John was new to Weekword last week and is in at the deep end hosting this week. He’s picked a stonker of a word, though! There’s so much we could say about transition – it’s such a big concept. But I’m going to keep my compass quite narrow and talk about a small, but very pleasing, transition I’ve gone through recently.
I knit. I love knitting. I learned about five years ago and since then, I’ve gradually increased in confidence. I substitute yarns with reckless abandon. I modify collars and add buttons. But generally speaking, I follow the rules and stick, more or less, to the waymarked path. Well. You may remember that a while ago I posted about a forthcoming knitting project, freeform knitting. Freeform is about taking a simple stitch pattern (in this case, feather and fan, a four row lace pattern) and then just… playing. Using whatever yarns you like, even if they’re ‘wrong’ for the size of needle. Not planning ahead, just going with the flow. This is not how I rock, generally. The booklet I bought gave an outline and some suggestions, but very breezily said that my garment would come out nothing like the author’s (but would be ‘just as gorgeous’, she added confidently). Well, she was certainly right on the first count. My shawl looks nothing like hers. At all. For one thing, it’s huge. But I do think it’s rather gorgeous. In a very pink and slightly crazy sort of way.
And it has begun a process of transition. Because there was minimal instruction for this – just sticks and string. So I had to think – really think – about what I was doing. And although it didn’t come out as I hoped, I understand why. I now know what I need to do to get the fabric the way I want it. So even though this thing took hours on end, before it was even finished, I was thinking, ‘Next time…’ I decided that it needed ‘finishing’, so I crocheted an edge. I am a bit of a crochet novice – in fact, I have crocheted one square and the edge to a cardigan. And that’s it. So I crocheted a sort of freeform edge, with shells (which I made up and aren’t actually how you’re ‘meant’ to do shells) to keep the waviness. Can you see the transition I’m talking about? I decided what I wanted to do. I worked out how to do it. I did it. It didn’t even occur to me to consult a book because I could see how I could get the effect I wanted. This is not something I would have done in November.
My first ever proper crochet project. And here’s a mark of how much I’ve changed. I made it shorter than the pattern said. And when I’d crocheted the number of rows the pattern said, I decided it was too thin, so I did some more. Even though I can do only a few crochet stitches, that feeling of control – of taking the string and the hook or the sticks, and just doing what I need to do to get them to look how I want – is still there. So the freeform shawl has been the first step on a new journey – the start of the transition from pattern-follower to independent yarn-wrangler. And I love it.