I’ve just finished re-knitting Lilias Day. This second version is really very different from the first and I’m excited to show it to you (hopefully soon). While I was working on the yoke, I started to think about how very fundamental the experience of re-knitting is, certainly to the way I knit, and in some respects to all knitting.
One way of looking at knitting is as re-knitting: that is, as repeating the same thing over and over and over again. We make one stitch, or a group of stitches, we place the stitches on the needle and we repeat. What I mean is that all knitting might be seen as a kind of re-knitting, in the sense that it is a process of continual repetition or reiteration, our hands performing the same series of tiny actions, re-forming what they’ve formed before, going over the same familiar ground.
But I suppose what I started thinking about when finishing off my yoke was the perhaps far less fundamental question of the sheer number of sweaters I’d knit twice, or more than twice, and why I’d done so. The more I thought about it, the more the sweaters mounted up owls . . . . Paper Dolls . . . Carbeths . . .
Much of the time I knit a second version of the same sweater just because I want another one. This was definitely the case with Carbeth, which turned out to be so useful a winter sweater, and so very quick to whip up, that I was able to quickly make versions of different lengths in several different colours. How satisfying!
Sometimes Mel and I knit several versions of something to explore different colourways, or indeed just for fun.
And on many occasions, we knit a second or third version of a design because we need another sample for an event or some photography. As Mel would happily tell you, this is often because I’ve enjoyed wearing the original sample a bit too much, and she has deemed the worn piece unacceptable for public view, but it can also be because we need to use a different yarn or shade.
We’ve knit Peerie Flooers several times for example, in a range of different yarns and colourways. This current version is my confirmed favourite, and I’m doing my best to ensure the sample sees continuous wear this winter (sorry, Mel!)
But my own most common experience of re-knitting is as something completely integral to the process of design. I knit two complete versions of Pavey Wavey, for example, preferring the shaping of the second, and there are currently three versions of Knowe knocking around, as Mel and I tested out knitting the design top-down or bottom-up (the pattern is now written to be knitted either way). Mel (who among her many qualities possesses considerable forbearance) also has to put up with me changing my mind about a design or shaping element, as she pulls back and re-knits a sweater from my corrected and re-worked instructions. So whichever way you look at it, there’s an awful lot of re-knitting going on around here!
Perhaps the best kind of re-knitting is when you just can’t stop yourself, and you enjoy a pattern so much you just have to make it again. I myself have knit several different pairs of Baffies for exactly this reason, and have often wondered why it is that these wee slippers are such a peculiarly addictive knit. I think it is something about the different elements, their variety (the toe, the colourwork section, the simple garter stitch heel) and how quickly the whole thing comes together into a satisfying whole.
I’ve spoken to a few knitters upon whom the Baffies pattern seems to have had a similar effect, but perhaps none more so than Diane, who recently got in touch with us to tell us about the no less than seven different pairs of Baffies that she’d knitted for herself, her friends, and family.
Diane’s daugher, Lily, recently caught the knitting bug, and Diane started her off with a pair of Baffies, which she completed successfully as her first-ever knitting project. Colourwork and small-circumferences? Lily, that’s very impressive! Now everyone has a pair of Baffies, Diane herself has now moved on to Bieldy – which she’s apparently also finding an addictive knit. I wonder how many pairs she’ll make . . .
What’s your experience of re-knitting? Do you love it or loathe it? Have you ever make the same pattern twice, or several times? Why? Tell us below!