Wednesday, June 13, 2007

If At First You Don't Succeed

Well, since my first project was such a crapshoot I decided to give it another try. I gave the hideous pillow to my brother who was heading off to college (hence, no picture) because he thought it was really cool. He is colorblind, which I think helped.

I headed over to the yarn store again for some of the beautiful new Malabrigo yarn I had been drooling over. After all, I had already completed a project: I was good enough for the expensive yarn now!

I should note here that I tend to charge head-on into things and do my best to figure them out as I go. I tend to get myself in over my head this way. Like the summer I was fresh out of college with my theater degree and I somehow stumbled into a job running the light and sound board for a local theater that has since won a Tony award. Every night I thought I was going to throw up because let's face it, I didn't major in technical theater and I had no clue what I was doing! The worst night was when the lead actor lost his voice and they had one of the founding members up in the booth with me performing his part as narration. People kept yelling at me to "Boost the bass just a bit!" I twirled some dials and hoped for the best...

But I digress. Armed with my massive amounts of experience from making one pillow, I went to the yarn store and bought two skeins of Malabrigo in the olive colorway. I went home and cast on, and merrily knit away.

I loved making these pillows. I love love looooove Malabrigo wool. It is the softest, prettiest, most luscious yarn and I search it out in every yarn store just so I can stand there and pet it. Mmmmmm.

Fortunately, I managed to knit up two pillows (2' x 2') with no yarn overs and no dropped stitches. Since I was new to knitting, endless rows of stockinette didn't bore me. They still don't bore me. I love watching rows of even stitches joining the ranks as the cloth gets longer and longer.

Unfortunately, however, I didn't know everything yet. Here are a few things I learned from knitting my pillows:

1) Not all yarn is created equally. Just because on my last project I needed only 2 skeins of yarn, it doesn't mean I will always only need 2 skeins. In fact, I needed 5 skeins to complete the pillows and I had to get them from 2 different stores.

2) Just because a yarn says it is the same color, it doesn't mean it will match exactly. "Dye lot" is now part of my vocabulary.

3) Even more perplexing, hand-dyed yarn will never be identical, even if it does come from the same dye lot. I did not learn about the concept of alternating skeins until after I was done with my pillows.

4) Gauge is a useful thing to be familiar with if you want your pieces to match up right. Just casting on "about two feet" of stitches and knitting "about two feet" of rows will produce four squares that are "about the same size...but not quite".

5) No one makes pillow forms that are 24" x 24". It took me a year and a half from the time I finished knitting the pillows to the time I was able to convince someone with a sewing machine to sew together giant squares for me. I was so upset that my husband, The Brain, was about ready to sit down with a needle and thread and stitch some up for me himself.

6) It was all worth it because now I have two of the most squishy, soft, beautiful, and expensive throw pillows on my couch!

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