Saturday, June 16, 2007

Progress on the Pirate Scarf and thoughts on knitting exchanges

I'm getting quite blown away by the effects of this illusion knitting - my photography really doesn't do it justice. From one angle it looks like a regular striped scarf and from another, all theses skulls and crossbones just appear. I'm about 40% of the way through this scarf - gaining speed as I gain confidence that it is going to work as long as I follow the pattern, and as I internalise the logic of illusion knitting (ie: understand in my head why it works).

It'll probably be a birthday present for my brother.

My ISE4 scarf partner has emailed me to let me know my scarf is in the mail. I'm really looking forward to this. We maintained anonymity for all of about 3 seconds after she accidentally sent her first email with links to her blogs on it (oops - LOL!) but that was fine. In many ways it was good because I felt confident that I was dealing with a real person and I could see her regularly posting on her blog. I didn't go into a meltdown worrying I was one of those people whose partners had disappeared off the face of the earth.

This has been my first such exchange; I'm not sure whether I'll do another one. The plus side was meeting new knitters and new knitting blogs and being part of a group project and extending myself and having a good excuse to purchase and knit with some yummy yarn. That's a LOT of plus side.

The not-so-much minus but less-plus side of the exchange was watching the level of "keeping up with/outdoing the Jones" that seemed to be happening. I tried not to be intimidated by the more complex lace patterned scarfs and shawls that other knitters were making. They were more experienced, I was doing something nice that was challenging for me (breathe Marg... remember to breathe).

Then the photos of packages sent and received started appearing.

I signed up knowing that I would have to spend about $25-$30 on yarn and probably $15-$20 on international postage. It soon became clear that a lot more than just scarfs were being sent. Stitch markers, needles, knitting magazines, skeins of expensive yarn, coffee, chocolate, scented soaps and sometimes a extra knitted items were being included. What the...? Would I be seen as cheap if I ONLY sent a scarf made out of nice yarn?

It wasn't only the cost of purchasing the additional items, but the impact the weight of each item has on the price of posting overseas. Books and magazines are a real killer but I ended up picking up a lightweight soft toy koala, some stickers and a few chocolates to chuck in with my scarf. I wasn't going to get into the one-upmanship competition but I didn't want my pal to feel completely short-changed. (For the record, I'm fairly certain she was quite happy with her extra warm scarf and goodies.)

I don't want any of this to be seen as a criticism of the wonderful people who voluntarily organise such exchanges. The ISE4 organisers have tried to address this issue in their rules:

Many exchangers add fun goodies, local treats and other tidbits to their parcel. Please remember that this is not a requirement. It is lovely of course and very generous but it is above and beyond the requirements. Please do not feel obliged to do this and conversely please do not be disappointed if your pal sends only the scarf she has carefully made.

But human nature being what it is, there is always a tendency for some people to go completely over-the-top, which leaves some other people feeling inadequate. And of course there is the converse problem; those people who try to get away with as little as possible; who never send a scarf despite receiving one themselves or who use cheap and shoddy materials and don't bother to correct their knitting mistakes.

I'm not sure what the answer is. There is no doubt that the knitting exchanges are a great way to make contact with other knitters and the ISE 4 seems to be particularly well organised. Maybe I should just refrain from worrying about the Jones on the website if I join again next year.

1 comment:

Beth said...

The package you sent was perfectly fine. I loved everything! And honestly, the package I sent (which should arrive next week, maybe) is very similar. And frankly, if it had been one of those over the top sorts, I'd have felt guilty about how much to send my pal - I can't afford to do all that outlandish stuff.

The pirate scarf looks great! I'm trying to decide about fringe for mine. It's blocked and dry and needs a photo shoot. :)