Sunday, January 14, 2018

Tangled up in blue

Knitting a sweater is an undertaking, even for the most proficient knitter. That is unless you knit a tiny sweater like I did once for one of my son’s teddy bears. Then it’s not that big of a deal. But assuming you are knitting a sweater for an adult type person, it’s a big job. And that’s why some of the women in my knitting group decided to do a sweater knit-along this year. We promise to keep each other motivated and give each other the emotional support you need throughout the sweater knitting process.

You wouldn't think it would be an emotional process. It's just a sweater. But did you know that there is a sweater curse? (If Wikipedia didn't convince you, how about the New Yorker?) You run a real risk of ruining a relationship if you knit a sweater for a boy (or girl) friend prior to some official commitment ceremony. Of course, this is just a myth. But one that seems to have been proven true through anecdotal evidence, which is the best kind of evidence because it's interesting and not filled with a bunch of numbers and statistics and deviations from the mean. Luckily Johnpaul and I are married, and so my knitting a sweater for him will not spell the eventual ruin of our relationship (fingers crossed). In fact, I once knit him a sweater, this very sweater pattern, in fact, many years ago; and it taking several years to finish and it not fitting him in the end and becoming my sweater (which I still have not sown the buttons on to yet - it's a cardigan) has not spelled the end of our relationship. Either our relationship is strong enough to withstand the sweater curse or it's just a myth. Either way, I owe him a sweater, that fits.

I am at the very beginning of this process. So far I have finished the gauge swatch. This is the pre-knitting thing that some knitters do (I often skip this step) to ensure that what you’re knitting will come out the size you want it to. It’s not something you can really skip when you’re knitting a sweater (toys yes, sweaters no). I’m knitting it in a different weight of yarn than what the pattern calls for which means I have to change needle sizes. Which means I have to figure out sizing and do math and I really don’t even know why I’m knitting him a sweater other than I have already bought a bunch of yarn for a sweater for him and that whole thing about owing him a sweater. You see why you might need emotional support during this process.

I have trepidation about knitting the sweater not only because of the difficulty knitting a sweater entails but also because I want it to look nice. I want him to want to wear it. Not because I knit it for him, but because he likes it. But I just don’t think I’m that great of a knitter. I don’t know what it is. Is it that I don’t take my time? Is it that I don’t knit enough so don’t get enough practice? Is it that I’m too hard on myself? It’s like everything else in my life - I’m just so-so at stuff. I’m one of those knows a little bit about a lot of things people. I don’t specialize in anything. And it’s not like I want to specialize in knitting, but I want to be good at it. Maybe I just need to try again and not worry about it so much. Just be patient, with the knitting and with myself.

I’m probably never going to be excellent or the number 1 or the expert in any one thing. But I can be the best I can be. Ok this is starting to sound like an ad for the Amy (sidenote: Be All You Can Be was the slogan for the Army for 21 years.)

For now I am ready to take the next step, casting on the 140+ stitches I need to start the back piece of this sweater. But not actually yet. I forgot that this sweater, the George pattern in the Jane Ellison Queensland Collection (I'm not getting any commission or anything, I just like to give designers their due), has an accent color that I will need sooner rather than later and I didn't buy any. So now I have to wait until I get that to start. Which is fine - I'll knit a hat instead.

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