November 05, 2015

Knitter's Bias

My middle son recently had to read the marvelous book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell for his English class.  If you haven't read it or any of his other mind-blowing books, you really should. But, that's beside the point. So my son had to read this book and then he had to do a power point, which invariably means that mom had to do a power point because, well, the whole space/time continuum would probably be thrown into chaos if a child in my household did an entire project on any night other than the night before it's due. Maybe you can relate.  One of the premises of this book is that we all operate, particularly experts in their field on something called "unconscious bias".  Unconscious bias is your brain's ability to take in gobs of information unconsciously at first glance and draw an unexplainable conclusion to give you a snap judgement. We knitter's like to refer to that as the feeling that something is definitely wonky.

This brings me to the carefully planned and currently on-track execution of Christmas knitting.  I was so organized this year that I had ALL of my yarn and ALL of my projects planned, ordered, and wound into their corresponding yarn cakes by the middle of October.  I am half-way through 2 projects and contemplating a third while also whipping out that darned Floria shawl and working up 2 shawl patterns--one for December release and one for the book.  I am on the ball this year!  That is to say ... until my unconscious bias kicked in about the 3rd round of these mitts, at which point anyone else would probably have checked the yarn labels--who am I kidding? No you wouldn't have. I thought "something's wonky here" and kept knitting. All evening I kept wondering what it was. Did I have more stitches on one cuff than the other?  Nope. Exactly right stitch count. Was one yarn thicker than the other? That looks like it may actually be true. But now that I know what the REAL problem is.  It's the color.  Darn it if one isn't a little greener than the other!?! Considering this is supposed to be a "natural" color from Knit Picks, that didn't seem right.  Surely it was just bad lighting, right?



I'll bet you are looking at the picture and you might not be seeing green, but you are definitely picking up on how the left isn't the same as the right. So I went to the trash can this morning and dug out the labels and darn it if they aren't the same dye lot.  What kind of malevolent person would send out 2 different dye lots during the holiday knitting season?! The kind that deserves a 20lb bag of coal in his stocking, that's for sure!  As a matter of a fact, the yellowing of one of the two labels compared to the bright, just-printed-yesterday white of the other tells me that these two skeins may not even have been manufactured in the same decade. (Sigh.)

As I was sitting here, writing this bit of knitterly warning, I came to the (sigh) conclusion that one of these cuffs had to come off the needles. I am going to have to (gasp!) try to eke out 2 mitts from one skein.  Clearly, one is thicker than the other.

So what's a gal to do?  I probably don't need to scrap the project.  I think the best plan is to add a second color to the mix and work what was going to be a pair of plain Jane grey mitts into a pair of snazzy Fair Isle mitts.


I decided that I would simply have to get cozy with Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting.  Since my cast-on dimensions fit my mother-in-law's hands and not the prescribed patterns of what I can find on Ravelry, I'm having to improvise.  Fortunately, I have a skein of white in the same weight from Knit Picks that appears to have been an accidental purchase because I can't for the life of me figure out why it is in the Christmas knitting supplies box.  It goes with nothing in there. CLEARLY someone in the universe expected me to be in this dilemma.  Maybe it was my psychic intuition and I subconsciously knew that some not-so-crafty Knit Picks stock boy would make this kind of unforgivable mistake and so I ordered it.

The palm looks like this:

And by lunch time today I was working a thumb gusset and my improvised pattern was taking shape, though it is killing me to only be able to work one mitt at a time.  Killing me, I say!


Lesson here? Check your labels.  No matter how organized and ahead of the game you think you are, check your labels.  At least this project is happening now and not in the 13th hour of Christmas Eve and I can step back and re-group.  You might not be so lucky.

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