Thursday, 29 September 2011

Following your own pattern

I’ve always formed my knit stitches the ‘wrong’ way – I knit each stitch through the back loop (ktbl in knitting shorthand). Under some circumstances it makes no difference – the stitches either ‘untwist’ depending on what I’m doing as I knit back along the next row, or they form a particularly tight kind of stitch that actually works quite well for the majority of simple patterns.

But if I start to knit lace, where you make holes deliberately, my work starts to ‘fail’. Here’s what I mean – the stitches are often dropped and then loops made to bridge the gap. If you knit through these the wrong way, what was intended as a shape in the design can end up leaving very little hole in the fabric at all. Or it can create holes where the pattern did not intend them.

The lacy motifs can end up not resembling the pretty pattern image at all. Where did I go wrong?
I have my own way of doing things, and I’m trying to be true to my own vision and values. I am very lucky to have grown up in an environment and been part of a community where, by in large, everyone was making their fabric in their own way, the way that felt best.

And some of them weren’t even aware there were patterns to follow.

I soon learned that a lot of the so-called ‘real’ world was not like this. There were certain boxes you would need to fit into, that others could recognize. If you wouldn’t fit, they were puzzled, and often frustrated. It was easy to end up thinking that I needed to change – I thought I had to work with the system to succeed.
Despite being intelligent and good at a number of things, no-one was really too clear on what I could do with my life; least of all me.

Sometimes, the light would dawn, that I was never going to fit into any of those boxes, or be able to follow any of those popular patterns, and I would have to leave my job or move and change to shake things up.
But culture and expectation are powerful, most of all in our own minds – even if we don’t always see that. The wonderful storyteller and Jungian Clarissa Pinkola Estes goes into this in beautiful depth in her audio sessions on this, which I am really enjoying listening to right now.

Currently I’m working on a sweater, which has lacy, bell-like sleeves. I started to make it my own way. But I soon realized that this wasn’t going to work. I decided to change my thinking.

I invented an exotic new stitch, one that was special and for use just on this project. It’s called knit through front loop. Most of you would just call it “knit”.

I have decided that my way is not wrong: it’s just different. By dipping into and re-labeling this bit of knitting culture, in a curious and playful way, I can borrow the mainstream pattern without the need to judge anything.
It’s easy to blame ourselves for not fitting in, to lose confidence, and maybe to continue to do things in ways that feel wrong to us to satisfy the prevailing culture: the inner and the outer cultures both.

I’m waiting to see if the end result looks anything like the pattern.

Even if it does not, I thing I like the results so far.


  1. i love how you have knitted yourself together and of course the holes let the light in (and are the building blocks for being w-hole) there is always a choice x

  2. Yes- beautifully said faerian x

  3. Love that you're willing to explore and try different things ~ a lesson for us all!
    Big hugs ~~~

  4. Thanks Bobbie - hugs gratefully received


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