Mary has found a lovely new shawl for her next knitalong. This really is a lovely pattern, and the designer certainly has an eye and a sense of style, not to mention a great photographer. But like so many newish designers, she's got a beautiful picture and a set of basic instructions, but the specifics are kind of missing. For instance, she gives the needle size she used but not the gauge she got with those needles. Frustrating? Maybe. But I actually appreciate the freedom it offers. Those are the needles she used for the yarn she chose, but your yarn choice will probably require a different needle size. it depends not only on the yarn you choose, but how you knit, and more importantly, how you want your fabric to look. Try to remember that the most creative aspect of knitting from someone else's pattern is the part where we get to make choices. You know, free will and all that. Which yarn will you use? What color palette do you want? What kind of fabric do you envision? Then there is the judgment aspect. What sized needle will get that fabric for you? You can try one or the other, and see how it goes. That's what a swatch is for. Or not. It's just a shawl, after all.
Or you could just jump in and just go. These are just a few of the creative choices we have open to us, because knitting garments and accessories is different than ordering them from a catalog, and so it should be. Sure, the catalog is a great place to start, but it's just a suggestion, an idea, an inspiration. I know it takes experience to have the confidence to venture off the path. You might make the wrong color choice, or you might find that the needle you chose made your fabric too tight, or too loose. Okay. What's the worst that can happen then? Maybe you block it out to a looser fabric. Maybe you give it a little bath and a slight fulling. Or maybe you really hate it, and you decide to rip it all out. That's okay too. You'll not have wasted any time, because you will have learned, and you'll be able to approach it again with a little more experience. How nice to have another chance at to do it over, differently this time.
As my darling daughter Katie, who was the most challenging of teenagers, but has grown into a perfectly lovely young woman, once said to me, "You know, Mom, good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment."
I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table. You are always welcome here.