Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Saga of the Boxy Lady Sweater

C'est fini!

I've been inspired by a friend who takes advantage of the more leisurely months of summer as a time to finish her UFOs = UnFinished (knitting) Objects.

UFOs are items not yet completed (more often, abandoned) from the previous year of knitting. More often than not, UFOs are often responsible for Knitter's Guilt.
(Another major source of Knitter's Guilt is Knitter's Yarn Stash)

Like my friend, I too have a stash of UFOs looming like a dark cloud over my knit conscience. This summer, I too planned to complete a few, if not all, of them.

Smaller, less complicated to finish UFOs came out of the back of the art n' craft closet first. A little tote bag and a couple of felted pincushions. HaHa. Done.
Super gratifying.

Next: the (dreaded) UFO sweaters.
Pictured above is the easier of the two UFO sweaters (yes, I will probably bore you with the second nightmarish one in a future post). I started this one ...gosh, who can remember how long ago. It's been 3 or 4, maybe even 5 years since casting on?
Not bad. Not good either.


At the very start of this project, I was heady with anticipation of a homey hand knit-by- me sweater as the end result of much labor - which, for me - always seems to include blood, sweat and (this might be my trademark in the creative process...) tears.

The ingredients were assembled: well-spun wool yarn (in a deep wine color, tweedy and heathery with black throughout), a simple classic pullover sweater pattern, high quality knitting needles.

My knit mojo was fired up and raring to go.

I blissfully knitted through the first section of the sweater - confident of a quick n' easy start to finish project. HaHa. That should have been my first clue: being overly confident at the get go. It's never that easy, is it?

No sooner was the first section near completion when the otherwise straightforward pattern instructions turned on me by introducing something called 'short rows'.

A brand new knit term for me.
I eagerly set down to learn this technique.

Struggling with the directions on how to knit short rows, it wasn't long before I realized that I just couldn't manage it.
'Hide the wrap'?!?? Where?!? The whole short row thing frustrated me more than any other knitting obstacle ever had. I asked fellow knitters. They tried to show me. I couldn't get it. It simply can't be done.
At least not right now and not by me.

Oh well.
Try try try again later. In time, the whole short row thing will come to me...won't it?

Rather than stop knitting the sweater altogether, I cast on for the other front and two back pieces and knitted them all up to the point before having to make those short rows. I then committed cardinal knitter's sin #211: I lost interest. Abandoned the project. Bid it good riddance with a hey nonny nonny.

I brown-paper-bagged it, along with an exclamation of 'to hell with short rows!'

On to new knitting ventures!

Then the inevitable.
UFO / Knitter's Guilt caught up with me.
Some months ago, I finally got my head wrapped around the concept of short rows (it really isn't that hard)(It's all about timing when it comes to learning some things). Since I'd made a commitment to 'finish the UFOs during the summer', I boldly rescued aforementioned UFO sweater from the black hole of abandoned projects.


Typically, I have no idea where I left off on any UFO. In addition, I've forgotten the 'rhythm' of that particular knit project. Every handicraft has its own pace, flavor and beat. You get into the rhythm and move through it. It's 'being in the zone'.
Those breaks in the momentum are tough to reconcile when one goes back to a long forgotten UFO.

Tip: It behooves all knitters to jot down comments right on the instruction pattern as to 'this is where I left off' and 'needs 1" more here', etc.. These are reminders to oneself so that going back to an abandoned UFO isn't quite so daunting.

OK, get back into the groove. Make a sweater happen out of this mess.

Next challenge: trying to determine if this sweater was going to fit me after all.
Uh-Oh. I'd almost forgotten that this thing not fitting me was a good, to very good - possibility.

Each individual sweater section I'd knitted thus far seemed destined to remain curled and furled (stockinette stitch tends to roll in at the edges). Getting all four pieces to lie flat so I could determine size/fit was quite the unwieldy task. Worst of all, the whole sweater was looking - kinda small.
Granted, I was smaller when this sweater was begun, but I also neglected to knit a swatch, so don't know if I was knitting it smaller or larger than the correct gauge (cardinal knitter's sin #1)

Unwilling to admit defeat just yet, I knitted on (yep, those short rows). So far, so good. Next, I boldly (quite brazenly and with wild abandon) sewed the pieces together (with yarn).

After sides, fronts and underarms were seamed and all loose ends woven in, the pullover was looking pretty gnarly.

It was finished, but unblocked. (blocking a sweater makes all the difference between OMG it's so ugly > to > Hey! Not bad! It even looks like a sweater now!

I tried it on.
It fit poorly.
It looked BAD (not as in good bad, but bad bad).

Not to be undone, I blocked it. Pretty aggressively. The submerge-fully-in-water-and-squeeze-out method.

Oh goody.
After blocking, the sweater looked considerably better.
Whilst laying flat on the drying towel, it looked downright GREAT.

After it dried, I tried it on again.
It still fit me poorly.

The shape of the sweater is boxy like the pattern is designed to be.
Why did I not remember that 'boxy' doesn't suit me?
Is it because the woman modeling the sweater in the knit magazine was slim, thin and
long-waisted (and in her early 20's)?
I'm not slim, thin or long-waisted (nor am I in my early 20's).
What was I thinkin' ?!?

Foiled again.



On to new knitting ventures!


Lauren said...

but it looks so beautiful! of the handful of sweaters i've knitted, there is only 1 that i wear regularly... so i feel your pain. congratulations on completing it though- onto the next project!!

justducky said...

Having rarely finished a knitting project, I find myself wondering...what does one do w. a finished project that doesn't fit?

My finally finished projects always fit cuz I only knit rectangles!