Monthly Archives: January 2006

The third time’s the charm.

sj-knit.jpg I have been trying to finish my first sweater for two and a half years. Not possible, you say? Let me explain. In October of 2003, I joined the Sweater/Jumper Knitalong, with all good intentions to knit a sweater. In January 2004, I gave up on sweater #1 (a top-down raglan) and cast on for sweater #2 (a turtleneck in Classic Elite Lush). In January of 2005, I found out I was knitting the turtleneck in the wrong size (D’oh!), ripped it out and began re-knitting. Though I finished the body and one sleeve, the sweater languished for long periods in 2005 as I discovered a love for sock knitting and a lack of actual knitting time (I considered quitting my job to open up my knitting schedule, but the job pays for the yarn). You can knit a sweater in two months if you really like it.

In November of 2005, after stumbling on a bag of Takhi Soho Tweed for a song (thank you, Ebay!), I resolved to make Banff. Two months later – Friday evening at 10:43 p.m., in fact – our long national nightmare came to an end, and I finished my first sweater. I’m sure Elisabeth has long ago moved on from the Sweater/Jumper Knitalong, but I had not, until now. Thank you for hosting, Elisabeth – I had a great time. While I’m doing a victory lap, I’d also like to thank Vicki Square, author of the formidable Knitter’s Companion – thanks to your clear, concise instructions, I was able to seam like a champ. Here I am, seconds after casting off Friday night. My first “look at my sweater in the mirror” shot, in my pyjamas. Dude, look at my sweater!

What on earth could you learn from dragging out the process of knitting a sweater over the better part of three years? To wit: Never choose to knit something a certain way because you are afraid of trying a new technique or think you cannot learn a new skill. To avoid seaming the Lush sweater, I learned 1. How to convert patterns from flat to round, 2. How to wet-block, 3. How to frog and rewind, 4. How to make phoney seams, 5. How to avoid stairstep bindoffs at the shoulders, 5. How to knit without looking, 6. How to knit in the dark. I also got a crash course in how knowledge of negative ease would have improved my Lush sweater’s fit, and a fly-by on knitting shoulder caps using short rows and knitting sleeves from the top down. With all I managed to learn trying to avoid doing the knitting tasks I didn’t think I could learn, it becomes easier to understand why learning how to seam for Banff seemed not so hard to do after all.

The sweater did not spontaneously disappear when I wore it outside I will confess that knitblogging has influenced my opinions about knitting; because people knit at breakneck speed in blogland, I came to believe that “real knitters” finish things, “most knitters” knit quite fast, and “real knitters” may dabble in cozies, felted bags and scarves, but they’re in it to make stuff you can wear – socks and sweaters, mittens and gloves. Yes, I convinced myself that “you weren’t a real knitter if you hadn’t made a sweater.” It helps if you say that in a kind of resigned sing-song, like you know it’s wrong, but you can’t help it. Now, giddy with having proven to myself that I can indeed make a sweater, I’m ready for more. And I’m ready to venture a guess that “real knitters” don’t waste time being afraid of knitting techniques or limit themselves to projects that aren’t “too hard” – they just knit to learn and to enjoy it. Cool. Even so? I’m glad I got a sweater out of it.

A new leaf, knitting-wise.

I am the back of Banff Once again, I ended the old year as I meant to begin the new one: knitting. December 31 found the Knit One Purl Too crew at a New Year’s party heavily populated with knitters (not just one but two projects from Knitty were in full swing – the Marley scarf is very cool in person). If January 1 is any indication of how the rest of the new year will go, it will be a tidier-than-average year (who shampoos their carpet on January 1? We do!) full of exercise and knitting. and, though I’ve said this before and been utterly wrong, I’m almost completely positive there will be a finished sweater – my first.

I owe most of my progress on Banff to date to my steady consumption of TV shows on DVD: nothing gets rid of the sickly sweet heartwarming aftertaste of Seinfeld like two seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Yes, I’m being sarcastic, but it sneaks up on you – first you think the show is just weird, and by the end of the season, you might find yourself saying, as I did “This is a show even more emphatically about nothing than Seinfeld. That Larry David is a genius.” I am the sleeves of Banff.  Yes, this knitter is off Sleeve Island

Since the knitting friend who inspired me to start Banff is returning from six months in New Zealand tomorrow, I had hoped against hope to actually finish Banff and wear it to the airport when I picked her up. This photo shows where I was on the front yesterday afternoon; even though I’ve made some progress, I feel fairly certain that I can’t complete the front, seam the sweater and knit the turtleneck in the next 28 hours. One piece to go - the front

In the better late than never department, item one, we have a photo of the finished ToteAround; I love this bag a lot – it was definitely worth waiting until I cracked the code and could do it justice with my improved technique. It’s not my last FO of 2005, but it might be my favorite. Stats: Navy Cascade 220, Kureyon 102 (top) and Kureyon 40 (bottom), plus one and a half cycles in the wash and two days to dry. I'm carrying it right now, actually

Better late than never, item two: I ran across Kelly’s list of knitting resolutions for 2006; since I already had something like this in mind, I thought I’d write some things down so I can look back in 360-odd days and see what really happened.

Notable in 2005

1. New technique(s): Two-handed Fair Isle, dropping stitches more than a few rows to fix mistakes which include cables needing retwisting, the afterthought heel, purling 2 together through the back loop.
2. Favorite finished object: The ToteAlong; I liked making it, I like the finished result, and I will actually use it.
3. Favorite knit-along: I loved being a sock pal for SockaPal2za. I’d do it again in a heartbeat, so I’m happy to see Alison is considering it. I’d also like to publicly apologize to those in the StockingAlong and Who Wouldn’t Love a Handknitted Gift – I was too wrapped up in actually knitting the stocking to post about knitting the stocking.
4. Favorite shop: One with yarn in it. I don’t buy a lot of yarn, but I find it slightly unsettling that I’m losing interest in other kinds of stores.
5. Favorite tool: I have two sets of Denise needles, thanks to a happy gifting experience last year. I’ve also grown to appreciate and prefer bamboo DPNs to birch ones.

Resolutions for 2006

1. Finish a sweater (I know, My God, shut up already about the “no sweater yet” thing and knit).
2. Finish UFOs. Other than Banff. I currently have two pairs of socks and a sweater on the needles; I’d like to finish two of those three things before starting something new.
3. Fight startitis. As a rule, I’d like no more than three things on the needles at any one time: socks or something small, a medium project (tank top, hat, scarf), and a big project (sweater, afghan or shawl).
4. Ix-nay on the deadline-oriented gift knitting – who cares if it feels weird to be knitting something red and green in July? Starting early cuts down on the feeling of desperation later.
5. Knit something lacy.
6. Reclaim the yarn from a sweater. I already have two to choose from, so I feel like I’m halfway there.
7. Go through my odds-and-ends box – if the yarn in there were more organized, it might get used up.
8. Beat my FO total for 2005. Three pairs of socks, one hat, one felted bag, one Christmas stocking. I think I can beat that, and if I do, I can rationalize treating myself to something new. Note to Margene: The desire for increased productivity is really more about persistence than product – seeing the results of sticking it out is just a bonus.

Possible projects for 2006 (very, very hard to limit myself to 10 – but what’s the point of making a list unless it has an end to it? That said, I reserve the right to make substitutions for knitting projects to be named later.)

1. Lopi sweater #22 from book 18 (currently stashed)
2. The Flower Basket Shawl (currently stashed)
3. Katrina Rib Shell
4. Crusoe socks (currently stashed, choice of two colors)
5. Hatmione (possible stash substitution available)
6. Pop-up Paws fingerless gloves with mitten tops (currently stashed)
7. Ene’s scarf from Scarf Style
8. I-cord gloves (possible stash)
9. The cabled cardigan from VK Holiday 2004, or Shana’s own lovely cable and rib Anastasia sweater.
10. Tiny Christmas ornament sweaters (currently stashed).
10a. (or the bonus round): I have approximately a jillion sock patterns culled from the interweb – perhaps it’s time to give one of those a try? Like Liesje’s socks (picture here).

This leaves out The Must Have cardigan, any socks of any kind that rock or Jaywalk, and you’ll note I haven’t left much room for the unexpected. I guess that’s why they call them surprises – Happy New Year!