Friday, November 02, 2007

The Orange Sweater of Doom

Nearly six years ago I stopped knitting. I don't know why. The knitting muse just left me. I had the hem and collar left to do on a Norwegian ski sweater; it has sat, unfinished, in the closet all this time.

In late 2005 a knitter friend was with me in a yarn shop, and she encouraged me to buy yarn and knit something new. Dave was along too, and he chose some Peace Fleece in Glasnost Gold (a nice heathered orange) for Chad's Pullover (it's there, scroll down). A nice simple knit in worsted weight yarn. Nothing taxing, just something to get me back into the knitting groove.

I used the recommended yarn on the recommended needles, and was done with the back and more than three quarters of the way up the front before I finally had to admit that it was so small that there was no way it would ever going to fit him. So I ripped the whole thing out and started again, on far, far bigger needles, this time making the biggest size. I got the back and most of the front done again, and then, sick of moss stitch, put the thing aside for more than a year.

We live in a condo with limited storage space for my yarn stash. The knitting muse came back in earnest when I was pregnant with Clara last year, and as we were making room for her I decided I needed to finish some long-dormant projects if I was going to have anywhere to put the yarn that had started coming into the house again. So: the front of the orange sweater got finished, and soon there were shoulder seams, and a collar, and about a third of one sleeve, knitted downward from the edge of the body. Then the whole thing went back into the closet again, because holy fez the moss stitch was going far too slowly and small, instant-gratification baby things needed to be made! Twitch!

When the weather started turning a bit cooler this fall, I decided to dig the thing out again and work on it in the car as we went on our autumn roadtrip. You know what? Working on a sweater means that progress gets made. I finished the first sleeve; Dave tried it on and deemed it too short; I pulled out the cuff and made the thing longer. Yay. First sleeve done.

Picked up stitches along the other side for the second sleeve; knat along for a while; realized I'd screwed up a decrease somewhere. Hunted and hunted. Found it about 4" back. Ripped. Put the 4" back. Spent the better part of a day hunting for a missing ball of yarn, having horrible visions of having left it at an Econo Lodge somewhere outside Rochester, NY. Found it under the bed. Continued to knit. Finished the cuff. Looked at it and realized I'd forgotten the decrease row before the cuff. Ripped out and reknit the cuff. Sewed the side seams. THANK CROYST IT'S DONE I CAN KNIT SOMETHING ELSE. Presented it to Dave, who tried it on, and sheepishly (heh) complained that it was too short.


Adding length from the top would involve ripping out both sleeves. No. And I'd put in too damn much work on this thing for him not to be able to wear it. I decided that, for the first time ever, I would cut a garment to fix it. I thought: I'll just snip a stitch, pick out a row, add length on top of the ribbing, and then graft the f*cker back together again.

[Apologies are due to the non-knitters reading. It gets even more technical from here. Reader's Digest version is that I AM THE SERENEST.]

Have you ever tried to graft 2x2 moss stitch? I didn't think so; there seems to exist almost nothing online about how to do it. And all the stuff I could find in knitting books was about 2x2 rib, which didn't help much. Laura says she has tried it and found it so fierce that she recommends just grafting it in stocking stitch and then duplicate-stitching on the purl bumps later. But by this point I am far too obsessive about this fershluginer sweater to use a kludge.

It took me the better part of three days to figure out how to do it. I made a small swatch out of different yarn, and knitted (and purled) a white row in the middle as a guide for the grafted row. I tried six or seven times on the actual sweater. And suddenly, yesterday, the clouds parted, and light shone down, and a choir of angels sang, and I was using a darning needle to connect two pieces of knitting with something that looked very much like moss stitch.

The back is now done, and I'm picking out a row on the front. I'll work in the dreaded moss stitch for 3" or so, praying that I don't run out of yarn, and then graft some more. And then I will resew the bottoms of the side seams, and I will present the sweater to Dave, and he will put it on, and he will exclaim happily about the fit, and then he will wear it every day for a month if he knows what's good for him.

And then I'll sew the hem on that goddamn ski sweater.