Everything is a learning process. When we learned to walk, most of us didn't just get up off the floor and run. We took a few trembling steps, and fell down. We got up and tried again, and maybe fell a few more times. A foot went out wonky, and we did a face-plant. Eventually, we could get up, take aim at a goal, and make a run for it.
At some point we stopped trying, because we could just do it. The face-plants come as a shocking surprise now and then, and yet they still happen. Occasionally.
All this fiber stuff is just like learning to walk, except there is often a physical reminder of the face-plant stage. A sock that has slightly too many holes in it is still a sock. We might wear it, and wear it out, but we also try again, and maybe again and again, until we can pick up those stitches and leave no holes and have A Sock, rather than a sad little sock. Then, of course, we have to do it again (we need Two Socks). The second sock might not be A Sock, but we've gained experience, confidence, and eventually we just knit socks.
So here's a saga, from face-plant stage to not-yet-Sock stage, that has kept me entertained for weeks. Several months ago, I showed you this bag:
Knotted pile, handspun, love the bag itself but there was something not-quite-right about the handle. I sewed it all together though, and took it with me to Asilomar, as a work-in-progress. I love to have examples of not-quite-right for show and tell. I learn more from my mistakes, the analyzing, the fussing, the do-overs, than I do from the projects that go smoothly. In fact, I have the firm belief that the projects that go smoothly are not my own: they are done with the assistance of some other-worldly being who thinks the world needs that One Perfect Bag to remain in tight spin on its axis.
However: we are talking about the process of becoming adept here, and while other-worldly help would be welcome, it usually requires just work. Work, work and more work, and I know the irony of using the term work for something that is really just play.
So here's the first band, the not so successful one, which became the handle for the bag:
Leaving out that it was too short for the bag, the design fell short of the mark. I wanted a certain look, a design that looked like a ribbon wrapped around a pole. On paper, it all looked like it would work, but in yarn, or at least in the yarn I chose, it did not.
I tried a second time, with other yarns, but with the original pattern draft, at the left of this band:
Still didn't work, so I started fussing with it. I dropped a few threads, then a few more, and marked each new version with a red thread. Eventually, the band was closer to the look I wanted:
There was still a slight variation I thought would help, so I warped up a band in cotton yarns, with the new threading, which I liked:
tried a different color weft (whoops! not so good):
And then tested an even further variation:
Oops, went too far. This one is too spare, even though it is indeed like a ribbon wrapping around a pole. The one above looks like two ribbons wrapping, and I like that better. To celebrate the just-rightness of the design, I did a longish band, in handspun silk:
Then I had another idea, oh dear, which will require more *work*, such as it is. Stay tuned, more to come. Progress however, is being made, step by little step. Face-plants free with every effort.
You can see (I think, I hope) why I thought it was important for that ribbon-wrapped quality of the design, yes, on yet another bag:
The first bag got a completely different band:
Rethink, rethink. It's a mantra. Even with many years of learning behind me, I still stumble and fall. If I never succeeded, I probably wouldn't be so sanguine about the pratfalls. But success only comes with effort, with failures, with trying. I don't mind telling you about it, I don't mind showing people the steps, because I think they eventually lead to competence, for me, and, I hope, for you.