Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cynthia writes:

This fall, I discovered a mistake in a raglan sweater I had started in the summer. I noticed it only after the front was finished. As I made the last bind-off stitch, the front suddenly seemed small .... very small indeed.

First phase of denial: Was it really small, or was it really okay? I held it up to myself, and I decided that it might fit ... but only if I were to stretch it out real hard.

This didn't compute. I was sure I had planned for this sweater to be roomy and comfortable. I had dutifully made my gauge swatch. I always swatch.

I put it away in disgust. Five minutes later, I couldn't stand it. I pulled out both the front and the back to see if they were different. They sure were--by over 4 inches:

Second phase of denial: Can I just sew them together anyway? That phase flew by and went out the window within a half a second.

Clearly something had gone wrong.

But what? To figure it out, I remeasured gauge on both of them. It was the same. Then I counted stitches. The back had 87, and the front had 67. I had no idea why the large discrepancy (I always double or triple count my cast-on row), but there was only one solution: rip and reknit the front. I did that.

Then I came to the sleeves. Before I had started the front, I had already knit both of them, and had stopped at the armholes (read: most of the way finished), figuring I'd get back to them. I had been proud of myself for working on the sleeves early in the process, so that I would not to have another vest sitting around.

Okay, sure, the sleeve had always seemed a little tight....

...barely able to fit around my wrist.... but I kept knitting them.

You guessed it. Too few stitches again. I had to rip and reknit both sleeves too.

Then I looked at the pattern. The problem, it turned out, was that I had followed the instructions for the "chunky-weight" when I knit the front and sleeves. I was using worsted-weight yarn. Therefore, I was casting on too few stitches.

And so I ripped and reknit both sleeves. The yarn was wonderful, and while it was a bit of a bummer to reknit almost the entire sweater, I still loved working on it. In the end, it was all worth it: I had a new, beautiful sweater made out of Southwest Trading Company's Karaoke.

Despite my experience, I highly recommend this great little Oat Couture pattern. (It's not their fault that I didn't read.) It's an easy, quick knit that looks great. I added a little crocheted edge around the neck to finish it off, but otherwise, I followed the pattern exactly. (The second time.)

Why do people have unfinished objects laying around the house? The reason is almost always that they have a sticking point: Things are going wrong, and you need to fix them, but you don't know how, or you don't want to.

Part of the secret of finishing what you started is simply to take a deep breath and persist through the ripping and redoing. It happens to everyone.

Need help figuring out where you went wrong? That's why we're at the shop. We're happy to help cheer you through that slogging stage. And to help you end up with something you love.

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