Educational Mistakes

At a job I once had, my boss would sometimes spend a huge amount of money and time on a vendor or a project that (usually foreseeably) didn’t work out, then shrug it off, “Well that was an expensive lesson.”

One might think I’d have learned sweater hubris by now, that I’d take the time to check gauge or try it on to check fit early on in the process…



And one would be wrong.

At first glance, this might appear to be a finished sweater (apart from the unfinished grafting under the arms) and technically, it fits. I waited until I had finished the neckline and cast off to try it on for the first time, expecting a roomy, almost boxy feel, and instead it is quite fitted, to the point of being body-hugging. At certain angles with careful layering and maybe if I were a little happier with my figure at present, it could work, but I wanted a cozy, smooshy, decadently textured and cabled sweater, not something clingy and short that can only be worn with Spandex underneath.




The little holes from careless neckline pick-ups block out, right??

My gauge, once I finally checked it, was way off, something like 5 stitches/inch instead of 3.8, which makes perfect sense, as this sweater is about 25% smaller than I expected it would be. I briefly tried to convince myself it would stretch a lot in blocking and end up at the expected dimensions, which it might, but since I have more than 5 balls of yarn leftover and this wasn’t exactly a quick project, there is no reason to compromise.




No, raglan decrease gaps don’t bother me at alllll…..

The closer I scrutinized it, the more flaws I started to find as well. I wasn’t happy with the gaps introduced by careless pick-ups for the neckline, but I was willing to sew them shut by weaving in some reinforcing threads. Ditto for the gaps made by raglan decreases along the shoulders, which probably wouldn’t have been so visible if the shoulders weren’t stretched as much. And weird decreases on the sleeves are just par for the course, right?




I mean, no one ever looks at sleeves, do they?? Sigh…

I know I would not be happy with this sweater as it is. I am a better knitter than this, and I care about these details too much to let them slide. The time I spent pretending I didn’t care or that, “It’ll all block out!” was “expensive” in knitting terms, but very valuable lessons. This sweater taught me how to make a seamless yoked sweater in pattern (way easier than I thought it would be). I also learned how important it is to track rows in moss stitch, after the first large frogging-and-restarting.

And now I’ve learned, for real, to actually check my gauge and not just follow the pattern blindly, hoping it’ll all work out. As this was knit with size 6 and 8 needles, I expect 8/10 will do the trick, so long as the pattern holds up. I also plan to make some adjustments with things I didn’t like, such as making a better plan for incorporating sleeve increases in moss stitch, inserting a filler stitch to absorb the raglan decreases on the sleeves, and learning how to pick up neckline stitches more neatly so I don’t end up with gaps.

This project has been like a security blanket for when I needed comfort or an escape from reality, and I mean it when I say it’s been a true pleasure to knit, so I don’t mind starting over to get something wearable with the right finishing details. Let’s hope I’ve actually learned my lessons this time.

Finish-itis??

I have long been afflicted with startitis, the condition common to knitters who enthusiastically cast on new projects left and right, but let them languish over time. I’m delighted to find the tide may be changing for me.



This weekend I worked up an inexplicable head of steam and finished the project I’d been knitting, then eyed my overflowing basket of nearly-completed projects and popped the sleeves on a sweater that had been chilling since oh, 2012 or so. I recently found a truly satisfying needle for weaving in ends, so I dug around and found several other projects that only wanted for a few minutes’ finishing.



I’ve got a bit of washing and blocking and photographing to do, but there are quite a few more finished projects on their way soon. I hope this bout of finish-itis is the first of many, or the start of a chronic trend.

A time to kill

I’ve killed before, and it came out so nicely it made me a devoted acrylic lover, but for some reason I was very anxious about killing my recently completed Mint sweater.

It’s got to be the most nerve-wracking form of blocking because it’s irreversible and so easy to accidentally leave the iron over one place too long and end up with a flattened, lifeless bit. I very dopily scorched a light-colored sweater when killing without a press cloth two years ago and still haven’t forgiven myself for it.

I had half a mind to wear this sweater to work tomorrow without washing or blocking it, but I bit the bullet and carefully steamed it. It’s sitting in the kitchen with a fan trying to hasten it fully drying and, ideally, fluffing back up into something soft and lovely.

Fingers crossed!

What’s old is new again

Back in 2010 I made a laceweight sweater that I adored. Then I wrecked it when I was trying to block it. I was so sad that I put it away for months.

When I took it back out last summer, intending to unpick the bind-off and repair the parts I’d ripped, it became a disaster. My collar became a tangled mess, and in a fit of knitterly rage, I went at it with scissors. It… wasn’t pretty.

I nicked the body of the sweater while angrily trying to cut off the collar, which necessitated reknitting the bottom several inches and ribbing. By that point, I just couldn’t look at it anymore. I relegated it to the depths of my WIP basket, periodically taking it out to admire it, but I dreaded reknitting the collar.

Finally this week, I worked up a head of steam and reknit the whole collar. Now that it’s over, I’m actually relieved that the first bind-off was so inflexible because it gave me time to rethink the length of the collar/bands.

Now I don’t want to jinx it, but the ends are woven in, it’s soaking in lavender-scented Eucalan, and I’m pretty confident that I will soon have my favorite sweater I’ve ever knit.

Then again, I’ve been here before with this sweater. Let’s hope it sticks this time!

New look, new resolve

I hope you will find the new blog design and layout cleaner and more inviting to read. I certainly feel encouraged to come over here and write more.

I’ve noticed, as I’m sure you have, a large number of year-end summary posts detailing the various accomplishments and industry of other knitters and crafters. “I should make one of those,” I thought briefly, before I was discouraged by a sorry lack of productivity to show for myself.

The funny thing is that, while I have excuses aplenty (full-time school, overwhelming personal life stuff, busying myself with NYC) it’s not that I haven’t been knitting. I actually knit quite often, but I am not finishing anything. Or if I do, I’ll leave out some tiny but super-important step, like weaving ends in a scarf or hat, or sewing buttons on a sweater.

I don’t want to do that anymore. It’s lazy and silly of me, and I’d like to finish these projects and put them to use. So the good news is, very soon I’ll have a pile of imminent FOs to show you. The bad news is, you’ll probably have to wait until 2012. But since that’s right around the corner, I’m calling it all good.

Coincident with turning over a new crafting leaf (since really, you would not believe how important crafts are to maintaining my sanity), I’m drumming up a new set of Crafting Resolutions. (You’ll note I said Crafting, not just Knitting, wink wink.)

2012 Crafting Resolutions

  • Gather together all nearly-finished projects and block, sew on buttons, weave in ends, or perform any finishing tasks to transform them to FOs.
  • Finish at least one project each month (including photographing it and posting it here).
  • Make long overdue gifts for my family: Cobblestone Pullover for my father, Cable-Down Raglan for my mother, Oiled Wool Hat and matching gloves for my brother.
  • Knit a sweater using the yarn I bought in Iceland (related: tell the internet all about my trip to Iceland).
  • Make at least one pillow from the number of pillow kits I obsessively accumulate.
  • Learn to use my sewing machine, and sew at least four projects.
  • Branch out with needlepoint, cross-stitch, crewel work, etc.
  • Do not buy any more yarn or crafting supplies until marked progress has been made on finishing some major projects.

These resolutions probably look pretty familiar to those of years past, and alas, they may be my perpetual crafting goals. This year, however, I have a plan, and I hope you will enjoy watching it unfold.