women of a certain age are like sunflowers; they know how to turn their faces to the sun.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Failure Is Not an Option

It is said that upon being asked how it felt to fail over one hundred times in his quest to invent the light bulb, Thomas Edison replied, "I did not fail. I discovered over one hundred ways NOT to construct a light bulb."

Now, I cannot tell you whether or not this apocryphal story is true. What I can tell you is...

I can identify.

If you looked at my output for the holiday weekend, it would seem rather paltry.

A few inches of cabled neckline for Dress Grays

A couple of Jolly Green swatches

And a partridge in a pear tree ball of yarn with one thousand beads strung on it (give or take.)

The ball of yarn in particular could be deemed a failure, since it wound up much the same as it began back last Wednesday before the holiday. It might be said that there was little significant progress made on Morocco. It could even be said there was NO progress. And I wouldn't argue with the facts.

I would, however, argue with the interpretation.

Because this unassuming ball of yarn worked hard all weekend long. It was provisionally cast on for the center back part of the shawl design. Five rows of garter ensued, then the moment of truth came - when the first row of the Persian lace pattern was begun. Then it all began to add up...

to more stitches than I needed. I forgot that the edging INCREASES to 12 stitches, but begins with 10.


Again the cast on, and the garter segment and still was two stitches over. Couldn't figure out where I had gone wrong. Finally counted the stitches on the chart to discover that, due to yarn overs and knit 2 togethers and the like, the edging began with 9 stitches (which took up 10 spaces on the graph.)


Third time's the charm, right?

Wrong. Third time's the one where you finally get the stitch count right, only to discover your provisional cast on is unraveling because your waste yarn didn't keep up with the shawl's expanding girth.

Fourth time, I ditched the provisional cast on because if I had to do the friggin' thing one more time,I was going to take a shotgun and blow holes in the darn thing.

Fourth time, I got through the first pattern repeat, loved how the beading was coming together, and all was well with the universe.

Until I noticed that what I thought was a pattern with no top and bottom to it, had yarn overs along the top edge, but not the bottom. So if I did two repeats as planned for the center of the shawl, both would be facing the same direction rather than outward from the center as planned.

I looked at the damn thing cherished item and wondered if I could perform surgery to unravel the garter rows and use the provisional cast on to knit a second motif in the other direction.

I remembered I didn't use a provisional cast on.

I went to dinner with my husband who wisely refrained from asking, "So, how did your day go, dear?"

On the way home, I realized that the dainty chevron pattern would be upside down if I knit from the center out as previously envisioned. My onion domed shapes would look like fat letter Vs.


Then light dawned! Knit it from the edges in! Then the onion domes would be right side up and I could graft the center portion of the shawl together, thereby providing a true mirror image Persian lace segment and eliminating the annoying provisional cast on. I might even be able to do a three needle bind off and eliminate the grafting all together.

I could hardly wait to get home. I turned on White Christmas on ABC family and settled down to my work. Cast on, worked two rows of beaded fringe edging and realize that 1000 beads only took me about one foot into the width of the shawl.

I headed for the computer and ordered more beads.

I ripped out (AGAIN) and went to bed.

Yesterday, I decided to use a shorter fringe and put two stitches between each instead of only one. That way I'd have enough beads to finish the border and start the main part of the shawl.

Except for the fact that I now didn't have enough beads on the yarn to complete half the shawl.

So I could break the yarn, add the new beads, and weave the ends in. No one would know but me.

And this time I had enough beads...

to make it MOST of the way across the fringed border.

I ordered more beads and wound the offending yarn back into a ball, there to await the postman's delivery of more beads.

But I didn't fail.

Oh no!

I just discovered 100 ways NOT to knit a shawl.


margene said...

You are so committed to a good outcome. All that starting over and over and over is why I don't design. I love what you've got so far!

Kim said...

Oh dear! It's so frustrating to work that hard only to have to rip. If it's any consolation, what you have done is stunning!

I dyed up another colorway this weekend after polling all of my Thanksgiving guests about Morroco and color.....I think you will like the colorway that I came up with for a second choice :-)

amy said...

Wow. That is persistence. And love, most definitely.

TheBlackSheep said...

Momma said there'd be days like this....

and why should I be the only one to have them?? :D

I feel your pain. I spent two or three hours working on a sweater last night and am not a single stitch further for it. Ah well, I'm sure we've learned from this, I'm sure. Positive. It'll just take a while to figure out what. :P

Anonymous said...

I admire your persistence - the final result is sure to be spectacular!

Carie @ Space for the Butterflies said...

If at first you don't succeed .... or should I say if at first you successfully obtain a different result to the one you were trying to obtain! :). The little glimpses look beautiful though and I'm looking forward to seeing more then just a peek.

La Cabeza Grande said...

Failure may not be an option, but would it hurt Success to come a little sooner? Just kidding, my friend. Rest assured, your name is Susan, not Sisyphus, and you efforts will definitely pay off!

Donna Lee said...

I am admiring your stick-to-it-iveness. You have some stubborn Yankee blood in there somewhere?

The A.D.D. Knitter said...

Tenacity thy name is Susan... You are one determined knitter!!!

Ann said...

I am so glad that all your efforts finally paid off & you have a beautiful piece of work - I really do admire your determination!