Fiber Craft

Best Laid Plans of Mice and Knitters

It started out innocently enough, as tales of folly usually do: my son was growing out of his current hand-knit sweater, and I wanted to make another one.

Step one: find a pattern. Check.

Step two: buy find yarn.

Searching my attic for the yarn I’ve hidden so no one knows how much I really have, not even me, I find a bag full of some nice Berroco Vintage – it’s an acrylic wool blend so it’s washable, which is a non-negotiable requirement of any baby sweater. I love the idea of dressing my kids in only natural fibers but in the case of a one-year-old with a habit of using banana as a hair gel, we are waiting until he’s a bit older for the nice stuff.

But I digress.

Only problem: there isn’t enough of any one color to do the entire sweater. Okay, not a problem, I’ll just use two colors! A lovely navy for the body and sleeves, and soft grey for the cuffs and collar. Pleased with my ingenuity, I get to the casting on and finally start knitting!

Knitting cuffs two-up like I know what I’m doing.

So… here’s the thing: I didn’t actually measure or weigh the yarn. I just jumped in with both feet, trusting in the knitting universe that it will all end up okay. It’s just a baby sweater! These things are tiny, how much yarn could it really need? How long could this take?

My hubris apparently got the attention of the knitting deities, because after getting well into the sweater and casting on the sleeves, the first smiting struck: I was going to run out of navy before finishing the sleeves. No problem! This is fine, I’ll just adjust the sleeve length, they don’t need to be so long anyway.

I ripped the knitting back and started again. Nope, still losing yarn roulette and coming up short with the navy. This is still fine, FINE, I tell you – I’ll just make the sleeves thinner then! Rip back, knit again. NOPE. I knit these sleeves three times in navy and could not get them to work. I had to admit defeat and the Crafty Council suggests I make the sleeves grey with navy cuffs. This I can do. I still have plenty of grey. I hope.

Second smiting came in the form of kittens (they really are the incarnation of chaos). I leave my knitting for maybe five minutes and come back to find my yarn ball… rearranged. Rather thoroughly, too. Untangling the yarn barf set me back at least a week, and I was reminded that I’m lucky a swear jar isn’t a thing in my house.

Yarn in barf form.

Aha! Progress! I finish the sleeves, and I am smug at outsmarting my knitting.

Who’s a pretty sleeve?

Now that the sleeves are complete, it’s time for assembly! Now that I have used up a considerable amount of grey and have the not-enough-for-sleeves-but-still-a-bunch navy, I decide to use the navy to attach the sleeves to the body of the sweater. A lot of people don’t like this step, but I sort of love mattress stitch – it pleases the fastidious and tidy part of me.

Ah, the comfort of a world in order. Or at least my seams.

I manage to attach the sleeves without fuss, and I think that I’m in the clear. Alas, in my self-satisfaction, I forget that smiting always comes in threes. I continue to make and attach the button bands in content oblivion.

That grey bobble is totally going to be enough for the collar.

Okay, last piece to finish: the collar! I’ll just take this last bit of grey and kn… OH COME ON.

The collar needs three rows, plus a bind off. The grey lasts for two. I could work with that, but there still isn’t enough to bind off. Touché, knitting gods, touché.

I rip back, yet again, to add some navy and finish off the collar. Only needs buttons and then I can pretend that my misadventure was actual intentional design choices. Ever hear of “knitter’s prerogative? “Yeah, that’s code for “I totally didn’t mean for it to happen but I wasn’t going to fix it because it was a PITA so I’m going to pretend I did it on purpose.”

Next step: buttons and wine.

Once buttons are added, I block the sweater. Wary of angering any more knitting divinity, I am careful and gentle. After it dries, I hold my breath as I wrangle the baby to try it on. The gods smile upon me and it’s not too small! It’s even CUTE!

The sweater now begins its lifelong battle to survive banana face-masks and the washing machine. Good luck and godspeed.

What did I learn? I should actually count yardage before a project and apparently my perseverance is strongest when I’m righteously indignant. Other knitters have tags to go on their hand-knits that say “Made With Love” or “Handmade Just For You.” I need tags that say “Handmade In Spite of Itself.” I’m sure I’m not the only one – if I ever get around to making them, let me know if you fellow makers need any! *wink*

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