As it turns out, I AM able to finish a project! Who would have thought!? But of course, crafty stars don't always align and sometimes they fall. And damned if they don't fall hard.
I've never made a shawl before. Never really thought I'd want one. But when my crafty-bestie suggested we dye yarn together, and do a crochet-a-long, I was totally on board. Shawls are quick, easy, and don't need a lot of yarn, so it would be something I knew could complete. I even finished before she did and she crochets like a machine! Shout out to Atomic Flamingos on IG. I wish I could be as cool as her. :)
She picked out the pattern, and I was in love. It's a gorgeous shawl. The pattern was well written and a lot of fun to work on. I'm a lazy crocheter, so I tend to pick simple, boring patterns that don't require a lot of concentration. But the Peachy Geometric Shawl by Sandra Paul had just enough difficulty to keep it interesting, but an easy enough stitch repeat to ensure it's success. I have absolutely ZERO complaints about the pattern. The pattern wasn't the problem.
The problem. As usual, is that I'm my own worst enemy. And biting off more than I can chew is almost always my downfall. I got it into my head (thanks, Atomic Flamingos) that DYING yarn was so easy, anyone could do it. And in a way, it is. I had a blast dying up 4 skeins of yarn using colors I love, but what I didn't take into consideration is that when learning a new skill, you aren't always promised amazing results. Just like the professionals, there's a bit of a learning curve you've got to overcome. Everyone knows that practice makes perfect. If you don't have enough bare yarn to practice several different techniques and color combinations, then don't expect your completed project to look professional. Because it wont. (Unless you're a dying savant, like my bestie, apparently)
After dying my yarn I was thrilled. It was gorgeous. I loved everything about it. I loved the rich colors professional acid dyes produced. I loved the interesting color blends. I was so proud!
What could possibly go wrong? Right? Well, according to Murphy and his law, apparently everything can go wrong and if it can, it most assuredly will.
It all started to go downhill when I mistakenly assumed that, because all of the various shades of colors came from the same dye, then they would definitely work well together. This is false. And while each skein would have worked up beautifully on it's own, they didn't necessarily play well together. I couldn't quite perceive the disaster looming on the horizon, because in the beginning, it looked really nice.
After reaching the half-way point, however, I realized that I might have a problem. It was soon brought to my attention by my dying savant friend that I was working with spring AND fall colors. By now, however, I'd gone too far to rip it out. I know myself too well. I would have frogged the whole thing, shelved it, and never returned. So I made the unfortunate decision to forge ahead. It just got worse and worse. And soon it became an embarrassment.
When things really got bad
I can fix this. I can make it better. I can salvage this disaster. I thought about it for days. But sometimes things are better off with a silent burial and quiet mourning. I really wish life had an undo button, because what I did next was probably the most idiotic thing I've ever done.
My genius plan was to go back in and dye the offending "spring time" colors to a darker shade in the hopes of adding a little continuity. It was going to be so easy. Just take a bit of dye and a paint brush and gently color in the stitches that needed to be a little darker. I then heat set the new color properly, letting it steam for about half an hour.
I thought to myself, "I'm so clever. Instagram is gonna love me". But when I unrolled my precious shawl, rinsed, and stretched it out to see what I'd done I was horrified. Mortified. It was a near death experience. My life flashed before my eyes and every craft failure there ever was bowed down to this monstrosity. Behold:
I try to be optimistic. Even though it was already very late in the evening, and I'd been awake since 3am that morning and worked all day, I didn't think for a second how my exhaustion could cloud my reasoning. I'd wondered if bleach would ruin the color of hand-dyed yarns. So I figured this would be the perfect way to test that theory. The shawl couldn't get any worse, could it? And the best possible scenario would be that all the color would fade and I could dye it a solid hue. Sounds reasonable, right?
Well, let this be your official PSA. Bleach has no affect on the color of your hand-dyed yarn. Or at least it didn't in this situation. However, WASHING MACHINES are your worst enemy. Especially when you're tired, and not thinking clearly.
I KNEW that felting would happen. But I did it anyway because I was optimistic. I hoped that the crafting gods would look down on me with pity. I expected to open the washer and find a perfectly bleached white, beautiful shawl.
What I didn't realize though was that in my haste, I'd chosen the absolute worst possible machine setting for washing wool. Super hot, with brute force agitation. When I pulled the shawl from the washer I was gifted a hard, thick, exponentially shorter version of the soft, stretchy fabric I'd put in.
I'm not exaggerating when I tell you I went through all five stages of grief.
What happened next
After my initial sorrow, I threw the shawl on the floor. (stomped on it a few times) and went to bed. I didn't even let it dry out. Just left a soggy heap of depression lying on the floor.
I didn't move it the next morning either.
When I came home from work that day there was a cat sitting on it. Hours later, the cat was still there. Over a week later and the shawl is still exactly where I left it and a cat is usually sitting on it as well.
I have since made peace with the disaster shawl. In fact, I no longer view it as a disappointment. The craft gods work in mysterious ways, and what was once a shawl is now a properly felted cat pad. That is what it was always meant to be. Even if it is still ugly.