Sunday, July 15, 2007

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Now, I have been lucky enough to get my mum back into knitting. She and I went to an LYS in Toronto recently, where we were looking for yarn and a pattern so she could knit a baby sweater. Upon finding a pattern she liked, she then went to the suggested yarn, and didn't like any of the available colours. But she did like another yarn.

My response was for her to choose the yarn she loved, and then find a pattern that would work with it. "No!!!!!!" came a voice from the corner of the store, "you can't do it that way. You HAVE to choose the pattern first!"

Now, I understand the logic here. Not following this school of thought can lead you to end up with a lovely stash of yarn waiting for a pattern. (I have lots of this... a few skeins allocated to become "a hat", "a shawl", "socks", whenever I find the perfect pattern. And I like it this way, as frustrating as it sometimes is to look at a few skeins and think, "if only I knew what to do with you.")

However, I think that knitting for me is primarily about the yarn, and then the pattern only comes second. Of course I'm only going to knit patterns I like, and I substitute yarns freely, but I am first of all inspired by the yarn! Maybe this is the budding designer in me, or the fact that I'm a fibre-a-holic, but I think both ways are equally valid.

In fact, I have been inspired both by yarn-first, and by pattern-first:
1) I saw the pattern for Birch, and knew I had to knit it in something Kidsilk Haze-y. It had to be red. It worked out perfectly.

2) I saw the green Misti Alpaca laceweight, and knew it had to be a shawl. I found the Icarus pattern. Again, perfect.

I think that my yarn-first approach may work best for certain knits, like hats, shawls, scarves, and socks. Sweaters probably would be better off choosing the yarn first. But I don't always want to. If I see a skein of yarn I like, it's coming home with me... and if I'm smart, it'll be in appropriate amounts for a project (like enough for a shawl, or socks).

So knitters, what do you think? Is this sacriligeous, crazy, inspired?
Which way are you inspired?
Do you think the crazy LYS lady was right to yell at me for advising my mother in such a reckless way?

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Blogger soCherry said...

I have some yarn that I bought for a project, some that I bought because it spoke to me and a project will befit it one day, some that had a fate as one project, but became another etc. etc.

I think whatever does it for the knitter - personally it irks me when one knitter says 'this method, pattern, choice, stitch' etc. is wrong because knitting is for fun. There are no laws other than whatever brings a smile to knitter her/himself!! :)

Elaine x

5:27 PM  
Blogger Linz said...

Elaine, I so agree. I think that's what bothered me the most -- that it was put down as a knitting law.

5:50 PM  

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