Friday, June 22, 2012


Perhaps "disqualified" is not the proper term.  Yes, I suppose “ineligible” is the more appropriate word.  I am referring, of course, to Cathy’s First Annual Design Competition.  The specific details for this contest can be found on Cathy’s website:, but I’ll share with you the general story behind the whole thing.

Cathy just started carrying this wonderful new yarn by a Swedish company that I myself was not familiar with (So many yarn companies.  So little time.).  The yarn is called Kashmir Alpakka.  As the name suggests, it is an alpaca-cashmere blend.  For this contest you have to come up with an original design using three skeins or less of this lovely wool.  There are other rules, and they're all on the website, but those are the two most important ones: Original design, three skeins or less.

I was thrilled when I first heard Cathy’s idea not too long ago.  I was going to temporarily abandon my other ongoing knitting projects and devote all my energies to the contest.  But then, Cathy nonchalantly informed me that I would not be allowed to participate.  I explained to her that there wouldn’t be any conflict of interest as the people voting would have no idea that I was married to the person running the contest.  Alas, Cathy did not budge.  Well, if I can’t win the contest, there is nothing wrong with my divulging the strategies I was going to use to win the $100 gift certificate.

Before I was given the bad news, I had already narrowed the possibilities of my designs to two options.  Because each skein is only fifty grams, one is limited to a hat or a baby sweater or a neck warmer or anything that doesn’t require much yarn.  A baby blanket would have been my first design option but three skeins is really cutting it close.  So instead, I opted for a hat. 

I will freely confess that I am not much of an artist, so coming up with a beautiful design based solely on artistic ability was out of the question.  But one can also be creative in a totally haphazard manner.  The drawing-outside-of-the-lines philosophy, if you will.  My idea was to write out the instructions for different rows from different patterns on separate strips of paper, and then put about a hundred of these different instructions for different rows in a box.  I would pull out one set of instructions for my first row and I would knit as the directions stated.  The second row and all even rows would be purled.  Even total chaos demands a teaspoon of organization.  I would continue pulling out different instructions for every odd row until the hat was finished.  On a small scale I’ve actually goofed around with this concept.  Narrow scarves for about a foot or so.   Here is a hypothesis I’ve developed from doing this random knitting technique:  Ninety one times out of a hundred the finished project will look like garbage.  Actually, even worse than garbage.  Eight times out of a hundred you will look at the project and say, “Hmm.  Now that’s kind of interesting.”  And one time out of a hundred you will have a masterpiece in your hands.  I mean an absolute masterpiece.  There will be beauty and harmony and cohesion and balance and all that other good stuff artists aim for.  This approach is risky, however.  I believe that there is a late July  deadline for having the contest entry in the store.  With this random approach to art, the 100 to 1 longshot masterpiece might occur early or it might occur late or it might occur not at all.  One of those high risk-high reward type of deals.

My other option is a sure winner but I’m still ironing out some of the kinks in it.  Engineering kinks, if you will.  The knitting aspect is not too hard.  A profile of Pinocchio done in garter stitch over a stockinette background.  Here’s what happens when one wears this hat.  Like I said, it has the standard Disney Pinocchio in profile and with his normal nose.  When one wears the hat and one tells a lie, right before your very eyes, the nose on the hat will grow.  If the lie is a real whopper, the nose will extend around the entire hat.  How is this done?  Well, on the advice of a patent lawyer, that is something I cannot share.  As soon as I perfect the mechanics of the whole thing, I will be mass producing these hats and all politicians will be obligated to wear one whenever he or she makes a public appearance.  Right now, when the hat wearer tells a lie, the nose grows, but it grows in a most crooked manner.  I just have to figure out how to get that nose to follow a straight line.  I’ll tell you one thing, though.  My Pinocchio hat would have won the contest.  Guaranteed.  But since I am not being allowed to enter, then that means that anyone, maybe even you, can win this contest.

Creativity abounds in all of us.  I urge all of you to flex your creative muscles and come up with something both bold and beautiful.  I realize the term “original design” might scare some of you, but consider this: There are no more original stitches or combination of stitches left to be discovered.  An original design is merely a person’s unique way of combining and arranging already established stitches or small repetitive patterns.  Throw in the concept of color and the possibilities are endless.  It’s like being a songwriter.  Every composer uses the same notes.  They just use them in different orders.  I look forward to casting my vote for the best finished product.                   


  1. Hi Fred:
    You can just can't win.
    Love your blog!
    Jeanne Z - now living in Minnesota