Tuesday, August 8, 2006

cardi for mum

I started this cardigan for my mother in law about two weeks ago.

I ordered the yarn online and when it arrived, I opened it up happily ready to start my first cardigan. I swatched it up like a good girl since I wasn’t using the same yarn after all as the original pattern. I even blocked it because the guage seemed to be totally off.

This took time, but I am patient.

While we wait for the swatch to soak, let me ’splain a little. I needed to block because the pattern writer got 19 stitches/4" and I got 22. Sometimes I got 23. And once, when I was really trying, I got 20. But strangely we both got 29 rows for 4" as well. Bizarre.

Once the swatch had soaked for enough time, I rinsed out the swatch and got all hellraiser on it:

You like my Ikea bag covering the bulletin board? You gotta stay resourceful when you lack the proper tools.

I know you are on the edge of your seats wondering what’s going to happen with this. But:

* * *

Well some time has passed since I started this post. After the swatch dried, I measured the guage again, but felt pretty lame since the fabric had all stretched out and it looked cheap (sigh). So I gave up and pulled out the calculator to do some math. I had it upon good authority that the chest was 46″ (notes scribbled somewhere, but I didn’t bother to go back and check since I remembered 46″.) I figured out roughly the changes I needed to make and cast on 114 stiches. Then I knit, and knit, and knit, and knit (and sometimes, I threw a purl in there for a little excitement). And after several hours, I got this:

Then I knit ,and knit, and knit. I measured guage like a freaking maniac every few rows or so. And then I knit and knit and knit some more. No purling thrown in anywhere for excitement because I was knitting up the back of the sweater and it is just miles and miles of stockinette. Which was okay after awhile. I got to that zen meditative place that I keep hearing about. When people find out that I knit, I often hear the comment: Oh that must be so relaxing. Or My _____(insert loved one here. such as mother, wife, girlfriend, etc.) knits and she finds it meditative. I usually look at them blankly and think dark thoughts about these calm meditative knitters. Knitting usually brings out even more curse words from me than usual. And I have been compared to sailors and truck drivers in my ability to string along a bunch of swear words. But now that I was knitting (and knitting, and knitting) up miles (and miles, and miles, oh you get the point) of stockinette for a cardigan that was intended for someone with a 46" chest, I too could find my zen here.

Then one afternoon, oh…for shits and giggles, I looked up my notes where I had scribbled down my careful measurements and was… dismayed (this is the clean version of the story) to note that my mother in law has a 48" chest. All that zen meditative knitting must have worked some magic on me because I very calmly (perhaps a little too calmly?) ripped out the 6 or so inches of knitting (and knitting, and knitting) that I had accomplished and re-cast on to the correct 136 stitches for the correct 48" measurement.

Since then I was able to knit up a considerable amount of the back. I made a tiny adjustment and knit up an extra two inches of length because my mother in law (as she puts it) is a big girl and probably she doesn’t want her cardigan to just skim the waist. She probably likes a little extra length for comfort’s sake. So I knit in two extra inches. And just the other night I started the armholes (!). But I had learned from my mistakes so I measured the gauge and counted stitches religiously and really got into that zen thing. And early Sunday evening saw me finishing the back of the cardigan, binding off and cutting the thread (!). It felt good. I carefully folded up the finished piece and put it away in my bag for safe keeping.

Then I set out to do the math for the fronts. You’d think that I’d just do all the calculations at once and save myself the trouble of trying to remember how I arrived at my previous numbers. But I am not that smart. Meditative, yes. Smart, no.

I cast on the appropriate number of stitches for each side. I even decided to knit up both fronts (left side of the cardi front and the right side of the cardi front) at the same time so that I could … I don’t know. It just seemed like a good idea. You know, cause I can?

I was on my way to a restaurant with my friends janet and eric so I could only get the casting on done. Then there was dinner and eating and talking and meeting people, and it just didn’t seem right to whip out the knitting while there was socializing going on so I just sat on my hands and got through the meal (Big lie, I pigged out, drank wine, talked and played with the baby. There was a baby there. I wish I had brought my camera cause he was mighty cute and way more fascinating than all these tales of knitting stupidity woes.).

Then the evening was over and I was home again. Exclaiming at how sunburned m was (funny, he just looked a little dirty and sandy when I left him. Did I mention that I went to the beach on Sunday morning?) and setting out to slather as much aloe vera on his shoulders as I could.

We settled into bed (as best as possible considering the slimey aloe vera) for a few minutes with a book and knitting before going to sleep. I pulled out the finished back of the cardigan and showed it to my husband. He silently, reverently and whole-heartedly high-fived me on my accomplishment. Then. And then. Oh, just because, you know? I pulled out my trusty measuring tape and checked out the length of the body and the armholes and compared it to the schematic.

Hm…the pattern writer thinks that the body before the armholes should be 15″ long and the armholes should be 11.5″ long from the start of the armholes to the shoulder seam. I measured and checked again. So… in counting…15 comes after 13, right?


Somehow, the body of the cardigan AND the armholes both measured in at 13″. I have no idea how this happened. What about the additional two inches I incorporated?? I would like to blame knitting sprites or something, but really I think I need to lay blame where blame is due. Meditative knitting is bullshit. You can’t relax. You need to be uptight and anxious and neurotic. You need to count stitches like a madwoman and measure gauge every five minutes. You need to tattoo the schematic to your arm for easy and frequent reference.

So. And so. I ripped out 13" of knitting yesterday during my lunch break. Meditatively. I wound up all that yarn again and made it into a pretty centre-pull ball. I put my simultaneous front knitting aside and picked up the needles for the back (once more). And I knit, and knit, and knit some more.

Photos of my progress are pretty moot at this point since I seem to go forwards and back so often. Maybe when I get to the fronts for real, I’ll photograph it. You know, for posterity or something.

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