, often provides this rosy picture of who you are that isn't necessarily 100% representative of reality. For instance, on Ravelry I only post the coolest of the cool things that I've knit. I never post the utter and complete knitting fails of which I've had many, and I think they're important to talk about because no one is perfect and failing is really just a learning tool in the disguise of a seriously over-sized hat. So in the spirit of transparency, the above picture is a hat I knit recently in all of it's unadulterated failness.
The Six Stages of Knitting Grief
1. Shock and Denial
Even though I didn't swatch for this hat (I know, I know, no one to blame but myself) I did read the notes on just about every Skiff project on Ravelry and half of them said the same thing: this is a HUGE hat and you should go down at least a needle size. So I did, and in my mind I was like, "Problem solved, way to go Sarah." Nope. When I first cast-off, things seemed okay actually. Yes, it's a big hat, but it looked a little big on the model too and it's supposed to be slouchy. So I wore it for a few days and then all of the sudden the problem got way worse... it started to grow. DAMN YOU GRAVITY. So more denial ensues. Yes, I now have a veritable giant-sized hat on my hands but I have a large head for a woman (I'm workin' with a 22" dome while the average woman is a 21") and I'm going to rock this hat no matter what. Then, I couldn't keep it on my head. Still in denial, I continue to sport this thing even though it is barely making contact with my scalp and needs to be adjusted about every two minutes.
This was special yarn. It was a Christmas gift from my dear friend Sophie who lives in Denver: home of Fancy Tiger Crafts which carries the much coveted Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. It took me a long time to commit to a pattern for my two precious skeins and I was really pissed it didn't work out. Normally speaking I might rip out a project like this and re-use the yarn but Shelter is so lightly spun that it breaks easily and I didn't know if the yarn could withstand being knit twice. Plus, I really didn't want to throw away ten hours of cable-work and that tricky circular-tubular-cast-on. Also, I'd already foolishly woven-in all the ends. So ripping back was out of the question as far as I was concerned.
"Maybe I can just wash it on a hot cycle with loads of agitation! That will definitely work and I'll have a cool story to write on my blog about The Comeback Kid." I thought to myself. Well, felting is a total crap shoot and without any extra yarn to do a test swatch (I used the last bit of my Shelter on that stupid pompom) I didn't feel gutsy enough to chance it. Bring on the guilt.
Why, oh why, did I not swatch?? Never again!! (Yeah right Sarah.) Also, I'm really ashamed I didn't listen to my knitting-spidey-sense which told me, "Wow, 120 sts sure is a lot to cast on for a worsted weight hat. Well, surely Jared Flood knows what he's talking about." Now I realize I should have gone with my gut and recognized that either the test knitter for this hat knits REALLY tight or this is just a pattern that is more suitable for a dk weight. I saw a lot of knitters on Ravelry that used dk weight yarns and theirs turned out lovely and seemed to fit well. In addition to being far too wide, I also thought the hat was a bit too tall when I was knitting it (even for a slouchy hat) and because of the cable pattern I couldn't knit it any shorter. A dk weight yarn would have solved both the height and width problem.
At this point, I pretty much just let the hat sit around my house and make a mockery of me. Yarn I love, from a person I love, in a color I love, in a pattern I love, that is completely unwearable. If that's not depressing I don't know what is.
6. Acceptance and Hope
We all make mistakes. In the future I vow to try and avoid the temptation to cast on willy nilly without proper planning. I'm a better knitter than that. I am not going to let this hat be a total loss either. It turns out I have a man-friend with a big head and fluffy, thick, hair that looks absolutely charming in green. One man's trash is another man's treasure. I bought two skeins of Rowan Felted Tweed Dk in a super ironically named color called Rage (I'm not joking) which I hope will work out much better for me in a yet-to-be-knit future Skiff.
Here is the new owner in all of his woolen glory:
Maybe it was meant to be.