Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bummer Basket: When Knitting Goes Awry

I recently discovered a wonderful website called Craft Fail: “a community blog dedicated to sharing our not-so-successful crafting attempts.”

I joined Craft Fail immediately, and not just because of that lovely warm feeling of schadenfreude (noun - satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune), but also because I just happen to have a ridiculously failed project of my own, ready to share.

(Unlike the failed project sitting in my craft room right now, that is, a decoupage disaster waiting for me to photo it before giving it a decent burial. I may share that one later.)

This is the story I’m sending to Craft Fail.

The Bummer Basket, A Christmas Story

It started as such a simple plan: I wanted to knit a gift for my mom for Christmas. I love knitting for my mom, because no matter how lame my projects are, she “ooohs” and “ahhs”” and makes me feel as if I’m the best knitter in the world.

SecondTreasury So, last November I returned from Cat Bordhi’s knitting retreat all fired up about the Moebius cast-on & knitting techniques I’d just learned.

And in Cat’s Second Treasury of Magical Knitting book, I found the perfect Christmas gift project for my mom: the Moebius Bum Basket.

The Christmas countdown clock was ticking, but this project looked like a quick knit. And one which would be felted. Felting, I naively thought, would cover the multitude of sins I might commit as a new Moebius knitter.

This is Cat’s picture of her Moebius Bum Basket, which I intended to re-create:


It’s funny! It’s cute! It would make a great gift!

And before we go any farther, I want to make one thing completely clear: there is absolutely nothing wrong with Cat’s knitting pattern or instructions. This story is totally about operator error.

The Moebius bum basket is intended to be a sort of saddlebag, as you can see, two round baskets suspended from a shared handle in the middle. You begin by knitting the handle and the rim for both baskets, with waste yarn knitted into the middle of the rim.

When you finish the rim, you pull out the waste yarn to open up live stitches, like unzipping a zipper, and pick up and knit each half-basket downwards from the rim.

Cat warns, “You will find that the rim sts on your needle are grouped in oddly twisted sets …”

Yep, it certainly looked twisted at this point. And that’s where I got lost. I’m still not sure exactly how I did it – did I pick up those stitches upside down? Or backwards? Did I have a 50/50 chance of success, or only a 1 in 4?

Whatever … it wasn’t long before I suspected I’d made a terrible mistake. The stitches for the second basket compartment were buried deep within the interior of the first basket.

And for a while, in deepest denial, I actually knit faster.

When even I had to admit my project had gone horribly wrong, it was three days before I had to leave for Austin. The thing still had to be felted and dried. It was way too late to frog and re-start. In desperation, I decided I’d simply knit the second basket separately and suture it to the outside of the first basket. Everything would straighten out in the felting, right?

On the back jacket of Cat’s book, it says that Cat “likes nothing better than to have a knitting experiment go awry, because it means very interesting, possibly never-before-seen things are soon to be revealed.”

So, for your enjoyment, here’s my finished, possibly interesting, but certainly never-before-seen “bummer” basket:


Ta-daa! And please note that it looks equally stupid from any angle:



You know what may be the saddest part? I went ahead and gave it to my mom. That’s right, I wrapped it up and put it under the tree.

I wish you could have seen the look on her face, as she struggled to (a) figure out what on earth it was, and (b) come up with a compliment for it!

The bummer basket now lives at the back of the top shelf of her closet, along with the lopsided clay vase I made in kindergarten, and the souvenir pin I brought her from Washington D.C. in sixth grade, that has “Mother” spelled out in rhinestones above a dangling White House charm.

Good place for it.

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Sandia Park, NM

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