Let’s talk about that project. That half-finished, half-loved-half-hated one you shoved in a bag somewhere, that only occasionally shows its face to remind you that you still haven’t figured out where you went wrong in the pattern repeats, or been able to face another nine inches of seed stitch in lace-weight silk.
Every knitter/crocheter, I’ll wager, has a project like this. If you can’t think of one, it’s probably because your version of this project has tortured you so badly that you’ve blanked it from your memory. Lucky you: isn’t the mind a wonderful thing? But it’s there somewhere, I guarantee. Go and look behind the sofa. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.
My particular project-of-doom sat in a broken washing basket under my bed for a year and a half, until I got it out the other day, girded my loins (whatever that expression means – second thoughts: I don’t want to know) and decided that I would not be defeated by 350g of purple sheep-shavings. It’s a neat little jumper (non-UK translation: sweater) in fine 4-ply (non-UK translation: flippin’ fingering-weight) waffle stitch (translation: nine million hours of stitching hell) and I am never ever knitting it again.
It’s a perfectly well-designed, well-written pattern called Thermal, and please don’t think for a moment that I’m criticising the designer (Laura Chau), because I’m not. It’s a beautiful pattern, worked in waffle stitch to trap cosy little insulating pockets of air against your skin and keep you snug. If you’ve read any of my 300 rants about the temperature of this house, you’ll understand why I chose this pattern, decided to knit it, and bought soft purple merino for the job. There are some gorgeous pictures of finished versions on Ravelry. So far, so good, although I should possibly have hesitated when I noticed that the pattern said, “The fine gauge might take a little longer than usual.” If I am ever unfortunate enough to come across those words again in another pattern, I shall grab my children and my knitting needles and flee screaming from the house.
But in the end, it wasn’t even the sanity-sapping need to flick back and forth between knit and purl in yarn so narrow that I could’ve flossed with it, that did for me. No, it was the fact that I’d knitted round and round and round for a full twelve inches of jumper before I had the sense to hold the thing up and mutter, “Hang on, doesn’t this look a little… wide?”
Before you ask, yes, I’d swatched. Several times. In slightly different needle widths and materials, just to be sure. And yup, my stitch count was just as it should be. But somehow, 240 little stitches in the round were working out so big that, if I ever mastered the art of time travel, I could pop back and offer the thing to myself as maternity-wear for when I was bumpy with the Toddler Twinnage. (Just to put this in context, a midwife at the hospital laughed heartily and said that in her 20-year career, mine was the biggest bump she’d ever seen. Sigh. Thanks, twins.) Except that a summer twin pregnancy was possibly the only time in my life when I’ve ever felt warm enough and had limited need for super-warm knitwear.
Being an essentially lazy person, I couldn’t face frogging back and starting again. And devoid of other ideas, I went and whinged to the Stoic Spouse.
My husband’s usual approach to anything non-functional is to say, “I’ll take it in the garage,” where he’ll either add a bit of metal/wood, remove a bit of metal/wood, or bash it about until it works. Obviously, he was going to say something ludicrous about the jumper. But his first suggestion was almost workable. “Why don’t you wear it as a skirt?” he asked. Now that idea had some merit, because I do like narrow shortish warm knitted skirts, but I’m not sure I’d like one with a bobbly waffle-stitch texture, so I shook my head. “OK…” he paused. “Why don’t you just cut it down the side and sew it up a bit smaller?” His shrug implied that this plan was both obvious and workable.
“Cut?! Cut?” I screeched.
“But I’ve seen you cut your knitting before. Loads of times. Like that blog header you made…” I willed him not to repeat the shrug. For the sake of his survival to meet any future grandchildren, do not let him repeat the shrug.
“That was different. That was a steek.” (OK, so there wasn’t a hyperlink in my actual speech.) “You can’t just randomly go round hacking bits off your knitting when you feel like it!” He may have missed these last words because by now, my voice was so high-pitched that it was probably audible only to dogs. “Besides,” I added, because I was really going to nail this argument, “the yarn is superwash: you can’t steek superwash.”
He stared at me blankly, whether through his inability to hear speech at 40kHz, or whether because he had no idea what I was on about, I don’t know.
But I was still left with an unworkable jumper. And, whilst I’d’ve cut off my own nose rather than admit it to him, maybe the Stoic Spouse’s idea wasn’t entirely insane. After all, what else was I going to do? (No, I was not frogging the beast.) So with a lot of eye-rolling and ‘hmph’-ing, I began to consider the possibility. Obviously, it wouldn’t be a real steek. And the felt-proof superwash (no I don’t know why I decided to use superwash, either – it was a long time ago, and I wouldn’t make that choice now) would need an insane amount of reinforcement on either side of the cut, possibly involving superglue and staples when mere stitching didn’t work out…
So I did it. I sewed up and down (and up and down, and up and down) where I wanted to join, and on either side of the band I planned to cut out. And then I made the first cut…
…And the second cut, which left me with this:-
And then in a move of gross stupidity that I’d recommend to nobody, I folded over my cut edges and sewed them a bit more. This was quite a stupid plan, because I now have some incredibly bulky sewed-up stuff on the inside of the seam, thus ensuring that (i) I’ll be irritatedly scratching my right side every time I wear the jumper, and (ii) I’ll look two inches wider than I am. (See bulky side of the jumper near camera on photo below.) Oh well. It’s like wearing a hair shirt: my punishment for knitting stupidity. Maybe next time I won’t make such a stupid mistake. At least I’m hard at work on the jumper:-
As for the Stoic Spouse, I plan to convince him that I’ve filled out a bit, and I’ll just have to hope that he never notices the seam when I wear the jumper.