Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How To Knit a Sweater, Part Two

Part One
  1. Plan to knit the front before the back, since that would make it possible to hold the front up to my body as I'm working so that I don't make it too long.
  2. Check the pattern and discover the the instructions start with the back and the instructions for the front say "just like the back, except..."
  3. Give in and decide to knit the back first.
  4. Cast on.
  5. Knit, knit, knit.
  6. Discover I made a mistake in the lace/traveling stitch pattern several rows below where I am now.
  7. On the entire row.
  8. It'll be across my lower back, in the tramp stamp zone. No one will see.
  9. Unless I wear the sweater in a crowd and there's a little kid stuck behind me.
  10. In which case, the kid will have bigger problems than errors in my knitting.
  11. Knit, knit, knit.
  12. Do waist decreases.
  13. Actually count stitches. Refrain from celebrating when the stitch count is correct, lest I anger the knitting gods.
  14. Do the after-waist increases.
  15. Did I miss an increase there?
  16. Eh, maybe.
  17. Count the stitches. I did miss exactly one increase.
  18. Throw in an extra increase since one stitch either way won't make a difference and having the right stitch count will make the coming armhole shaping easier.
  19. Knit, knit, knit
  20. Discover that I didn't cross those two stitches in one spot.
  21. How would I fix that? (Realize the next morning that the fix would've been embarrassingly easy to fix at the moment I noticed and a hassle to fix now, several rows later.) (Realize later that day that a copy of Knit Fix, a book all about fixing different knitting errors was 2 feet away from me when I made the mistake.)
  22. Eh, screw it. It's at my upper back. No one will be looking that closely
  23. Join a new ball of yarn.
  24. Wait, if this the 3rd or 4th ball of yarn I'm using to knit the back?
  25. I only have 4 balls left after this.
  26. I used up a whole ball of yarn knitting swatches, so ordinarily, I'd just use that yarn if I run short. But they shrank when I washed them, so damaged yarn is not what I want to be using at the top of the front of my sweater, around my face.
  27. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.
  28. Well, there's at least one undamaged swatch I could reclaim yarn from.
  29. And if need another ball and I can't get it in the same dye lot, hopefully, I'll just need it for the neck back, which I could make in a contrasting color, which would look totally intentional.
  30. Now I'll have to knit faster so I can find out if I'm going to run out sooner.
  31. Or I could just weigh the back on my kitchen scale when I finish it and use that to judge how much yarn I still need.
  32. Dumbass. How many decades do I have to knit before the reasonable solution is also my first thought?
  33. Finish the back.
  34. Weigh the back.
  35. Panic.
  36. Realize I have enough yarn for the front.
  37. Consider knitting the deeper v-neck option, thus using less yarn.
  38. Reject this option because the directions are slightly more complicated.
  39. Put entire project aside to knit a massive blanket as a wedding gift for cousin. 
  40. Misplace fifteen pounds. Seriously. Did not even notice I'd lost weight until a friend asked, even though my clothes were hanging off of me, so much is the stress in my life.
  41. Contemplate what the weight loss means to the sweater. It will now be too big.
  42. Decide to go forward with it anyway - the weight may return, or the sweater may look fine in a slightly baggier version. Or it could bloom into hugeness during blocking requiring unraveling the whole thing. At this point, the only way to find it is by moving forward.
  43. Keep meaning to get back to that sweater.
  44. Discover that you knitted the first swatch for the sweater exactly one year earlier.
  45. Die a little from embarrassment.
  46. Neglect to pick up the sweater until the one year anniversary of casting on the actual sweater has passed.
  47. Finally resume the project at the start of a night of heavy-TV watching lest the Tivo get so full it explodes. 
  48. Die of embarrassment at the fact that the sweater was not stuffed into a closet, but was on the floor next to the couch the whole time, where you could see it. And yet I let it sit for I don't even want to know how long.
  49. Knit, knit, knit, knit, knit.
  50. Read the pattern instructions for the neckline.
  51. Get confused and think that the pattern is saying to start the armhole decreases on the front an inch later than on the back.
  52. Check the internet for pattern corrections, finding none.
  53. Re-read pattern directions several times until you understand what they were actually saying (start the armhole decreases in the same place as on the back, then a little later, start the neckline decreases, not forgetting to continue to the armhole decreases like a total rookie).
  54. Yay! It's almost time for the armhole decreases.
  55. Which is good because I've only got one ball of yarn left, so I really need to get to the end soon. If I run out of yarn, there's no way the company is going to have any more in the same dye lot after all this time (different dye lots might as well be completely different colors). Maybe I can do a color blocking thing on one shoulder. Maybe?
  56. Hold the front up to the back and notice that the front looks a little longer. Great! Maybe I went half an inch too far. More yarn!
  57. Spread the back and front of the sweater out on a table, matching up important spots and discover that I did the waist shaping increases differently on the front than on the back.  And yeah, I shoulda started the armhole decreases half an inch ago.
  58. But yeah, those increases aren't matching up at all and the finished sweater might fit funny because of it.
  59. Rip back 6 inches of knitting, at one point getting confused about how to wind up the unraveled yarn, going so far as to completely forget how to knit for a few moments.
  60. Realize that this is one of those moments that turns knitters into ex-knitters. But goddammit, this is merino yarn. Soft as butter. I'll be damned if I quit before getting my first merino sweater.
  61. Put live stitches back on the needles while stooping over table and calling any stitch that doesn't cooperate a "son of a motherless goat."
  62. Recommence knitting.
  63. Knit the left front side of the neckline and end up with less stitches than expected. Decide that to fudge the difference when sewing up the shoulders. What's a few stitches among friends? Especially as long as the right front side ends up the same.
  64. Knit the right front side and end up with more stitches than expected. Start to wonder if you split the neckline at the exact center or a little to one side.
  65. Resolve to clip the front and back together with clothespins before sewing up to make sure that the v-neck is reasonably centered. 
  66. Regret not screwing up more so that the neckline could look deliberately asymetrical.
  67. Finish knitting the front without running out of yarn. Perform #65 and decide that it looks fine. A little big, but it'll do. It's merino. It feels like butter. A slightly large, comfy sweater will be great. Well, adequate.
  68. Sew up sweater, and knit neckband. 
  69. Weave in ends, more meticulously than I ever have before. This is partially because I know better and partially because of my deep conviction that I will not be unraveling and reknitting this sweater.
  70. Send the sweater through the washing machine, laying flat to dry (aka, blocking).
  71. Leave it there for two weeks.
  72. Notice that it looks bigger than it did before washing, but tell myself that it's because it's laying flat.
  73. Try it on and discover that it is, in fact, larger. The motherfucking yarn bloomed in the wash. The sweater is now ridiculously too big. This could've been avoided by washing all the yarn before starting except who the fuck does that? (Well, me from now on.) And none of the swatches bloomed in the wash, so there really was no way for me to expect this.
  74. Decide to put the sweater in the dryer to see if it will shrink like the swatches did, thereby returning to a normal-ish size. 
  75. Behold ruined sweater, berating self for making such a rookie mistake. The sweater is indeed a bit smaller than it was, but it's still too big and misshapen. And the merino is no longer as soft as butter. And it may not be possible to unravel the yarn anymore. So even if I turn the whole thing into a throw pillow, it won't be soft and will therefore taunt me for making such a noobie error.
  76. Feel so incompetent that I discuss the sweater with my shrink.
  77. Wish I had local knitting friends so I could throw a proper funeral for the sweater.
  78. Fantasize about showing off the perfectly set-in sleeves before getting drunk and taking the thing apart with friends.
  79. Longingly look at pictures of myself wearing the sweater after it bloomed, but before it shrank. It was so much less ruined then.
  80. Resolve to throw it in the closet and put it in time out as soon as I can bring myself to touch it again.


  1. I knit and feel your pain.

    If you know how to knit in the round and can face trying a sweater again, you might want to consider reading Knitting without Tears and see if a sweater in the round would make you happy.

    Might not, of course, but I find it easier to knit them that way than flat.

  2. Oh, this is my 6th or 7th sweater. I have that book and have managed to screw up sweaters knit in the round too.

    I'll need some time to recover before I try another sweater. But there will be another.

  3. My method:

    1. Go to store and buy sweater that is reasonably close to what you pictured in your head.
    2. Since you're out already, get a smoothie. Something with fruit.

    Money differential spent: negligible
    Sanity saved: oodles

  4. Karl, come over here so I may continue poking a hole in your chest. Before the knitters come after you with sharp knitting needles.

  5. I'm really just impressed that you knit well enough to follow a pattern. I am the queen of all things square or rectangular over here. scarves? yes. potholders? I got you covered.


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