Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Knitting Ethics

A few days ago, I started experimenting with a technique called double knitting, which produces a double-thick fabric, stockinette stitch on both sides, with the pattern on each side the reverse image of the other.

Here's the other side of the project above. See how the colors are reversed?

So it's a fun little technique, and I'm really enjoying it, although I'm not very good at it yet. I cast on this project with junk acrylic yarn, just to practice, and kept telling myself I'd only work a few rows. But now I'm a few inches into what's starting to look like a scarf, and I don't want to rip it. I want to keep going.

The problem is that the thing's a mess: the gauge is too loose and there are a lot of mistakes. And I won't wear it. I have too many scarves as it is. So here are my options:

1. Be tough, frog the project, and start a real one with better yarn and a tighter gauge.

2. Finish it as practice, and then find a home for it even though it's misshapen and unlovely.

The first choice would be better for my soul, but the second is the one I like. I was thinking of donating the scarf to one of those "warm things for the homeless" drives, but that brings up the ethical issue: is it okay to donate a misshapen, unlovely object to charity just because the recipient can't afford anything better? That's better than the yarn going to waste, I suppose, but would the recipient feel insulted, even though this thing's going to be warmer than heck?

What would Jesus do?

Yeah, I know: Jesus would knit a real one with better yarn and a tighter gauge and give that to the homeless.

What would you do? What should I do? (Does anybody out there want an unlovely, misshapen acrylic scarf in odd shades of blue and purple? Send me your address! It's yours for the asking!)

While you're pondering this dilemma, other bits of news: First, the first day of classes went fine. And my sister and I had a Skype conversation today; we showed each other earrings, craft projects and cats -- the cats were none too fond of the process, however -- and at some point we're going to coax Mom to sit in front of the camera. Yay, Skype! I can't believe this program is free.

Oh, and I'm mid-heel on Gary's second sock, and happily planning more socks. They're becoming less ugly and misshapen all the time, although I'm still learning.


  1. Finish it and donate to a small child to be a teddy bear's or doll's scarf or blanket?

  2. Susan, this quandry reminds me of an altar guild member/good friend who insists that the altar cover sheet be spread a certain way and face all the right directions. It does its job of protecting the fair linen just as well when not facing east as when it is. The misshapen scarf will provide warmth no matter how it looks and that would be a blessing to a street person who might not care how they look but would rather have something someone else might not want to steal. Please give the scarf.


  3. Choose your soul. Always.

    And isn't Skype great! It's how I keep in touch with my son who's in college.

  4. I think it's a lovely scarf. I want to start learning how to double knit so it would be a nice example of a double knit scarf. I'd be happy to take it out of your hands. My email address is fun2knit@gmail.com, e-mail me if that's what you choose to do :)


  5. Anonymous1:54 AM

    I love all sorts of needlework (to the extent that my home frequently looks like it's been hit by a blizzard of fabric, yarn, and assorted UFOs), but one of the stories that has touched me most in my life was hearing that REAL oriental rugs (the ones made for use by the peoples of the near east, as opposed to the ones made for export by whomever, from wherever) are always made with a deliberate flaw, no matter how experienced the rug-maker.

    You see, in many societies of makers, it is widely acknowledged that only The Maker is perfect, and thus the attempt to achieve a state of perfection in itself and for itself is a sin; is hubris.

    I don't know if this helps you on your way to making a decision, but it's helped this poor perfectionist many times. Sometimes UFOs aren't meant to be finished. Sometimes they aren't meant to be kept. Sometimes they are meant to be treasured.

    The important thing is that you keep learning, keep experimenting, keep trying. Sometimes it's only in losing ourselves in the attempt to be like Jesus that we find out who He really is.


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