I ponder now and again the knitting bandwagon. It surprises me how often I pick out a pattern and discover via Ravelry that it is one of the “must knit” patterns. I have seen scathing comments about these projects – the most significant example being the Clapotis. I see statements such as “I haven’t knit a Clapotis, and I never will” in the context of shrugging off the bandwagon/not knitting with the sheep. Looking at the Ravelry Clapotis page today I see 4027 projects, and the Clapotis is also in 2296 queues. That’s a lot of scarves, to be sure. But how sheepish is it, really, to be knitting one (or more) of these projects?
Perhaps I should worry.
- I knit two “My So Called Scarf” projects (1904 projects, in 2376 queues)
- I cast on two pairs of Firestarter socks (150 projects, in 712 queues),
- plan one or more Gretel hats (270 projects, in 753 queues),
- and at least one Koolhaas hat (812 projects, in 1175 queues),
- have a Swallowtail shawl on hold at the moment (872 projects, in 845 queues),
- and want to make some Jaywalker socks soon (3062 projects, in 1361 queues.)
Am I a sheep?
Well, no, I do not believe so. I can confidently state that I don’t ask the question “what is everybody knitting this week?” and then rush around to find the pattern and cast on while it’s still the hot item. No – I search patterns for something like “socks” or “hat in aran weight” and I look around for hours before selecting the one that appeals to me/fits my yarn stash/I have free needles for. It seems that often my choices are the same as many others’.
Perhaps the “must have” pattern is not that at all. Perhaps the popular patterns are ones that earn the right to be knit so many times. Maybe, just maybe, they are well designed and well written and lend themselves well to adaptation. Because that’s what knitting is all about, is it not? Every single Clapotis is an original – the yarn choice and the colour choice and the particular adaptations to dimensions etc. all add up to make something highly individual. No two of those 4072 Clapotis projects will be the same.
I know one thing for sure (several things, actually) – I love my Clapotis and I don’t give one jot how many others have knitted it. It earned its right to be in my workbasket and it is earning its keep about my neck. It was fun to knit – simple but with enough action to keep me interested for two days’ knitting. It affords me a simple pride when I look at it and stroke it and think how clever I was to choose this particular yarn, and in this shade that does exactly what I wanted it to do, and how sensible I was to make it this particular size. It’s mine. My creation. Nobody else has one just like mine. Nobody. And it’s so good to wear and very useful with the central heating off! Besides, it is a great big world out there and four thousand Clapotis scarves isn’t a huge number really. Me and my Vibrotis aren’t likely to meet any distant relatives in the near future.
On the other hand, I did sign up to Ravelry.
Of course, in the old days, we all bought Woman or Woman’s Own or some such – and rushed out to stock up on yarn for the latest printed pattern only to find out there had been a run on it and it was out of stock. Not much changes. Though I would argue that Ravelry is more enabling and supports experimentation and adaptation, unlike those women’s magazines of old. I can’t recall then choosing yarn alternatives very often, or adapting in ways other than modifying a sleeve length here, or the number of rows of rib there. I believe it to be well worth joining the Ravelry flock. The ability to look up the result of potential choices is so incredibly useful. You want to make this pattern in that yarn? Somebody, somewhere will have had a go. The facts on yardage will be there. The photographic evidence of results can be viewed. It doesn’t take long to get confirmation of your choices or to understand that it was a daft idea and the pattern looks much better in some other alternative yarn. Woman’s Own never showed us pictures of “Readers’ Results” or what the sweater looked like on normally large and lumpy bodies 🙂