During the Great Finishathon Of 2020, I knitted a jumper, that sparked a new love of hand knit garments. Ahead of Me Made May last year, I took a look at my handmade wardrobe, and knitwear still remained a rather large large hole in the collection. For an autumn challenge especially, I wanted to add som mid-season knits that could carry me from a cool evening, layered over a tank top, all the way through to winter wear over a love sleeve tee and under a coat. A million Pinterest scrolls later, I had culled my options down to two, and took them to the board.
After much intense discussion that started with “MAKE BOTH” followed rapidly by a reply of “no that’s not helpful I need to pick ONE”, we managed to come to some kind of agreement. The yarn was ordered, the pattern downloaded, and then came my first error. I made a start on a new cardigan, without swatching. We all know where this is going, right?
I knitted away, night after night. I binged my way through all three seasons of Wonderland. I made a start and solid progress through Bones. Knit knit knit went I, all the way through Me Made May and beyond. At hockey. At the school table. For most of May, it was my only non-sewing project I worked on. The first week of June, I managed to get it off the needles, and onto the blocking boards. It took forever to dry, and once I had it off the boards, I was so excited to try it on. Excited, that is, until I realised the fit wasn’t quite right.
Remember that lack of swatching? Yeah. That. It came back to bite me on the bum pretty spectacularly.
Was it an issue other people would notice? Possibly not, unless they were a knitter. Was it an issue I would notice? Every. Darn. Time. I wore it a couple of times, and fiddled with it the entire time trying to get it to sit properly. I decided to reblock it, as it probably wasn’t quite dry when I took it off the first time. Trying to dry wool, in winter, with an inside cat, was An Adventure for sure. For round two, the cat and I had a serious talk, and she assured me she wouldn’t touch the jumper. What I neglected to mention was she also shouldn’t scratch the crap out of the blocking mats.
With the second round of blocking complete, the fit still wasn’t great. I attempted another wear or two. The fit issues hadn’t resolved to my satisfaction. Thankfully by this point, the weather was warming up, and I could shove it in a crate with my other winter clothes, and make it 2022’s problems.
It’s now 2022. And because this year didn’t have enough problems, the time has come to make a decision on this cardigan. Once, I would have given up in frustration. I know me, though, and the unworn cardigan would have bugged me forever more. I’ve learnt over the years, that while some mistakes and imperfections can be lived with, some can’t. I really wanted this cardigan to work, and so I took a deep breath, found the end of the yarn, closed my eyes, and pulled.
“Why is it called frogging, mummy? Because you RIPPIT, RIPPIT!”
As much as I hate frogging, my children love it in equal measure. The pun is irresistibly hilarious to them, and there is, I guess, something perversely satisfying about watching a pile of neatly crinkled yarn grow as the garment itself shrinks.
I swatched before I began with my second attempt, and fiddled with needle size and stitch count to fix the discrepancies. I cast on and powered through the collar and the beginning of the yoke. Then. Then I needed to switch up a needle size and…nope. It looked terrible. The needle was far too large and left the knitting loose and messy. Just as my first attempt wasn’t quite right, I knew also I wouldn’t wear whatever this was turning out to be.
We went to the coast for the weekend. I packed my yarn and the right sized needles to begin the swatching process again. Did I pick it up and swatch? Not on your life. I did finish three books. Walked on the beach. Chilled by the pool. Who wants to do something boring like SWATCHING when there is so much holiday fun to be had? But all good things must come to an end, and last night, I decided swatching wasn’t nearly as boring as the three hundred loads of washing staring at me, waiting for their turn in the machine. I quickly swatched up 15 stitches over 18 rows. It was far from the 10x10cm square I was supposed to have.
Today’s job is to recalculate the pattern based on this latest swatch. Hopefully, in between all that washing I am still catching up on, I might even get to cast on. The collar in particular is ideal for school table crafting, just that rhythmic back and forth of garter stitch. No counting, no stitch switching, just knit knit knit and watch it grow. Next week is probably going to be a school break week, so I’m hoping to get down to the yoke increases this week, ahead of having more time and brainpower next week. The Monday after a weekend away is always hard to get motivated, so I’m aiming low and hoping for the best. Have a fabulous week friends!