Knitting Oopsies

Is oopsies even a word? No matter, all you knitters know what I mean. It’s the little voice in the back of your head that is saying “this won’t fit/work” that you ignore because you are in denial and don’t want to rip it out again. Case in point…

Mom's Cardigan
Mom’s Cardigan

A sweater for my Mom. She picked out a pattern that looks exactly like a sweater I knit for myself in the late 70’s. But the 70’s are back (in the fashion world, anyway) and she liked it. It was a simple bottom-up raglan, wrapped cardigan with a belt, mostly stockinette. I thought “well, the top-down, knit-it-all-in-one-piece girl can learn a new skill, I’ll do it on my knitting machine (used only for sock blanks and one child’s vest up to now). Easy-peasy” (insert maniacal cackling here).

Oy! Just finding my gauge turned into a Sherlock Holmes-esk adventure. How do you KM knitters keep from going mad? After 8 gauge swatches that involved an entire ball of yarn each I finally arrived at the magic combination that did the trick. Yes, Joan, I washed and blocked my swatches before measuring my gauge ๐Ÿ˜‰

Then the adventure of getting it to come out in all the right shapes. I finally drew pattern pieces on muslin and pinned them to the blocking board according to the math of the pattern to get each piece just right. After several attempts and re-dos I had all the knitted pieces that matched the patterns. Whew! But the little voice in the back of my head started to get a little louder. “How can a sweater, that is a wrap cardigan, have the two fronts the same width as the back? Shouldn’t they be a bit wider for overlap?” I really didn’t want to do it over again at this int so I convinced myself that once it was sewn together it would be fine.

Mom's cardigan without the belt
Mom’s cardigan without the belt

Seaming. NOW I remember why I always knit in the round, I hate sewing up seams. Well, I’d had a lesson from Joan at Heritage Spinning & Weaving on doing just that. So I sewed up the side seams, nice straight edges that went together like a dream with the mattress stitch and looked fab! “I can do this” I thought. Then the raglan seams… seam it up, pick it out. Seam it up again, pick it out, rinse and repeat. A lot. I finally got them so that I could live with them but they weren’t perfect. Then the front bands had to be seamed on. Separately? Really? Again, the straight parts looked great, the curved section, not so much. And in the photos I see that I should have made it snugger around the back of the neck. After trying it on me that little voice was starting to shout, it was too snug in the front and in the shoulders, the pattern’s shaping had been too steep. I’d already put so many other projects on hold to wrestle this one into completion that I really didn’t have the heart to start over – again. Besides, it was supposed to be her Christmas present and I’d made her wait so long for it. And it might fit her even if it didn’t fit me. And… and… and…

I shipped it off. The minute it left my hands at the Post Office I regretted it. I knew it was wrong and I should have re-done it.

Mom loved the sweater, but it didn’t fit – too snug in the bust and shoulders. I begged her to send it back (she hated to make me re-do it) but I convinced her that it would bug me for the rest of my life if she didn’t let me have another go.

The yarn is Kathmandu Aran in a lovely tweedy beige and it is wonderful. I loved working with it and, of course (I am a button maker), even a wrap around needs a back-up system so it has a fused glass button, made by moi. ๐Ÿ™‚

Fused glass button detail
Fused glass button detail

The funny thing is, once I talked to her and she agreed to send it back to me, I felt relief. I’m actually looking forward to re-knitting it and having it turn out right. I just needed a break from it and I’m ready to take it on again. The next go-round will be doing the same pattern but not following the same pattern (if you get my meaning). I will be knitting it by hand after getting the yarn ready for another go and using my favorite go-to book for my favorite method of making sweaters; Ann Budd’s The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters, I have the e-book version on my iPad so it is always with me – convenient. I am sure that I will knit it the second time, by hand, much faster than the first time by machine. Meanwhile, my KM is still my best friend for knitting sock blanks, my favorite way to dye sock yarn. And I have learned a ton while working my way through all these issues. In the end, I’m a process knitter. That means I knit because I enjoy the process and a finished project at the end is just the bonus. Ripping out and re-doing is not really that big of a deal ย just got in the way of other projects. But I’ve got until Fall to get the Sweater Sequel to Mom. That gives me time to sneak in a few projects waiting for the finishing touches while I’m doing it.

Would you be willing to re-knit a sweater from start to finish several times to get it right?

Deb H

Knitting Oopsies

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