Monday, March 07, 2005

A Sad Sweater Story

In 2003, I designed an Aran sweater from scratch for my dad. It was to be a Christmas present. I had lots of fun making swatches and playing with different cable combinations- I did each cable as a separate swatch so I could move them around and try them in different orders. I settled on a grouping that I liked, graphed the combined cable pattern, and did all the calculations for a bottom-up raglan sweater knit seamlessly in the round. It was a great learning excercise in garment construction. I knit the sweater and finished it in time to enter it in the 2003 County Fair. I was delighted when it won not only a blue ribbon, but the People's Choice Award.

I was very proud of myself, not only because I really liked the cable combination:

and the way all the cables came together at the shoulder:

but because I had done it completely myself. (Except for coming up with the big cable patterns- those were from Barbara Walker's books.) I calculated the raglan decreases, the neck shaping, the sleeve shaping, and worked the cables into the decreases. It was a new and totally unique garment. Hooray for me!

Except it didn't fit. The armholes weren't deep enough, and the cuffs were too tight, though the circumference of the body was fine. I sat on this problem for over a year (and incidentally had a baby, so I wasn't busy or anything). I debated leaving it as is and knitting a new sweater for Dad. The armhole and cuffs fit me fine, after all. I liked the color, and don't have any other sweaters like this. I could just keep it. So I tried it on again last night and asked Shaun how it looked, if it was too big. He said "Yes." That was the wrong answer so I asked again, "It really looks too big on me?" He said "Yes, it looks sloppy."

All right, so I knew that was really true, I just didn't want to admit it. Yesterday I bit the bullet. My beautiful sweater now looks like this:

I do have enough yarn to reknit it in a larger size, but man, it hurt to rip all that out!


Cassie said...

It took an incredible amount of ... character to be honest with yourself and rip out something that just wasn't right. Good for you, and you'll be thrilled when its something your dad can wear and enjoy.

It made me think of my grandmother's technique for sweater knitting: every year she'd knit a sweater and at Christmas, whomever it fit was gifted with it. A neat way of sidestepping fitting issues, but not very practical for gifting specific people.

Good luck with the re-knit!

Amie said...

OMG. I'm hurting for you.

It was BEAUTIFULLY knit, and looked fantastic - on the hanger.

But all that means is that you have those skills, and can do it again, this time better.

God speed.

CrazyFiberLady said...

Oh Amie, I feel for you! That sweater was gorgeous. You should be very proud of your accomplishments in knitting that up. How it must have hurt to rip it out but kudos for facing facts. The next one will be even better!

A belated thanks for posting the scrapbooking pages. Lovely. I too like the more simple pages that lean more heavily to the actual picture. This isn't to denigrate those that do more advanced stuff (my sister for one). I just choose to knit/spin instead and am content to get pictures in and labeled. You've done that in a very visually appealing way.

CrazyFiberLady said...

D'oh. Sue! Sorry. I saw Amie's comment above mine as I was typing. I had a lame brain moment. Sorry! I'm crawling back under the database rock that I've been hiding under for the last couple of days...

Suz said...

O-M-G That sweater was the most gorgeous, but everyone is right, you can make another gorgeous sweater for your dad because you have the skills and you are so good :)

I am so jealous of your skills! I'm killing myself just trying to figure out how to do a simple cable :)

Liz said...

That *was* an incredibly gorgeous sweater, but it's no good to anyone if it doesn't fit. Have fun knitting its replacement. :)

marti said...

I hate it when that happens, but you will do a great job on the next one. No doubt you learned quite a bit from the experience as well. good luck!