Sunday, March 26, 2017

Confidence, Arrogance, and a Sweater

Do not let arrogance go to your head and despair to your heart; do not let compliments go to your head and criticisms to your heart; do not let success go to your head and failure to your heart.― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
I had a strange realization the other that I've been at this knitting thing for a while now. I had a Facebook memory pop up for me from eight years ago, and well... it was a photo of one of my first handknit sweaters. Eight years??? Haven't I only been at this for two or three? Am I not still a newbie? Granted, I learned to crochet when I was a little girl... we won't talk about how long ago that was. Still, it was a shock.

As an aside: I never quite understood why the gods of Facebook decided that the "memory" feature wasn't immediately available to all users. I was sorta jealous when I saw I didn't have that feature before, but now that I have it, it's not all that great. So far, I've been getting a lot of photos of my Rascal, and that just makes me feel so sad and lonely. I miss my little doggie boy so, so much. I don't like to talk about it that often, but it hurts as much now as it did when I first lost him.

Sigh. Memories are double-edged, I guess.

I finally finished my latest sweater project late last Sunday. I was sailing along with it on Saturday night, perfectly confident that I would be finished and have it in the water for blocking before I went to bed, except... well, you know... sometimes confidence is just arrogance in disguise.

This sweater is based on a Red Heart pattern by Lorna Miser called Big Comfy Sweater, which is probably the best name for a sweater pattern you could ever have. It actually was brought to my attention by someone who visited my YouTube channel to watch one of my help videos and who messaged me with some questions. I decided right then and there that I would make it, but with some modifications (because, of course, Adriene is not knitting if she is not modifying the pattern).

I decided to knit it at a tighter gauge, because I wasn't sure such a long sweater would hold up so well with the looser gauge suggested in the pattern. I also talked it over my with my friend Linette, and decided that the ribbing on the upper half of the sweater should start above my bust to be more flattering (more "what a nice sweater", instead of "hey, have you seen these boobs?"). The pattern is written for knitting the sweater in two pieces, front and back, and then it is seamed along the sides and shoulders. I decided I'd knit the ribbing at the bottom in two pieces, and then join them to knit the body of the sweater in the round.

The original pattern didn't add any waist shaping, but I got nervous as I worked on it that it was going to turn out to be a big, unflattering, unwearable sack. I kept on, though, and when I reached the armpits, I stuck a ruler along my arm and arbitrarily chose a length I thought would work. I worked out how many stitches I'd need and cast on accordingly, using a crochet provisional stitch (sorry, I didn't take any photos of that) so that I could knit to the top of each shoulder and then pick out the crochet holder and pick up the live stitches for the other side of each sleeve. The big finish was to do a three-needle bind off, effectively eliminating any need for seaming throughout the whole project. Clever me.

What do they say about "best laid plans?"

It all went upside-down when I decided that I didn't want boxy sleeves on my already-boxy sweater. I lay in bed one night and worked out how to taper each sleeve by working short rows that would make the sleeves more fitted. And it was a good idea... until I decided I'd ignore all the rules about how to knit short rows properly. You're supposed to wrap the stitches in such a manner that it would prevent holes, but all that malarkey always throws my stitch count out, so in my great wisdom, I decided that I, the great Adriene, would not be afflicted with holes my knitting as other mere mortals are.

Yeah... about that...

It was all looking great until I was ready to join the shoulders with the three-needle bind off. I started working my way across, but each time I reached the end of one of the short rows, I would knit the bind off and, wouldn't ya know it. A hole. Big ones.

I made this face:

Then, I sat back and did some thinking. I tried fiddling with the short rows, but that was just making everything worse. In the end, I sighed, pulled out my darning needles, and started seaming the shoulders using a Kitchener stitch. So much for avoiding the seams.

I still had to mess about with the short rows to try to hide the gaps. I think I did a pretty ok job, and other people will probably not even notice. Perhaps after I wear it for a while, I won't notice either.

Who am I kidding? I notice all the mistakes in my knitting.

But, once I finished it all up and tried it on, I was amazed. The shapeless, boxy sweater was lovely: very comfortable, and quite flattering. This tells me that, either I am actually box-shaped, or perhaps I don't need to try so hard to add shaping to my sweaters. Or maybe both.

I bought the yarn so long ago that I can't even remember what the fibre content is. I THINK it's merino (but it's a good chance it's Blue Faced Leicester). And I THINK it's superwash (but I'm not taking any chances). Whatever it is, it is SUPER DUPER soft and squishy and comfortable, not in the least bit itchy against my bare skin. Geez.... now I really wish I knew what it was, because then I'd get a few more skeins...

... because, of course I need more yarn:

It's a little bit rumpled in the photo above, because I'd broken my rule about wearing new knits prior to photographing them. I'd just come back from the supermarket when I decided to pop upstairs to get a few shots. It is, incidentally, a pretty good sweater to wear for shopping.

I am very happy with how the back turned out:

And the seams at the shoulders aren't really all that noticeable:

I suppose that part of the reason it is so flattering is that the ribbing at the bottom made a sort of natural flare at the bottom after I blocked it. I kept going over and giving the ribbing a stretch every so often as it dried to keep it from clinging to my hips:

The whole sweater took just under six skeins, which I think had roughly 240 yards in each skein. I still have four full skeins left, which means I get to have another go with making something with this lovely yarn.

The weather is turning for the better these days: rainy days here and there, interspersed by lovely, bright, sunny ones. I wore this sweater out for a walk yesterday with a shawl to keep the wind off my arms. I was perfectly comfortable.

These days, my thoughts are turning towards springtime knits: lacy cardigans and cotton tops. I decided that I'd finally try my hand at making Veronik Avery's Millay Jacket, which I have been admiring for a while now. And of course, I'm modifying it, because I don't have enough yarn for the original pattern, and I don't like the front, and I think I'm getting a larger gauge with my yarn and needles... does any of this sound familiar? I spent a few days just sitting and sketching and calculating. I think I've got a good handle on it now. After all, what could go wrong?

Heh, confidence or arrogance? I guess we'll find out. Happy Sunday!


Marsha said...

That sweater looks great on you. Congratulations on a well-done knit!

AdrieneJ said...

Thank you! I am very happy with it!