I have a target. Not long after I started this little project, I decided I was going to plow ahead and knit 100 rugs and see what happened, knowing that I would learn something along the way and that it was impossible to predict what it was that I would learn.
My stash, and approach to managing same, has completely changed since I started. The first few rugs were knit from a selection of fibers that fit in one file cabinet drawer. Now I have a room full of stash, in both weaving and knitting cuts, sorted by color. That amount of stash alone promises more interesting options. The quilts that I find attractive are made from hundreds of fabrics, not eight or ten matching, deliberately-coordinated prints purchased on one trip to the quilting fabric store.
My first rugs were carefully color-matched, and I’d select the “next” color individually from the yarns pulled for a particular project. Now, I pull the colors and tie up huge balls of the various colors needed; the knitting flies but the color shifts are somewhat random. A bit of fine tuning is lost to the speed; it’s a choice. It’s easier to knit in public, or in the car, when I’m knitting from one ball rather than rooting through a selection of yarns trying to match a shifting shade.
My first rugs were also hit and miss on the total yardage needed, and when I was done, I had no idea of how much fiber I’d used. I was well into my Total count before I learned I needed to measure the input for each and every project, and then record how much I had used, and whether I needed to add more along the way. I’m learning that it takes a bit less than 60 yards of fiber to knit a square foot of rug; it’s handy to know when planning projects that require the rarer colors (good yellows, some pinks, oranges, and actually, browns). Blues and reds are always available, and I seem to be able to keep up with all the black my rugs call for. I do design somewhat to available stash; when the particular drawer gets too full to hold any more incoming, it’s time to knit a rug based on that color. I should always have something in blue on the needles…
I keep a print out of tiny pictures of all the rugs I’ve completed on the door in front of my PC where I can see it while I work. One of my design goals is that the rug should look good in miniature; I’m not partial to work that disappears completely when reduced. It’s easier to see values and color shifts from a distance, too, and printing at 1/8″=1′ is as good as using a reducing glass from across the room.
I’ve learned not to knit with sweatshirt fabric, and I don’t like knitting denim. I don’t bring clothes home if the color doesn’t go all the way through the fabric. The good side rarely makes it to the top of a knitting stitch, and never if the fabric is itself knit (stockinette rolls, right? Knitters know this. T-shirts are stockinette…)
I don’t know what else I’m going to see before I even get to 50 finished rugs. I am learning more and more about color, and when I have completed a few rugs in a given pattern, I become more interested in pushing that pattern. Four spirals done, and now I’m thinking about multi-centered spirals and what happens when you move color around the spiral more. How do I tie up a self-shading ball?
Now I’m knitting up a real storm, with six rugs out to a gallery and a need for more. Had to take a break from finishing my taxes this morning and lay out colors for a spring rug, inspired by the same energy that drove October. Still working on what Dierdre Amsden calls “Colourwash,” not sure that I can tie up blended colors but it’s time to try. And the worst that happens is that I get another rug from the attempt.
If I had allowed myself to stop when I thought I was “done,” I would never has mastered the amount of shading I can now do easily, or created triple spirals, or the nautilus. I have discovered some ways of knitting I won’t do again, as well. And by sticking with the series, I was ready and willing to seep into weaving when the loom appeared. (Or perhaps that happened the other way around.) Now I’m looking at more teaching, and selling kits.
All because I decided to see what 100 rugs would look like.