To be or not to be: sweater edition

I mentioned recently that I had started knitting a sweater for Dean. To get to that point, we spent hours deciding exactly what kind of sweater it was going to be. If you’ve ever searched for a women’s sweater pattern, this probably doesn’t surprise you, as wading through all the options to find the perfect match can be quite a task. In the not-so-wide world of men’s sweater patterns, the intersection of patterns I was willing to knit and garments Dean thought he would like to wear turned out to include approximately three sweaters.

And then, because Dean is advanced in the art of The Proper Way to Receive a Knitted Gift, he let me make the final choice. I selected Sawyer, a thermal-textured henley style, and elected the classic opening move of the not-entirely-confident knitter, which is to cast on a sleeve first. I knit merrily along for a week and a half, pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it seemed to be going and how much I liked the fabric.

But as I neared the top of the sleeve, I was pulling out my tape measure more and more frequently. When I reached the beginning of the shoulder shaping, I couldn’t take it anymore so I put all the stitches on a long cable and threw it in the sink for a wet block. The length was good but as I suspected, it was too wide. Which was disappointing but not shocking. I figured I would give it a day to settle into its final size and then do some math and figure out what I could salvage and how I needed to adjust for the rest of the sweater.

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But maddeningly, when I returned I couldn’t get a consistent stitch gauge read, like this fabric just couldn’t figure out how wide it wanted to be. This was not confidence-inspiring. In the list of ways this is most likely to become a permanent closet-dweller, too short and too wide are right at the top. I gave it a little more time and then sat down to do the math. And instead decided that I couldn’t spend the next couple months knitting a sweater not knowing what shape it was going to be at the end.

Which explains how it is that after nearly two weeks of knitting on this sweater, I have about six inches of a sleeve to show for it:

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So far so good on pattern number two.

On a possibly related note, one of my favorite sweaters recently wore through a thread on the cuff. I’ve been meaning to mend it for a couple weeks but couldn’t quite wrap my head around how to do so. And then this afternoon, it clicked.

DSC_3701So I picked out the whole cast-on, picking up the live stitches and then bound them off with some leftover yarn. There’s something really thrilling to me about seeing a finished garment back on the needles years later, evidence of how endlessly malleable hand knits are. It’s not a perfectly invisible fix because I was working in the opposite direction but I have to admit I like it a little better for the imperfection, like it’s earned a scar or two.

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