Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Challenge of the Re-do

Back when I read parenting books, I remember how one author encouraged parents to let their children participate in activities around the house -- cooking, dusting, washing the car. But she stressed that a parent should never "re-do" the child's work (at least that the child could see); this could make the child feel as if his work wasn't good enough. I really took that advice to heart, at least until the girls got to high school, and asked me to re-do for them: ripping out a seam on a 4-H dress, revising an English paper, going back to dad with one of their plans he had vetoed originally.

So maybe that's why it was so difficult for me to take apart the Pen Pal sweater, this beautiful garment that a sister knitter had put so much time, effort and love into.

Upon looking at the sweater, it didn't take long for me to realize that Ms. Pen Pal is a much better knitter than I am. The fine gauge, the even stitches, the intricate lace work at the placket and neckline. Her work far exceeds "good enough", and her only "error" was in not knowing the measurement across ME's shoulders; as the sweater was a surprise birthday gift, asking ME to send along her shoulder measurement might have been a bit suspicious!

I knew what I needed to do and I had a plan, but actually doing it was almost painful. I had hoped to be able to pick out the seam without using scissors, but she had skillfully used a strong mattress stitch, and had woven the ends in so completely that there was no trace of a yarn end. Rats. Very carefully, I pulled at the seam until I was sure of which strands of yarn were knitted, and which were the seaming yarn. I took one snip, and then worked at the yarn ends until I had the arm of the sweater off and about two inches of the shoulder seam opened. A deep breath, and then the other side. Finally the sweater was in three pieces, ready to be altered and re-seamed.

Ripping apart my own knitting is frustrating. Seeing the look on the face of one of the knit Night knitters when I tell her that she needs to rip out a few rows pulls at my heart a little -- we all know that frustration. But taking apart a masterful knitter's work and cutting away hundreds of her stitches just seemed altogether wrong, even though I knew it was for the right reason.

Is this a serious problem? Not really. Am I taking it too seriously? You bet.

Peace, to the world and to our hearts.

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