Favorite Thing Friday: Failing Without Giving Up

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Sometimes a project just doesn’t work out. No matter how beautiful the yarn or how much you’ve mastered a new skill, there are some projects that just refuse to come together!

This week, I finally had to give up on a project I’ve been working on since May. The Box Pleat Scoopneck captured my attention the moment I saw it in the Summer edition of Knit Wear magazine. Soon after, I bought some beautiful yarn at one of my favorite yarn shops. The heathered copper color of Filatura Di Crosa Potrofino seemed like the perfect match for the stylish pleated top I was so excited to make.

At the point of cast on, everything seemed to be going great. I loved how the yarn handled the rolled rib at the hem and the color variation was just gorgeous as the piece grew larger. I loved the weight of the yarn and it’s smooth texture.

However, it was at the halfway point that I started to have doubts. The very things I loved about the yarn turned out to be the biggest problems. The subtle satin finish caused some of the stitches to slip and even twist due to the weight of the finished fabric. I suspect my gauge calculations had something to do with it as well.

Yet, I kept going because I thought I was over thinking it. I have a tendency to let my perfectionism taint any craft project I’m working on, so I was determined to fight through the doubt. Besides, wet blocking would likely help those wayward stitches, right?

Then, came the day I reached the point of splitting the front and back to make sleeves. I held the garment up to my body to see if the sizing was correct and I just about died. That beautiful silky fabric highlights every imperfection – everything from the button of my jeans to the jiggle in my hips, (however, for the record, the sizing was correct!).

No amount of determination was going to save this one. It was all over and I was okay with that. Some things are meant to be, but my copper colored Box Pleat Scoopneck is not one of them.  As soon as I get a chance, I’ll be ripping out each stitch as I rewind the yarn back into a ball.

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Doomed from the start!

While this sounds like a total failure, I haven’t given up yet! Shortly after making the decision to shelf this project, I ordered new yarn, (a gorgeous medium weight, superwash wool). As soon as it gets here, I’ll have another go at this top!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

2013 Goals: Year In Review

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When I set my 2013 goals, I had no idea just how much I’d learn from reaching some of the goals on my list and utterly failing at others. We all walk into goals with the best of intentions, but sometimes failing is just as important as succeeding. After all, without mistakes we’d never learn what doesn’t work.

For example, I learned setting sub-goals may be an organized way of thinking, but it doesn’t suit my writing process. My muse did not like the feeling of a micromanager hovering over her for most of the year, so the concept of sub-goals went out the window by June.

While I didn’t accomplish everything on my list, I still consider 2013 a very successful year in terms of writing. I ended up completing the goals that challenged me the most and pushed me to be a little braver.  By the end of the year I had a completed final draft for Novel #2 and I found the courage to pitch it. A few years ago, all of this would have been impossible for me to even consider. I’ve come a long way!

Like last year, I kept track of my goals on a makeshift spreadsheet. Here’s the rundown for each goal:

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I’m already putting together my goals for 2014. While I’m keeping them relatively simple, I’m also making sure they push me to go a little further.

How did you do on your 2013 goals?

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c.b.w. 2013

From Epic Fail to Grand Success

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My journey into the knitting world started with a sock loom and gradually evolved towards using traditional needles. I made more than 20 pairs of socks, 4 hats, 1 scarf, 1 cowl, and 1 blanket before I took on a challenge that was waaaay beyond my skill level. I blame Interweave Knits magazine for presenting a pattern for a super cute camisole. Despite having limited experience with knitting needles, I decided I needed to make the Hashtag Camisole. How hard could it be? Famous last words.

I hunted online for a good deal on the yarn, albeit a different color than the pattern stipulated, (Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy, #28 Blue Pine Green). Once it showed up on my doorstep, I should have taken it as a sign that I was in over my head. Even though it was beautiful, I didn’t know yarn could be that thin and split so easily at the same time. Still, my love for that camisole overtook any sense of rational thought.

Before digging into my pricey stash of yarn, I played it smart by using crappy yarn to learn all the new stitches I needed to master as well practice the chevron lace pattern that dominates the piece from top to bottom. After completing a nice sample, I felt confident in moving forward with the project.

All went well with casting on, creating the hem, and knitting the lace pattern itself . . . until row 28. Disaster! After a routine stitch count, I realized I had dropped a stitch. Worse still, it was near a yarn over, so the hole was huge. I had no idea how to reconstruct the stitch and those that fell apart around it. After more than two hours of trying everything, I thought I had it fixed. I was so wrong. Within seconds, another stitch dropped. Soon after, an extra stitch magically appeared in another section. Don’t ask me how this happened because I still don’t know.

I ended up ripping out every row in a mad fury of frustration. Then, I grumbled as I wound the yarn mess back into a little ball. Grrrrrrrrr!

After two days, I decided the pattern and the yarn were not going to win. I picked up my needles and started over again. This time, I was more careful about placing markers and counting stitches. I think my initial mistake was over-excitment with a dash of biting off more than I could chew. Not one to go down easily, I made the choice to learn from my mistakes. I took my time and went about my work one stitch at a time.

In two months, I had a beautiful Hashtag Camisole without a single dropped stitch. It fits like a glove and actually looks identical to the picture in the magazine (just in a different color).

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My Hashtag Camisole!

Completing this project was an odyssey to say the least, but I’m glad I stuck with it and didn’t give in to frustration. I even got a little bonus when the designer of the pattern favorited my finished project on ravelry.com. If that’s not awesome, I don’t know what is!

Knit on!

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c.b.w. 2013

Wreck This Journal: Keep Trying

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Some pages in Wreck This Journal come together very easily, while others are extremely challenging. Then, there are the pages that qualify as epic failures.  And I don’t mean that in a bad way.  These failures might be better classified as learning moments or works in progress because I can look back on them and say, “Hey, I tried.”  I don’t like to fail, but I’ve always believed that trying matters.

The perfectionist in me hates to see an unfinished page or a botched concept, but they do have value in that mistakes are the first step to learning.  Without epic failures there would be no reason to push forward and try something different.  After all, Wreck This Journal is all about discovering a new viewpoint and daring to approach life with reckless curiosity.  Or at the very least, its about learning to have a really good sense of humor about myself.  It’s not a new idea, but it’s definitely one worth embracing.  As the saying goes: Those who can laugh at themselves shall never cease to be amused.  With this spirit in mind, I’ve selected a few pages in my journal that are constant sources of amusement as they represent some of my stellar “What was I thinking?” moments.

Towards the back of Wreck This Journal there is a page that gives instructions to doodle on the front cover.  I’m not much of a random doodler, so this was a bit of a challenge to begin with and things only got worse the more I tried to make it happen.  I thought it might be fun to use a metallic silver gel pen, so I made a little border around the edge with dots and squiggles.  It looked pretty good until I found out the ink smudged if anything touched it!  No matter how long I let it dry, the ink refused to stick!  Even after two days I was able to wash it off with a sponge.  Back to square one!

For my second attempt, I whipped out the paint pens and made polka dots from top to bottom.  After they dried and didn’t smear, I thought it might be fun to add glitter glue over the top of some of the dots.  For more than an hour I squeezed red, blue, green, gold, and silver glitter onto various polka dots.  It look so cute and sparkly when it dried!  Too bad they all popped off as soon as I opened the journal.

  

There’s also the little problem that I can’t bring myself to bend the cover to cause damage.  The cover is still a work in progress and perhaps one day I’ll overcome the roadblocks that stand in the way of doodling success.

On another page, I was supposed to draw an endless line.  I easily accomplished this, but when I decided to decorate my line, things went horribly awry.  For some reason, I thought adding a spiral would make it more interesting, but it only made the special effects in 1960s time travel movies look more realistic.  I credit poor color choice and failure to think things through for the ruin of this page.

I failed utterly and completely on another page in that I didn’t follow directions and my design ideas totally backfired.  The directions asked me to connect the dots with my eyes closed and I did all the way until I peeked.  Then, I got the brilliant idea to fill the page with large circles and color them with two colors that do not compliment one another.  I learned two things: 1) I can’t draw circles without a little help. 2) Coloring large circles with yellow and green makes them look like Mountain Dew bubbles under a microscope.

With each failure, I was reminded of the choice that exists when something goes wrong.  I can beat myself up and pout OR I can pick myself up and learn from the mistake.  Whether its an academic, professional, creative, or personal mistake, I must keep trying.  This especially applies to writing, a realm where I’m bound to make a slew of mistakes.  Everything from spelling, grammar, descriptions, poor first/last lines, format, sentence structure, syntax, etc. includes a mistake waiting to happen.  The list is endless and every mistake will be glaringly obvious and pointed out to me.  Am I going to sit and pout?  No.  I am going to keep trying.

(I might laugh a little, too.)

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For previous Wreck This Journal entries, please see my sidebar and tag cloud.

c.b. 2012