Crafting Repetition

27 Feb

Knitters talk about “Second Sock Syndrome”, where, once one sock is completed, you just don’t feel any energy or desire to work on the second, and the one sock is left there, forlorn, the pair incomplete. I have Second Sock Syndrome pretty bad, myself. It also manifests as “Second Sleeve Syndrome”.  Many of my sweater projects are short sleeves, to allow for my sleeve impatience, and for my “Que Sera” sweater I compensated by knitting both sleeves at the same time, from two separate skeins of yarn.
The reason, for me personally, is that one of the key things I enjoy about knitting is the process of discovery along the way: this  is how this stitch motif works up, here is how you adjust it for decreases, here is how you bring the shoulder together with the sleeve. It’s like a puzzle, and once I’ve uncovered the process, the puzzle is “solved” in my head, and to repeat it all over again, stitch for stitch, seems as appealing to  me as working the same crossword puzzle twice to a crossword aficionado. I already know how it all fits together!

I know there are as many ways to think about knitting as there are knitters, but for me, the puzzle component is essential  to my enjoyment. I rarely knit the same thing twice, and if I do, I make dramatic changes–a completely different fiber or weight, or adding in new details to the design.
Now, I’m discovering that this need for a puzzle and the “Second Sock Syndrome” is extending to my sewing, as well.  Yes, I made five different versions of my Wear the Shift pattern. But each one was a variation on the theme, and that amplified the “puzzle” rather than diminish it: how does the pattern work, on a stretch fabric? How does it work with this sleeve, with a back zipper, with a collar, with different darts?  The puzzle was ongoing, and intrigue built into the process.

Where SSS affects my sewing most is with muslins. I understand, intellectually, the usefulness of mocking up a pattern before cutting into your good, expensive fabric. I particulary think it’s good when venturing into whole new realms of garment construction, and I have two underway, right now: one for my blazer project and one for my cape jacket.

And this is where my sewer’s “Second Sock Syndrome”  kicks in full blast.  I’m puzzling through the process, and rather than a finished item to be proud of, all I end up with is a muslin pattern with marks all over it. And while it may be nice to take that pattern and find good fabric to make it in, part of my brain has already galloped off singing “Tra, la la, what ELSE might I make today? Something new and exciting, that I’ve never made before!”

When offered the choice between finishing up that muslin for once and for all, and then making the entire thing over again one more time, or finding a brand-new pattern and starting afresh on something undiscovered, my personality is such  that I will choose the new thing, nearly every time. So my muslin blazer mock-up lies partially finished in a laundry basket, like so many singleton socks in my collection.

Yes, my real blazer muslin has only one sleeve, too. It’s as if my “Second Sleeve” problem from knitting crashed my sewing party with a vengeance. Usually by the time I set the sleeves into a sewing project, I’m rolling down the home stretch in my mind, envisioning wearing my garment out in the world, happily anticipating the conclusion. But for the muslin, that first sleeve loomed so large, the first of four I would have to sew before I would ever have a wearable blazer, that I haven’t yet even been able to move on to the second.

Maybe there is no cure. It’s possible that this is just part of my crafting personality that I will have to perpetually take into account when lining up new projects: I have a limited attention span, and little patience for repetition, and that will shape my sewing projects as much as it has always shaped my knitting.


6 Responses to “Crafting Repetition”

  1. prttynpnk February 27, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    So glad that you have defined my illness! I want tnt patterns and wearable muslins, but i run to bright shiny new objects and seldom repeat…but i want to!

  2. Angela Barry February 27, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    I have this personality trait, too, but I have been finding recently that I get a lot of satisfaction out of pushing myself to complete and I usually learn something doing to second sleeve/sock, even though I thought I had figured it out.

  3. Catherine Daze February 28, 2012 at 2:30 am #

    Funny, I have almost the opposite problem. Whenever I finish a garment I usually want to make more of the same thing! I don’t always do it but I have a number of duplicates in my wardrobe. And a pile of new uncut patterns I’ll probably never get to.

  4. roobeedoo February 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    Oh dear – I have the same problem. I am forcing myself to make my “wearable muslins” completely wearable (so really not muslins at all) because otherwise I might never own a made-up version of the pattern. “Second time around” loses its sparkle.

    • handmadejulie February 29, 2012 at 9:43 am #

      That is a really good idea–“wearable muslins”. I saw one blogger who used a bedsheet for a dress muslin, and that was really cute.

  5. brownbirdgreenstring February 28, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    I detest knitting sleeves too! And second socks. And I have never made a muslin pattern and now I know why…plus my fabric is usually not “good” or expensive….

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