After putting Leaves of Grass in time out I picked up a swatch I’d made last fall for a sweater I just can’t make a decision on which got me to looking for my size 8 needle. I found it in my knitting basket along with a partially completed Lottie cardigan that was holding it hostage. I subscribe to the philosophy that if you’re going to make something for a new baby it’s best, if possible and reasonable, to also give a gift to the older sibling(s). I’d started this project more than a year ago as a big-sister companion gift for a new-baby sweater and left this, the larger, to languish when I decided two handknit gifts was possible but not altogether reasonable. OK, then, I thought. I guess I’ll go ahead and finish that up.
And I did! The knitting went along fine without incident, but… there always seems to be a but. Things are just not going my way lately in a death-by-a-thousand cuts sort of way. When I soaked this little sweater to wet block it it grew to gigantic proportions. With dismay I remembered that this had happened before with this pattern and Cascade 220. I threw it into the dryer which restored it to its original child-sized proportions, but fuzzed it up. It emerged looking hard worn without ever having been worn at all.
Not without it charm, but not gift-worthy. We don’t need another sweater that my child will deny and ignore, yet into her sweater drawer it goes to be denied and ignored. If it doesn’t have Minnie Mouse on it it doesn’t rate. Wait, do they make Minnie Mouse buttons? Of course they do! Silly me. But will that be enough? Worth a shot.
My friend told me that I have the most holiday cheer of anybody he knows. It was meant as a compliment (or good-natured teasing), but it made me feel misunderstood. Once October hits I get very busy. This is intentional. I do the things and I buy the things and I make the things. But to me it doesn’t feel like cheer. It feels like desperation. Not desperation to make all the things or do all the things or have a perfect holiday. It’s a coping mechanism. I keep busy while I feel like I’m heading towards a cliff I can’t see. I worry that I’ll careen off that cliff and I have to do as many things as I can before that happens. My avoidance masquerades as excitement. I let myself get lost in the trappings so I don’t have time to think about the spirit.
The confusion this creates is understandable. Look, for example, at the Christmas outfit I made this year. I’ve already talked lots about my new Christmas sweater, but I haven’t mentioned my new skirt.
Pattern: Everyday Skirt by Oliver + S
Fabric: Moda, Berry Merry, Reindeer Games Cream
Mods: No pockets! I rather miss the, but didn’t want to spend the time or fabric.
Front looks the same as the back.
Back looks the same as the front
If I was going to make a sweater-babe-style sweater I needed a skirt to go with it, after all.
It’s more a costume than an outfit. You know how faking a smile will improve your mood? This is that in clothing form. But I’ll tell you a secret: there are moments when I wonder if my friend might be right. It may be that I do have a lot of holiday cheer. I tell myself that I’m faking it but maybe it’s that I’m finally letting that cheer assert itself a little. This year maybe there’s room for all the feelings the holiday brings.
Pattern: Julgran by Andi Satterlund
Size: It’s complicated (details below)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash in Shire
I love the color. I sent screenshot of – no joke, I counted – 19 different shades of green Cascade 220 to Hubs and he helped me whittle down my choices. Why haven’t I knit more dark green sweaters, I wondered. Because I spent many a year looking for the perfect pea green is why, neglecting entirely these wonderful not pea green shades.
I don’t know whether the motif gets lost or if people are not accustomed to looking at my chest, but it was only the knitters who immediately spotted and delighted in the tree. Otherwise my sweater-centered conversations felt something like:
Me, gesticulating excitedly at chest area: Look!
Hapless victim, gazing inquisitively at bosom: ???
Hapless victim, visibly confused, clearly thinking: Um, there’s nothing worth looking at???
Me: THE CHRISTMAS TREE.
Hapless victim, relieved: Oh! How neat!
I put this sweater on pause for a bit while I pondered the sleeve situation. Turns out the problem wasn’t my short-row-wrapping, but that purling across the sleeve cap to where the short rows started made it so that the front and back of the sleeve didn’t match because I was purling across one but not the other. I dropped the yarn after picking up the sleeve cap stitches, slipped stitches to where the short rows start, and picked up the yarn there and it worked a bit better.
That half-a-purl-row probably would have been invisible if I had knit the sleeves in stockinette stitch as recommended by the pattern. Knits hide better than purls.
My row gauge was larger (longer?) than recommended. Great! I needed to add length, anyways. How convenient.
I forgot about how that would impact the sleeve depth.
Which, in retrospect was a big part of why the sleeve cap was too roomy.
I ended up with a sweater in size medium circumference (yay!), large length (yay!), and extra large sleeve depth (boo).
I knit a size small sleeve to compensate. Didn’t fix the problem entirely, but it helped, and let’s not let perfection be the enemy of the good enough.
Since I had knit the sleeves in reverse stockinette to match the sweater body I thought the funnel collar would be off. I knit 10 rows of 1×1 rib instead.
Hm, well, my holiday sweater has hit the skids a bit. I blithely knit on the first sleeve (I took the liberty to knit it in reverse stockinette to match the sweater body, the pattern calls for stockinette) last night without checking the wraps on my short rows until just before bed and lo:
I must have wrapped in the wrong direction on the back because they’re not beautifully invisible like they are on the front. Womp womp.
It’s just as well because I was afraid the sleeve would be too big for me and it is:
This style sweater is a bit of a departure for me. Not being a sweater-babe-type person I cast on a size that wouldn’t have as much negative ease as recommended so I thought this might happen. Back to the sleeves drawing board!
This time with properly wrapped short rows and a maybe 4-8 fewer stitches picked up around. Not today, though, this sweater and I need a little break from one another.
I thought I was starting a primarily sewing blog, but the thing I can’t put town this week is Julgran:
I clicked through and bought this pattern as soon as I saw Andi’s pattern release blog post. Not long after that I sent screenshots of 19 different shades of Cascade 220 to Hubs to help me whittle down the selection and then I picked what turned out to be the perfect green – Shire – from those 4. You know those studies that show that too much choice actually makes people more unsatisfied with their decisions? I’ve always known this to be true about myself. Have you ever shopped for a stroller? It’s maddening. I knew I would be unhappy with whatever I chose so I didn’t bother and we ended up with a hand-me-down that we literally strolled into the ground when the front wheel went irreparably flying off the thing 7 years later. The thing I loved best about that stroller was that I hadn’t picked it so I had no reason to ever be unhappy with its shortcomings or interpret them as me making a bad or wrong decision. It was just a stroller that was better for some things (like traversing NYC’s variable topography) and not so great for others (like fitting through the check out line at a NYC grocery store). There is no perfect stroller, but there is a lot of angst over not picking one that is.
Anyways. I love a good Christmas sweater! There may not be a perfect stroller, but damn if this isn’t pretty darn close to a perfect holiday pullover. I’m close to the ribbing. I tried it on this morning and lost a bunch of stitched (oops) so I’ll have to fix that up before hopefully finishing up the body tonight. Yay!
I spontaneously picked up the three partial balls leftover from the Daelyn, decided it was surely enough for a toddler-sized sweater, and cast on Old Growth.
I knit sleeve #1. Lots of yarn!
I knit sleeve #2. Two is always a good number of sleeves. Doubt starts to creep in.
I started on the body. Hmm, only 1 partial ball left and still several inches of the body to go + yoke + button bands. Better suck it up and order another skein. So much for stash-busting. It doesn’t help that a sweater’s worth of Rosy Green Wool’s Big Merino Hug fell into my virtual shopping cart when I placed my order. I was saving money on shipping, naturally!
Against expectation that last partial ball was enough to get to the end of the sweater body with a whole single yard to spare. I broke into the new skein – shout out to good dye consistency between lots – for the button bands. So I guess I can make a matching hat? Yay? I sort of resent when trying to use up yarn creates more knitting.
I may have spent more hours working on this cardigan than it will be worn. By “may” I mean to say “almost certainly”. I harbor no resentment.
Pattern: Saffran Cardigan by docksjö design
Size: 3 months
Yarns: Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Mill Worsted in Chocolate Milk & Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash in Lavendar
Every knitter has had the experience of making mistakes that could have been avoided had she read the pattern in full ahead of time. In this case I didn’t make a mistake, exactly. I misunderstood the scope of the project.
I’m not a stranger to colorwork or steeking. I know all the extra steps entailed and the stamina required to complete them when a knitter’s brain, after the knitting is complete, is screaming “Done!”. I was ready for that.
This pattern completely blindsided me, however. I finished the knitting and, like the experienced, conscientious, and dedicated knitter I am, put this project in time out for a few months while not dealing with the next set of instructions.
See that? THIS TINY BABY SWEATER IS FULLY LINED. I know, right? What?!
I didn’t have to do it. I could have sewn the button band steek selvages with ribbon. But the pattern writer made a compelling point about baby fingers getting caught in yarn floats and I had visions of the baby’s mother cursing as she tried and failed to get intractable little hands down these tubes of finger-twisting-peril delicately patterned sleeves. Besides, sometimes once you’re already deep into a project it only makes sense to keep going deeper, however “irrational” that logic may be.
On the one hand, go me! I persevered! I did something I’d never gone before! On the other hand, while the lining may protect sweater and baby fingers from one another it also adds a lot of bulk and removes one of the best properties of the knitted baby sweater – its stretchiness and ease of fit. I didn’t make a sweater. I made a jacket.
And that’s OK. I don’t rue the time invested. I’m not sure the jacket itself is worth it, but I am sure that the recipient and her mama are.