Knitting Sisyphus and the Boyfriend Sweater Curse

As a knitter, you often hear tales of superstitions associated with knitted gifts. Or, if not, you have at the very least experienced the dread that the item you’ve dedicated countless hours of your life to, sacrificed your already dwindling sanity to, lovingly donated blood and tears to, might just be under appreciated by its intended recipient.

Back in September, I decided to knit a sweater for my boyfriend as a Christmas present. S is very deserving of a hand knit sweater. I figured that four months would be a fairly generous amount of time in which to complete the project, and since S lives in a different province, I didn’t worry that I would have to lose time “hiding” my knitting.

Now at this point, for those of you who are non-knitters, I will tell you that the “boyfriend sweater” is a cursed project. Knitting lore has it that knitting your boyfriend a sweater will bring about the dissolution of your relationship, and that somehow, the sweater itself will be instrumental in this dissolution. The only thing I found “cursed” about this sweater was the process. And all of the issues, every last little one of them, well now, they were my own fault (*grins sheepishly*).

I could have helped myself. I could have made it so this project didn’t turn me into Knitting Sisyphus winding a giant ball of yarn up a hill, just to have it unravel down the other side.

For starters, I could have helped myself by choosing a less complicated pattern, but I have yet to discover a Brooklyn Tweed Addicts Anonymous group out there to help address my addiction.

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The sweater pattern I chose was Jared Flood’s “Timberline” cardigan, from the BT Men collection. I really love how every pattern in the BT collection has little details that teach new skills, and make the finished products absolutely stellar. For “Timberline”, the tubular cast-on and I-cord edging make everything look so finished, but the complicated cable pattern does make it difficult to “mindlessly knit” the thing quickly.

My second issue was with my yarn choice. I selected Briggs & Little, and since I find that BT’s Shelter tends to be a bit thicker than most of the worsted I generally work with, I picked their Light Grey “Heritage” yarn, which is actually an aran-weight yarn.

I ordered it off the Internet, which meant I didn’t actually “feel” the yarn before a sweater’s worth ended up on my doorstep. When it arrived, it looked perfect, but was stiffer and scratchier than I imagined it would be. After washing, the wool will soften, but as I discovered while knitting the first sleeve, the stiffness and thickness of the wool, combined with the fact that my gauge required me to work on needles a half size smaller than the pattern recommends, means that the cables were incredibly difficult to work, and that my hands suffered painfully. I had to purchase replacement yarn.

The second yarn I selected was Cascade Yarn’s Eco +, in colour 8401, which is another light grey. The Eco + is also an aran-weight, but has more give, and is a lot softer than the Heritage. It made things much easier to work with, and in the end, probably stopped me from getting arthritis.

My next issue was actually the fact that I entirely lack the ability to say “no”, and tend to have a bit of knitting related ADHD. I want to knit all the things.

  • People having babies? – Must knit them sweaters and blankets.
  • People want help with their knitting? Hold on, don’t touch anything, I’ll be right over.
  • People want to give hand knit gifts as presents? Hold on, let me grab my needles.
  • New pretty projects on Ravelry? Oh, it’s only commuter knitting.

I am such a knitting pushover and self-enabler.

My last major issue was what I’m calling “the Cable Debacle of 2015”. After completing the body of the sweater, I noticed what I had failed to recognize as I was knitting. I had crossed a cable the wrong way in an early repeat of the pattern. Now, I’m fairly proficient at fixing things, but there were a number of factors that made it impossible to just drop back those six stitches. The only way I could see to fix it was to rip back to the error…40 hours of knitting ago. At this point S was texting K, my housemate, to physically restrain me from doing so.

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I felt the bitter taste of failure at that point. After putting so much time and effort into the sweater, knowing that that one cable was amiss was horribly disappointing, and I really didn’t think I could handle ripping back to fix it. I whined about it on Instagram, and then some other knitter – like an angel garbed in his very own “Timberline”– gave me the solution. He sent me a link to I need orange’s blog post on fixing incorrectly crossed cables by cutting them in the centre, and then kitchener stitching them back the correct way. New skill acquired, and thank you kind stranger wherever you are, you have saved my slightly deranged sanity.

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I did not finish S’s sweater in time for Christmas. Nor did I finish it in time for his birthday. It wasn’t even finished for Valentine’s Day when I went to visit him. (Instead he got a shirt, and his very own knitting lesson.) I finally sewed the buttons on at midnight on Friday. He is coming to visit next weekend, and will finally get his long overdo Christmas sweater. He’s promised to model it.


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In all, I can’t say that I believe in the “curse” so to speak. I certainly wouldn’t have knit a sweater; especially one that gave me so many difficulties, for someone I didn’t think would appreciate it. But I’ll let you know what he says when he gets it…or if he ever puts it in the dryer…DSC_0016 1

Cables and the Bowl that is not for Soup

I went to the library the other day and found some wonderful books that had cables and techniques for cabling in them and I’ve been trying to come up with a cabled cowl pattern. I’m almost done, but I’m not quite happy with it yet, so it may be a while yet before I post pictures and the pattern. I’ve almost completely ruined the first part of the ball of Malabrigo Worsted Merino because I keep changing my mind and ripping back.

So, tonight’s post is going to be about a fantastic gift that I got for Christmas. I guess that with moving back home to work, my parent’s have now come to realize the scope of my obsession and passion for knitting. My father has often commented on the way that balls of yarn escape me and roll about the room in which I work. So, for Christmas, he and my mother surprised me by getting me a hand crafted yarn bowl. I’m in love with it, and it does stop the problem of balls of yarn escaping around the house. It’s actually quite handy, and it has a neat little spiral cut out to pull the yarn through. But like every good gift, it is really the thought and motivation behind it that counts.

I can’t say for certain, but I’m fairly sure, that my father has never been in a yarn store without me being present, so trying to figure out how he managed to even know about the existence of such a thing had me flabbergasted, but apparently on a weekend when we had gone to see a play in Stratford, he had doubled back to drop things off in our hotel room, and snuck back into the yarn shop to get it! The story just makes the whole thing so much better!

I’ve taken a picture of it so you can see my new favourite toy…

Hibou

So a while ago I mentioned that I was designing one of the hats for Christmas Dinner myself. It was made for Kate, who loves owls, and also speaks French…hence the name “Hibou”. It was my first attempt at designing any kind of charting, but I think it turned out just fine. I think the owl is ADORABLE…but I might be biased… here is the pattern if you’re interested: HibouHat

This is the photo of it:

So I’m a Day Late…

I hope everyone had some fantastic holiday celebrations the last couple days. I’m happy to say that the hats at Christmas Dinner went over superbly. They well worth the crazy amount of knitting it took! Here are some pictures, sorry about the substandard lighting.

Merry Christmas!

Hi All,

Just a quick message to wish everyone Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas. It’s Christmas Eve for me right now, and I’ve had knitting on the brain and the needles all day. But have managed to complete the Christmas Hat Collection, they’re all stuffed with tissue paper and on the already set dinner table. I hope it goes over well. I found this fantastic ribbon at Hallmark that says “Homemade for You” and I’ve attached a bit of it to everyone of them, I think it will be fantastic 🙂 I’ll post pictures and the hat pattern I designed myself on boxing day. (Obviously if I did that now I would ruin the surprise!)

I hope you have a fantastic Holiday celebration wherever you are, and whatever you celebrate 🙂

Leigh

Baby it’s cold out there…

I have been incredibly thankful for all my woolen goodies over the last couple days. The snows and cold winds have finally found their way to Toronto, and my mittens, socks, hats, and scarves, have made all the difference to my normally frozen toes and fingers. I’ve also been pretty pleased with my assortment of fingerless gloves while at work. They keep my hands warm when I need to use my fingers.
I’ve been pressed to get all my hats done for Christmas, and I’ve finally finished the second Windschief by Stephen West. I still have four left to go. I finished this last one while at work. As a supply teacher, I’ve begun to find myself with periods of time with nothing to do, so yesterday I braved the possibility of scowls, and brought out my knitting to get the hat done. One gentleman, who I generally like, asked me if I was expecting children. At first I was confused. I took the comment in the context I was in. I thought he was asking me if I was expecting the students to come to class.
Then it dawned on me, he was asking if I was pregnant, because I was knitting. Something about knitting apparently screamed expectant motherhood to him. He did tell me he was only teasing, but probably only because I might not have been able to completely conceal my aghast and slightly miffed reaction. That brought me to thinking about knitting stereotypes, which I think that every young contemporary knitting enthusiast probably reflects on at one point or another.
I used to get teased a bit about my knitting habits by my friends and family, and sometimes I was called a granny, but all mostly in jest. Most people my age or my parents age, that discover that I made the mittens, or socks, or hats, or scarves that I wore, usually think it’s odd, but unique that I can create something.
My family, (read mother), used to get annoyed by my habit of spending money on wool, or spending time knitting rather than writing my essays. Now I’ve found, that instead of being an oddity, it’s turning into a commodity. I am not making money from this, but I have been able to put time and effort into creating gifts for other people. Friends of mine now ask me if I could make them a (fill in the blank), or my mother asks me to make all sorts of things, (hats at present.) It’s a change from the old reaction that knitting was for old ladies.
I love how much knitting is not for old ladies anymore. Many of the amazing patterns kicking about are not designed by grannies; young and talented male and female designers create them.  I was very happy the other day, while supply teaching, when I spotted a very much hand knit scarf and fingerless glove set on one of the students.

Hatitude…and other things

This week has been sort of exciting for me…in non-knitting related matters. Let’s just say that I’m now beginning to see those fantastic dollar signs at the end of the tunnel, which follow the beginnings of one’s career choices. Hurray! All those years at University look as if they will eventually pay off. I’m day dreaming about all the glorious fibres I will be able to buy and turn into fantastic accessories and garments for friends and family, (and more selfishly…myself.) Unfortunately, not in time for this Christmas, there are not enough day left, and I’m still fighting to get the Christmas Hat Collection finished.

There was one pattern that was especially frustrating to me…not that it was difficult, but I can’t decide whether I didn’t find it interesting enough to knit, or didn’t like the choice of yarn I had used for the pattern, or if it was something else entirely. I was knitting using Mirasol Yarn Akapana, which is a Llama and Merino Tweed. I had chosen an army green colour, because I’ve seen Laura wear it before, and I really loved the feel and texture of the yarn, just not in the pattern I was knitting. So…I frogged the whole thing a few days ago…and did what over a thousand other people on Ravelry have done, and made Jared Flood’s Habitat in two days. I must say that I found it to be a super fun and interesting knit. I love cables, and with the tweedy goodness, I think it turned out perfectly.

I love it; my father loves it. My mother seems iffy, but I justify that her iffiness is not due to my lack of knitting skill or the lack of awesomeness of the pattern (because it is spectacular and I really want to make one for myself…or two…or…you get the point,) but if you remember my previous post, she was the one who chose the hat pattern I originally tried to knit. I think she is just a little disappointed.

I’ve posted some pictures of the hat here, modeled by the nonfunctional antique clock in the guest bedroom, because I have yet to master the skill of modeling and shooting simultaneously, and just don’t have plethera of willing models running around.