Hello my Fine Fibrous Friends, and thank you for your kindness in response to my last post. Your words have been a comfort. Seriously.
Meanwhile, this week’s life lesson has been, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR. Also, WHEN YOU’RE IN A HOLE, YOU SHOULD PROBABLY RECONSIDER YOUR URGE TO DIG. With a side order of, TRUST THE DILIGENT WORK YOU’VE PUT INTO DESIGNING AND DON’T MAKE STUPID IMPULSIVE DECISIONS LATE AT NIGHT. Would you like to see details of my humiliation? Of course you would.
This blog relies on stuff going wrong to fuel a few maybe-amusing anecdotes. If, for example, the Stoic Spouse was devoured by a man-eating shark that was living undetected in our little wildlife pond, then of course 99% of my thinking would be, “Oh no, my cherished husband has met a brutal and untimely end, and our sweet children will be bereft.” But there’s a teeny weeny little bit of me that’d be musing, “Hmm, I reckon I could get two – maybe even three – blog posts out of this, if I embellish the story a bit.”
(Don’t worry, no actual husbands were harmed in the making of this blog post.)
I did draft a post, and tinkered with it for weeks, but it wasn’t good enough. It’s frustrating, I thought, that nothing yarn-related has gone spectacularly wrong lately.
As I said, be careful what you wish for. Very careful.
I’ve been working on a couple of design commissions for the fabulous Finnish yarn company, Novita. There’s a cardigan-in-progress that I’ve been showing sometimes on my main Instagram account (as opposed to my garden and food-growing Insta account). And you know what? I’m pretty pleased with how the cardigan turned out – the motifs, the carefully fitted shaping, the everything. Details of the pattern have fallen neatly into place. The sleeves fitted perfectly into the armscyes and the steeks behaved themselves.
With that much hubris, it was fairly certain that the universe was gearing up for a laugh at my expense. I finished the knitting and measured the result. Hmm, a little bigger than it should have been, but it was nothing that a robust wash-and-block couldn’t resolve, right?
Wrong. With a late-night concern that my gauge was over-tight – despite swatch-derived evidence to the contrary as I carefully created the pattern – I’d upped my needle size when I started knitting the sample garment. Which was fine. Totally fine. Until the finished object was off the needles and on to the blocking boards, soggy and very, very, spready. I really should have relaxed and trusted the swatch. I’d disobeyed my own thoroughly-checked pattern and created a disaster. My OK-sized cardigan was way larger than the dimensions I’d promised Novita. What on earth should I do? I needed to send the finished object off to Finland to be photographed, pronto.
A sensible person would have calmly considered their options before taking action. I am not a sensible person.
Heat, that’s what this thing needed, right? First I re-washed and agitated it at the hottest temperature I dared (which wasn’t very hot at all, because whilst I hadn’t been commissioned to design a cardigan that would house an entire family, I also hadn’t been commissioned to design baby clothes for underweight mice). And I pinned it out on the board, all squidged into something not too far from the correct dimensions, hoping that it would take the hint. Reader, I now know that knitting is invulnerable to hints.
I should have stopped digging this hole that I was in, but… I didn’t. I fetched the hairdryer. I set it to maximum super-hot nuclear-level mega-blast – a setting that I’d never even dream of using on my own hair. I held it barely a centimetre over the pinned-out garment. That was how I learned the lesson that it’s possible to leave burn-marks on wool-based yarn with a hairdryer.
Finally, finally, I realized that it was time to stop excavating this hole that I’d dug. I went for a run to de-stress. That helped a lot. I discussed the situation with the Stoic Spouse who – mercifully – hadn’t been devoured by a shark. And then I left the cardigan pinned to the boards for a couple of days whilst it finished drying naturally.
You know what? By the time it was completely dry, it had settled into a not-wildly-unacceptable size. Bigger than I’d promised the yarn company, but I’m all for inclusive sizing so hopefully they won’t mind. The cardigan now fits me perfectly, but I’ve never been super-slender model material. Just in case, I’m speed-knitting a replacement using the needles THAT I SPECIFIED IN MY OWN FREAKIN’ PATTERN.
Lesson learned. Trust diligent swatching and pattern creation over late-night jitters about whether your knitting might be fractionally too small.
Tomorrow’s life lesson will be all about the dangers of putting off one’s to-do list by drafting a blog post instead.