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The Photo FallacyNovember 8, 2011

There are so many similarities between novel writing and knitting, and I've remarked on them before, but these things bear repeating:

1. Work done every day, even a few lines or a few stitches, adds up into books and sweaters.

2. Sometimes when you finish something, it's a piece of crap. That's when the tricky work comes: figuring whether it's salvageable and then working out HOW to do that.

I *almost* finished my Levenwick sweater last night. This is what it should look like:


(I just realized I fell for the photo fallacy again. This sweater, even if made right, would not suit me. And I'm just noticing that now. I just wanted to BE her. Grrr.)

I'm not going to show you what it DOES look like, not until I decide what to do with it. The arm scyes are way too deep -- apparently I was just knitting along and didn't notice that at all. The reverse stockinette rolls and flips in all the wrong places. The lace doesn't hold up, and I'm not sure blocking will help at all. I was SO FRUSTRATED and upset last night when I tried it on -- it's been a while since a sweater defeated me, and that's what this feels like happened.

I still have to knit the hem (which calls for applied i-cord -- HA! As if I would waste my time). I think what I'll do is slap-bang on a quick hem of some sort and weave the ends in loosely, and then wash the damn thing and block it. (Oh, how I resent the time I'll have to put in doing this.)

But I think, even when I do this: It's been a grand waste of time. I'll have to decide what to do with it. I won't frog it -- the idea of doing that gives me hives. It's nice, inexpensive yarn, nothing worth working hard to save. Maybe I'll donate it to someone at Occupy Oakland. (Hey! Knit-in tomorrow (Wednesday) at 1pm in the plaza, you're welcome to come -- knit something warm to give away.)

Now, when it comes to writing, I'm used to editing. It's my favorite part, actually. I love moving and deleting big blocks of words around and reworking them. In my current work-in-progress, I have 100,ooo words, with 50,000 unused words in the trash bin.That tells me I'm getting close.

But knitting? Anytime it doesn't come out exactly the way I want the first time, it feels like I've only been wasting my time. I don't quite understand why my brain feels like this, but it has something to do with TIME. I don't have enough time in this life to knit all the sweaters I want to knit, just like I'll never read every book that's on my list. It frustrates me to waste time reading crappy books or knitting sweaters that don't suit. I don't keep reading bad books to see if they get better, and if I'm not totally in love with a pattern, it doesn't do to reknit it.

I'd rather sit on the couch and figure out the math for my accordion sweater. At least if I screw that up, I can only blame myself. Also, it's FUN to do that kind of math.


Ooh I wish I could go to the knit-in! Sadly I have to work. I was thinking about knitting quick hats/mitts though! Do you know if I could just like, show up this weekend with some knitted stuff? Or is that weird?

I cannot WAIT to see the accordion sweater!

Finish your sweater, then find someone it does suit (who likes handknits) and make a gift of the sweater. I would have fallen for this sweater also, it has a great retro look and it fits the body I wish I had. Unfortunately, nature gave me boobs and I just have to accept that fact. Adjusting for reality - seems like I'm always doing that.

wait - you mean knit photos lie? i am not going become an english beauty trolling through the lake country after i put on this sweater. does the anthropologie catalog lie, too? because that i cannot take. :) i knit things all the times because i want to look like the model. oh well. sometimes i learn some good techniques out of it at least. i hope you can make it work for you.

I understand completely! Since knitting is my de-stress mechanism, getting frustrated on a project just makes me nuts. Hence the growing pile of scarves these days. Fortunately I have family who live where it's really cold, and they are happy to be on the receiving end.

Hmmm.....I'm glad to read this - was considering making it. Do you think it's the yarn or the pattern? Thanks for the heads-up!

AGGH! I hate being defeated by a pattern... it seems like it's been happening more and more often lately, and I DO end up frogging projects, which is totally maddening. I hope it all works out!

I completely get what you mean. I have entire books of knitting patterns (Fisherman's Sweaters, anyone?) that I own because I want to be the people in them, not knit the sweaters they're wearing. It took me a few years to realize that.

These days my time for knitting is a lot tighter, so I've gotten a bit better at choosing projects...but I still have a lot of UFOs lying around and I often start things and frog back an inch into it.

Oh, and you probably already know this, but the representation link in the banner to your fabulous agent is broken :(

There was this angora that I made a sweater that I was convinced would be the sweater that I would live in. The cat does seem to enjoy sleeping on it......

Oh, my, yes. Yes, yes, yes. All of that. (Except I wouldn't be kind enough to give it away.) (Oh, wait, I just did that with a scarf a couple weeks ago, except that was to a dear friend.)

So, yes: There is not enough time. And I persist in thinking I'm a cute svelte young thing. I'm not; I'm a cute plump older thing, and not everything that looks good on Ysolda looks good on me, dammit.

Which reminds me, I still need to frog and completely freakin' reknit an entire, handspun, hand-dyed, hand-knit cardigan, that would look lovely on me if only the gauge swatch hadn't LIED . (And if I hadn't been fooling myself.)

Sigh. Knitting is SO much fun.

I think you may have saved me from the same fate. I really wanted to make Levenwick, but you're right, it is just that the picture is so beautiful, and it wouldn't really suit me.

Oh Rachael - you really make me laugh sometimes. I can see the attraction to knit that sweater; the button band looks interesting to knit, but, but, BUT ... the asymmetry and top only buttoning treatment? Clearly designed for a skinny, flat chested wench. No one like your awesomely curvacious self.

Yeah, I'd go with put some plain plastic buttons on it and donate it.

I was TOTALLY WITH YOU until you used the word "fun" and the word "math" in the same sentence.

Up 'til then, though, I was all "YOU SAID IT SISTER!!"


I feel your pain. Give it away.

Some of us knit for the project, others for the process. I am a process knitter, and even when the project is a complete fail I don't take it personal. If I enjoyed the yarn I can rip and get the fun of knitting something else with it. Not all yarns will hold up to that, but to me it's totally worth it when they do. Time spent knitting is never a waste! Yes, you can gift the sweater to someone that it will fit. I think project knitters have a much harder time with the concept that it's ok to start over. And I hate those pictures too. I'm never going to be willowy, even if I lose a million pounds, so quit tempting me! So I guess I have to stick to designing my own things.

Trust me, I feel your pain! What I always do is just bag it up and leave it, then go work on something else. After a few months (and after I have recovered from my 'bad sweater' rage) I go back and frog it and rewind it. Then I leave it alone again until I find the perfect project for the yarn. I call this process "strategic procrastination!"

It's a lot easier to edit text than "edit" a sweater after it's been knit. At least with the text, you can move it around -- you might end up with something different from what you expected, but still good/useful. Set the sweater aside until you find who it was meant for. It will be their lucky day when they receive that beautiful, new handknit sweater.

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


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