Why I could never knit a true Alice Starmore design

As I was approaching the end of my Knit In Public week, someone at the store asked how my socks were doing and I said that all was on track - IN FACT, I was finishing a second pair of socks that weren't due until September. Hurray! 2 out of 3 WIPs (works in progress) nearly done!

I reflected later on that I was quite proud of this September pair of socks as they were the first project in many years that I had followed the directions to the letter. I did precisely their toe beginning (3 times on the 1st sock), I slavishly measured my gauge and did the precise calculations. I followed the techniques to the letter. I NEVER follow anything to the letter, but it seemed like an interesting experience and a challenge worth pursuing during my month of learning while I was away in May.

Boasting is not a good thing to do. It calls the gods down to laugh at you.

On Saturday evening, I finished the "afterthought" heel exactly as they described and voila: a sock that doesn't fit! I couldn't believe it. My daughter who will receive these socks has about the same size feet as I do and we both have tried them on along the way, to the extent that one can try on a tube before it's "afterthought heel" is put in. All seemed well, until you take in to account the fact that the human foot has an instep.

The way that you can tell that the sock doesn't fit without seeing the sweat on my face from wrestling it over my heel is the fact that the "bull's eye" effect of the heel has its centre under the heel, and by the tiny hole that I was going to secure when weaving my final ends in, which has blossomed from the strain over my foot into the size of a giant blueberry through which skin could be seen from across the street.

So much for my effort at following someone else's directions. I have since separated the leg from the foot at the "afterthought" line and will proceed to knit the feet with a regular heel and finishing with a perfectly lovely and acceptable Kitchener toe.

I don't follow direction well in most endeavours. It's not that I don't get what I'm being told. It's more often that I think that I know a better way of doing things. Or in the case of a recipe, I may not have the time, tools and/or specific ingredients to do it exactly as the chef prescribes. I can usually wing it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

I do however appreciate that there are times when it is wise to just follow the leader. This lesson was learned by me in a most wonderfully humbling way with the rug that I hooked using my nephew's painting at right. He was 8 years old when he painted this, and his mom sent a beautiful copy to my parents. I was so taken by the flow and colours and the simplicity of the design, I wanted to do it in another medium.
As I got going with the rug hooking I believed that I would adapt it, to add some more warmth to the textures that the wool would bring to the piece...remove the black outlines around the bottom sections, change some of the colouring of the rocks to add more depth. Once again HA! The artistic gods and no doubt, my nephew, Andrew's innate sense of what works, put me in my place and I ended up changing back every modification that I'd made and the rug is a pretty faithful reproduction of the original - cause everything I tried wasn't as good as what a very talented 8 year old had already done before. I love it.
So the reason that I could never do an Alice Starmore design, such as the Mary Tudor shown below, and that I'm reading about in Adrienne Martini's book Sweater Quest, is that people who put the time and effort into taking on such a project actually want to make it exactly as it was designed, remaining as true and faithful to the colours and styling as is humanly possible.
When I knit, I usually have discarded a half dozen details in any given pattern by the time I get the cast on row finished.
It's not that I think I know better...well, maybe it is. What I mean is that it's more that I know myself and know what I'll put up with, or what I have the time to accomplish, or the money to purchase, or the inclination to complete. I know better what is possible for ME. And the unbelievable dedication to the cause required for such a mammoth project is beyond my scope or discipline.
This picture of the Mary Tudor sweater was taken in January of 2009 by it's owner, Irene who had begun it in 2004. Irene's blog is not a usual knitting blog in fact Irene and Man Yung's Tango Blog isn't usually about knitting at all. But who would know that behind all that Latin passion involved in their tango lives, Irene is an incredibly accomplished knitter who has more dedication than many of us can lay claim to. Check out this post as the pictures of the inside of the sweater are amazing.
Hats off to all of the consumed knitters how decide to pay homage to such talented knitting designers that elevate our treasured hand craft to an art form.