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).
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.
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.
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.