"It is better to unstitch than to rip."
--Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BCE– 43 BCE), On Friendship
Carla--my friend and accomplished fiber artist (she might contest this "accomplished" label, but I speak from my can-barely-thread-a-needle pov)--has been knitting a Danish-designed pullover wool sweater, off and on, over the past couple years:
Despite what the Danish shop clerks assured her, it has not been "easy."
The elegant Scandinavian design allows for no error, and recently Carla came to accept that she'd made a big one.
A big, big one.
In the second row.
[For you knitters, I'll relay what Carla told me:
The pattern said "k1, m1, k1, m1," ["knit one, make one]" and then "k to end" of the row. But Carla kept on with the "k1, m1" pattern.
For those of us who don't speak knitting, this means she kept adding, or "making," stitches, so the sweater doubled in size, though only in one section...]
Carla told me that when she realized she'd erred back on Day 1 of creation, her first impulse was to take a scissors and cut the sweater into thousands of little bits.
But she didn't.
She decided to unknit the sweater and start all over again.
I asked her if I could document what to me is a truly heroic act, and she agreed.
Carla is one of the most generous people I know (she might contest this too, but I have backup on it), and I thought she was being kind to share this with me.
Turns out, in this case, she had an ulterior motive: I was an extra pair of hands to wind the wool onto the wooden swift (left), as she unravelled the sweater.
Carla will hang the skeins of wool (like the one to the right) in the shower and the hot steam will allow the kinks to relax.
Because the wool was once a living material (from Shetland sheep), it will relax back into its natural shape, and she can use it all over again.
Getting small now...
The lesson in this, Carla said, is "Buy exquisite yarn. Don't settle for junky stuff that was once plastic or oil."
I say, the lesson in this is if you learn to accept it when you fuck up, you can still get a sweater out of the deal.