Monday, August 15, 2005

I do it to myself

My thoughts were wandering today while I was working on the Stornaway sweater for DH's brother. I was thinking, my poor DH, by this Christmas (or so my plan goes), his two brothers will have each received a handknitted sweater, and his mom two sweaters and a vest, and all he's gotten from me are two pairs of socks. He is seriously bereft of my knitted love.

And then, it all came back to me, with dazzling clarity.

I had knitted him a sweater. Several years ago. I had begun my journey down the slippery slope to knitting obsession and had a fair number of knitted baby items under my belt. I decided, as a Christmas present, to express my love in yarn for my darling man and sometime in the fall (yeah, I gave myself about three months to knit a man's sweater) I bought a bunch of 100% acrylic (don't judge me, I was a novice) and began to do Nancy Salcedo's Man's Lattice Sweater pattern. It lured me with the word 'medium' in the size heading. I didn't even bother to check how the finished measurements actually stacked up against the man I was knitting it for. No swatch was made, I just assumed I would be getting gauge because the pattern called for worsted weight and I had bought worsted weight. I also guessed at how much yarn I would need.

In short, I misjudged just about everything there was to misjudge: the time I had to knit the sweater, the amount of yarn, the gauge, the size, everything. If memory serves (and it might not, because I think the trauma centre of my brain has been working very hard to block it all out ever since), I finished it extremely late on Christmas Eve. It was my introduction to panic knitting. DH was absolutely no help at all, either. I had been counting on him leaving the house to do his Christmas shopping (the only reason he gets all his Christmas gifts for family bought in time these days is because I now do most of his shopping for him - the man's ability to leave Christmas to the last moment is legendary). When he was gone, I would be able to finish it all up. But HE WOULD NOT LEAVE. He kept putting it off. I distinctly remember screaming at him to get his ass out of the house so I could finish making his present so it could be a f**king surprise, thank you very much (thus completely blowing, as you have no doubt guessed, the surprise). Oh, and also, with the second sleeve only partially completed, I ran out of yarn. I went back and bought one or two 50g balls in the same colour - but with a slightly smaller gauge. Oh, the humanity.

Needless to say, the thing was a rather large disaster. And I mean 'rather large' in a completely literal sense. My guy is about 5'7" with a medium build. The sweater has a chest circumference of 62" and the sleeves, when the sweater lies flat, are over six feet long, cuff-to-cuff. (Yeah. I got nothing even remotely close to gauge.) The poor man adores the sweater (bless him) but has absolutely no reason to wear it as it comes down to about his knees, pools ridiculously around his body, and completely hides his hands.

All. My. Fault. However, in retrospect I guess we can call it a learning experience.

full view (and the only way I could fit it all into the camera's viewfinder was to stand on the bed and hold the camera up to the ceiling)

rumpled view

Self-designed baby blanket for unknown
I realised this weekend that I've been forgetting to mention this new (yes, another one, don't hate me because I'm stupid) project in the past...week? Two weeks? Something like that.

It occurred to me that baby blankets really are just about the smartest thing for me to design if I want to publish something sooner rather than later. A baby blanket is big enough that, if you want, you can really go to town and incorporate a clever pattern. But it's also small enough that it's not going to take you forever to knit a sample to photograph for publication. Another huge plus is that the structure is super-simple - a rectangle. You don't need to mess around with shaping, or test-drive how something is going to work in three dimensions. You don't even have to have tremendously accurate gauge. And best of all, instructions for a blanket only need to be written in one size.

Add in the fact that a baby can never truly have too many blankets, and you have a stand-out winner of a pattern idea. So...what the heck, thought I, why don't I design a baby blanket in between doing patterns for my book, and see if anyone will publish it?

No, there is no impending baby which needs this blanket.

No, I have not suddenly finished a whole bunch of my current projects to be able to have the time to actually work on this.

No, there isn't really any force in the universe that can stop me when I get it into my head that I really want to do something. (Especially logic. Logic is particularly useless in this regard.)

The blanket will contain a repeating lace motif, which I am currently testing to see if it will look nice. So far, so good. However, snags I have encountered include: a) I'm not sure what kind of a pattern I want to do for the edging, and b) I've been keeping my test knitting on our kitchen table, and this morning I inadvertently upended an empty bowl of Cheerios - containing an entirely unexpected amount of Cheerios 'dust' - all over the damn thing.

But other than that, I have great hopes.

Lacy shawl for baby Muth
I've transferred the work onto my longest 4mm circular, which means I am better able to see how the pattern is coming along. Let us say that I am both pleased and displeased. The pattern idea certainly is working, but on the other hand, my lacework is wonky enough that I am relying very heavily on that knitting thing which says that the true magic of lace is in the blocking. (Please, oh please.)

Oh, also, The Schedule says that I'm supposed to finish this week.

Go on, feel free to laugh. It's certainly the funniest thing I've heard in a while.

Stornaway sweater for BIL (blue)
I am very pleased. My goal for the week is to finish knitting the front. Since the neck shaping begins when the front measures 18cm from the armscyes, and I am already done 4cm so far, and Monday isn't even over yet, I'm feeling pretty good. It may even be photo-worthy tomorrow.

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