Cautious vs impulsive

A few weeks ago, I saw a photo of the Tin Roof pattern (Ravelry link) by Yamagara Knits:

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© yamagara

The pattern is designed so that you can be creative. It is flexible and is a great way to combine different yarns from your stash and let you find a use for single skeins. The minute I saw the pattern, I had a flash to a bag, located somewhere in my stash, of multiple skeins of Quince & Co Sparrow linen yarn.

I have a complicated story with Sparrow. When the yarn was released, many years ago now, I saw it at Loop in London, loved the beautiful shades and the crispness of the linen, and went a bit crazy buying lots of it. I then twice tried to knit a summer top with it, and both of them ended up being put aside. I just didn’t like the Sparrow. First of all, it torques – the knitting gets stretched out to one side. Tin Roof is knitted from side to side, however. Plus, the not insubstantial bit of stockinette and ribbing added on to the bottom of the panels, seems like it would give a bit of stability to the piece and keep it from torqueing. In other words, I think that the way the top is constructed would mitigate for the tendency of the knitted fabric to torque.

I also didn’t like the texture of the Sparrow in the two projects I had tried to knit before. I had used a US4 needle to knit them, and found the finished fabric had lost the crispness which was part of what appealed to me about the yarn. So, I determined to knit up a swatch with a US3 needle. And guess what: the gauge is only slightly different from the US4, but the resultant fabric is significantly nicer. Here is the swatch on the US3:

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It is hard to see from the photo, but it has a really great feel to it. It is like a completely different yarn knitted at this gauge. And here you can see the fantastic colours of Sparrow from my stash and can imagine how pretty they would look in this top:

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This, then, is the “Cautious” bit of the title of this post. This is my normal way of figuring out a project. It involves a lot of time – I think about the project, I think about the yarn, I look at all of the project photos and notes from knitters, I think about it some more. I ask for opinions – Doug and I will have lengthy discussions about it, I will call the kids up and annoy them: “What do you think of this one?” “How will it look with this yarn?” Eventually, I will buy the pattern and examine it minutely before deciding whether to cast on. I will swatch. In this case, I have been thinking for at least two weeks, have the yarn in stash, and have even swatched. I am still working up to buying the pattern. I am moving very slowly and deliberately towards casting this on.

Occasionally, however, I find myself making a total impulse buy. These are sometimes fantastic buys, and are frequently disasters. I made an impulse buy this last week. I received a newsletter from Loop, and in it they mentioned that they were putting together kits for the Scout Shawl (Ravelry link) from Florence Spurling, which could be pre-ordered. They posted a photo of the shawl:

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© Florence Spurling

This was before the shawl pattern was listed on Ravelry, so I had virtually no information about it, other than the photo. I bought it instantly. Only later did I realise that it wasn’t steeked. This shawl is knitted back and forth, with both stranding and intarsia! I must be insane! Yes, it is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, but, I repeat, it is knitted back and forth, with both stranding and intarsia! On the other hand, I keep saying that I need a challenge to kick-start me back into a creative space. Maybe this is it. I don’t feel as if my knitting skills are up to this, but how else does one up-skill except by doing?

There you have it: two approaches to choosing a project. Cautious and impulsive: which do you use?