In case you thought I was kidding

About the garter stitch scarf:

Garter stitch scarves are like therapy when you’ve been traumatized by your other projects. Here’s the pattern: get some bulky yarn (or two colors of worsted), some ungainly large needles, cast on fifteen stitches, and knit. Knit every stitch of every row, until you think it’s long enough, or you run out of yarn.

It is very hard to get garter stitch wrong. It’s very forgiving if your tension is uneven. It’s hard to agonize over (here ignore the fact that I agonized for the first five inches on whether to rip out and start over, slipping the first stitch, purlwise wyif, of every row. I got over it). If you’re called away for a moment or just stare off into space, you don’t have to dig out your pattern or figure out where you are. You just knit.

In a garter stitch scarf, there’s no shaping to screw up. You don’t have to fit it to a body… just make it long; it’ll fit someone. It’s really hard to mess up badly enough that you have to rip it out. There are no buttons you have to match to it. There’s no collar to fudge, then rip out, then fudge, then rip out until your yarn looks like barf.

In other words, a garter stitch scarf does not have any project qualities in common with my purple sweater.

On Wednesday, while the view from our apartment looked like this:

The purple sweater, and the office, looked like this:

I was so excited to have it at this point. I didn’t have to redo the front; I just did the shoulder, which took nary an hour. What’s more, while a sweater is still 2-d, I still have a feeling of control. Once it has to conform to the shape of a human body, things get a little more dicey.

What followed the blocking was about 48 hours of stopping and starting. I discovered that the back and front shoulders were not shaped in any way remotely related to each other (which is only problematic because they have to be sewn together), so I redid the shoulders on the back. I sewed up the shoulders and knit the collar, but without sleeves or side seams, I had no way of knowing how the collar was actually going to lay. So I sewed the shoulder the rest of the way up, on the way discovering that the knowledge of how to do a mattress stitch (to make an invisible seam) had utterly evaporated from my mind, and I was doing some sort of contorted imitation that sprang unbidden from some recesses of my brain and looked mostly crappy. But I decided I didn’t care, just trying it on… and discovering that stood straight up from my body in a way that made me look like the snow queen from Narnia.  Of course, even though I had known full well I’d probably have to pick it out, I’d done a sewn bind off, which took forever to undo. But I undid it, and redid the collar, just totally making up a shape that hopefully both be related to the shape of my shoulder area and not look like a Picasso when complete. Satisfied with the result, I went to bed in peace last night. In the morning I hit up Joann Fabrics on the way to work to look for some buttons.. and something amazing happened. They had the perfect button. I mean seriously, It looked as if Nashua Handknits had taken a skein of Shenandoah in Purple to the La Mode button company and asked them to come up with a button to match it. This had to be too good to be true. Well, it was. Joann’s had 3 of these buttons. I needed 4. The nice lady at the cash register gave me the phone numbers of some Joanns that had them in stock (thank God for networked inventories), and a followup call from me confirmed they had them in Severna Park. Problem: Severna park is in the opposite direction of our CSA, which I have to go to today as well. Not wanting to do 1.5 extra hours on the road today, I kept calling other stores, and lo and behold, there is a store in Frederick holding one for me at this very moment. Not that I will drive out there today, but the store is a mere two minutes off the highway we’ll be taking to Pittsburgh tomorrow morning.

After all that trial, this story does have a happy ending. 3 buttons is enough that I can wear the sweater tonight. My goal is accomplished,  and though sometimes it seems as if my project is pitted against me, this time we reconciled on a decent product. I really don’t have words for the relief and blessedness I feel, both at having survived this sweater, and by ending up at the other end with something I’ll actually wear. After all my fretting, it feels like a miracle.

Tonight starts the Knitting Olympics. I must really like deadline knitting, because I keep signing myself up for it.

3 thoughts on “In case you thought I was kidding

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