I always hated buttonbands.

It’s not all sunshine and roses everyday at Chez Harlot, and yesterday (which should really have been a triumphant day, a brilliant return to all things adult and wage earning) I was felled by an uncharacteristic headache and the rigours of parenting teen daughters, neither or which has much to recommend it. I did the only thing I could do, I tried to keep my cool, I fussed with the tinks sweaters, and at some point the parallels between this phase of parenting and this phase of sweaters hit me.

Tinksswwhp

I have decided that I liked being a mother better when I was in charge and everything was simple. Back when all I had to do to be quite sure I was doing it right was to nurse them, read them books and keep them from sticking forks into electrical sockets. Bonus points for going to the park and making homemade muffins with grated carrots in them. The rules were very clear.

Ditto the body of the sweaters…cast on the right number of stitches, check for gauge, follow the chart. Keep an eye out for glaring mistakes, fix them as best as you can and keep going. I’m not going to say that this phase of sweater and child were easy, (I’m glossing over the part where you do this on 2 hours of sleep or breathe your way through the 43rd tantrum of the day or run out of yarn mid sleeve. ) but both parenting and sweater knitting are, at this phase, about endurance and patience.

Then, suddenly…the whole thing changes. Suddenly, both knitting a sweater and parenting are a lot harder. Right out of the blue, without a word of warning (except perhaps the twisted screams of every single person who has ever parented a teenager since the dawn of time) Suddenly, this phase is about all kinds of scary, scary stuff. The finishing.

Sweaterparst1

All of a sudden you’re doing things that are serious. Really serious. Cutting steeks. Signing permission slips to go to New York. Things that can’t be taken back if you screw them up and misjudge. There’s no fixing a sleeve steek you cut 3cm too long, and I don’t know how I would forgive myself if my kid wound up in a dangerous place because I botched the situation. Suddenly, the practice of both activities is about nerve, judgment and enormous leaps of faith. A firm inner belief that your child is a decent person with some sense, and an equivalent belief that steeks don’t unravel into a heap of crap when you take scissors to them.

Buttonbface

Then, before you’ve recovered from the shock of it all, there’s a new thing. The sweater/kid finishing is a different thing again. Now you’re picking up stitches, knitting facings to cover raw edges, massaging a basically good sweater into a great sweater by working on the details.

This is not simple. You can’t just haul off and knit a button band, any more than you can rip off an arbitrary curfew for your teen. Button bands need to be just so. Too long and they gape, too short and they pull inward. There’s a finesse here. A really great sweater can be ruined with crappy finishing. Attention to detail is everything, and the insides matter as much as the outsides.

Facingslts

Same with the daughters. Too much freedom and they could wind up in a situation that they don’t have the experience to manage. Too little freedom and I run the risk of not allowing them to gain more experience, or worse…I take a basically good kid and force them to behave badly to untie themselves from my wicked tight apron strings.

The word of the day, the word of everyday, is “negotiation”. You can’t just haul off and pick up the neckband. You need to read the gauge, you need to think things over. You need to decide how much each individual stitch matters and pace yourself. You can’t get all hung up on one itty bitty stitch when the other 99 are perfect.

This part of the sweater isn’t about endurance. It’s about fussing.

Pickingupneckts

In the end nothing is ever going to be absolutely 100% perfect. Not kids, not sweaters, not parents. You just do your level best with your goal in mind, the kind of thing you would like to end up with. There’s no going back to the perfectly clear chart. No instructions good enough, and the time when you knew if everything was ok is gone. You’re not going to know for sure if you were right about the button bands until the sweater comes off the needles and graduates from University and becomes an adult and makes great decisions, and until then you just can’t take it personally when the sweater tells you that you’re ruining it’s life with your overbearing knitting and maybe, just maybe you should “chill out” while you finish the sweater and trust that the sweater doesn’t really hate everything about you and all that you hold dear and that buying the sweater a cellphone so you can call it whenever you want and bug it while it’s out doing absolutely nothing wrong while you worry that all of that time that you breastfed the sweater counted for absolutely nothing and hope, quietly and with as much dignity is left to you, that the sweater really doesn’t think that you are a horrible person just because you won’t let it date skanky skeins of polyester and break all of the rules that you set up just to avoid worrying about the sweater while you think about what you did when you were a teenager and hope that nobody has figured out any of that stuff and, and…

Sorry. I think I’ll go spin now. No buttonbands.

255 thoughts on “I always hated buttonbands.

  1. Very true – but you can frog a button band, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to “frog” my son!
    Kathleen

  2. how wise you are. i have a 17month old daughter, and Im already freaking out! beautiful sweater, maybe one day I’ll be able to create such a piece!

  3. Very wise words from a wise momma/knitter! I love the analogy =)
    Good luck with the sweater, and the parenting! LOL!

  4. Don’t worry, Steph… one day the sweater will grow up, be living out on its own in the world, and realize that a) you know more than she thought you knew, b) that the sweater is becoming more and more like you everyday, and c) that that’s not such a bad thing after all.
    Sweaters are resilient. And any mom who’s a knitter can’t be all bad… and hey, there’s always therapy to deal with that “just one more row” memory from childhood.

  5. First, I loved your blog. Then, I loved your knitting. Now, after this post, I think I may even love you.
    I have two children, one is a month shy of 10 and the other is 5 going on 30. I’m going to keep this post in mind when they hit their teens and I start hitting the bottle … I mean, dealing with the stress with grace and dignity.

  6. My daughter is four now and I’m about eight or nine years old as a knitter. I’ve grown a lot since the beginning – and that’s what it’s all about anyhow, right? Growth. I was afraid of sweaters back then and now I want to make a Fair Isle cardigan for my little one. I’m still learning quite a bit about how to be a grownup and how to be good at it and the same goes for my knitting. All the while, I’m teaching my little one how to grow up
    …and how to knit.

  7. As one whose oldest is almost 20 and whose youngest is 4 (with 5 in between), I’d have to say that on the whole, the sweater finishing is way easier. I mean, it’s inanimate. It can’t complain about how you just don’t understand it and about how all the other sweaters are getting to do the very thing that you won’t let your sweaters do! Or about how, thanks to your rules, it always looks different from the other sweaters and is ridiculed as a result.
    On the other hand, I have to admit, the sweater can’t give you grandchildren some day or take care of you in your old age!

  8. God don’t make no junque….and….In the process of Becoming we must make our own mistakes.

  9. Wonderfully put. You’ll have to print this post out, frame it and hands it to your daughters on their wedding day or when they have a child of their own.

  10. There is something completely comforting in hearing another “knitter” complain about the way their “sweaters” chafe at the rules! It truly is universal.
    Uh . . . just to let you know, graduating university doesn’t put an end to the worrying and conflict about the decisions said sweater is making either. Don’t know how comforting that is, but I thought you might like a heads-up.

  11. Amazing! The parallels to knitting a sweater and raising a child. Your blog had me in the grip of stark FEAR, while I recalled how harrowing it had been…thank god my “sweater” is finished. Only the one and he’s, OMG, he’s 30-something now. He is gainfully employed, not a drug addict or criminal of any kind and has a heart of gold.
    Your sweater is gorgeous and I really think that all the effort you put into your “knitting” will show in the end, when the “sweaters” are adults. Wish I had some words of wisdom to offer, but in my case I think it was more serendipity that my sweater turned out quite well. Take care.

  12. the sweater also cant share its illnesses with you.
    but the sweater like your daughters is beautiful.
    stephanie as always you are insightful funny and a wonderful knitter.
    your daughters dont hate you – but the hormones do;)

  13. Woah. I can’t decide which you need more, a stiff drink or a big hug. Go spin gansey yarn.

  14. Steph, a wonderful analogy. The good news is that you are getting perilously close to the point where the sweaters — er, daughters — will look back at their behavior and ask you why you didn’t kill them. Trust me — it does happen. My particular sweater –er, son — is preparing to take the patent bar exam in the US. Patent bar! That gives regular lawyers a migraine, and he is having fun! Did I do something wrong?!
    Carol

  15. Loved your metaphor between the tricky aspects of knitting and the incredibly difficult task of parenting teenagers– a demanding job!
    As a high school teacher for 25 years,and the parent of a former teen, I’ve found that dealing with their attitudes and moods can be a real challenge. A “one day at a time” approach works well, especially when they start rolling their eyes and going “WHAT–evah!”
    Because they want so badly to be grown-up, I’ve found that saying things such as, “I trust you to use mature judgement, now that you’re getting older” helps them (sometimes) to make reasonable decisions. You’re a great Mom! Hang in there. πŸ™‚

  16. Your little quiet corner to yourself if making you think WAY TOO MUCH. You better go spin now, it’s Tuesday.

  17. Stephanie,
    You have summed it up beautifully. You only know you did OK when your kid who now speaks quite fluent Spanish can take you all around Madrid on the subway; will buy yarn for you in a store where you have to buy the yarn in hundred gram skeins with no idea about how many meters that is; treat you to a Real Madrid soccer match for Christmas (and know that you will be happy with that); can give you a educated tour of the Prado; is described in glowing terms by his professors; and states, when you say you are not going to finish a 52 inch necktie knit on size two needles in linen stitch, do you know how many things I would have quit if you had let me. But he can do those things because you gave him a grounding so that he could have wings. Kids don’t know you are making it up as you go along when they are babies, but they seem to know that when you get older.

  18. I have spent each “phase” of my childrens’ lives thinking “this is the hard part. I think I’m finally getting the fact that its all hard while you’re in it – different, but hard. Sometimes you have to just go spin.

  19. Brillant! There is a reason that people pay you to write books.
    I have a friend with a 10-week old colicky baby. She screams at least three hours every evening before bed and then some more overnight.
    Surprisingly, her stories and yours are not making me regret my decision to stop taking birth control. πŸ˜‰
    *hugs*

  20. I’d love to have you as *my* mom, if that helps!
    Such a great post. I lurk all the time, but had to write and say thanks for putting into words what many of us feel. Having only one “sweater,” he gets all of my mistakes and none of the benefit of experience. But, he also gets a beginner’s enthusiasm and hopefully a little beginner’s luck.

  21. You just do the best job you can. You can’t keep them at home or unknitted forever. The pattern has to be worked for the design to bloom. You’ll be fine, Stephanie. The girls will be fine. The sweaters will be fine. Have faith.
    And pray a lot too πŸ™‚

  22. …and worrying when/if the sweater is going to pill…
    Your poor nerves must be strung out finer than steel wool.

  23. Wisdom to live by (from The Dead Dog Cafe Comedy Hour): “Stay calm, be brave, wait for the signs” because they will grow up and spend a year working in the Middle East, do a four year double honours degree in three and start work entirely out of their field of study (and language of birth) leaving the rest of their lives in 5 boxes in your basement. Trust me on this!! Knit on!!

  24. Stephanie –
    Hang in there. Remember when you were a teenager? Everyone between about 11 and 21 is really, actually, clinically insane. It’s the hormones and just part of growing up. Have faith. Don’t worry too much. All of you will come out the other side, without unraveling.

  25. Yes! I have two teenagers and I feel your pain. Just keep telling yourself “I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy.” As with knitting, sometimes you just have to put it/them down, walk out of the room and face it/them again in the morning when you’re head has cleared.

  26. My oldest “sweater” made it thru Afghanistan, Ranger school, marrying young, and is finally graduating from college in the spring. The next one has studied tropical bio (and beer) in Costa Rica, made bio fuels in Africa last summer, and traipsed all over Europe for 2 mths after she graduated from the U in Dec and is putting out resumes while she lives in the basement with $12 to her name. 3rd one is in Fla with her college lacrosse team (and probably a fake ID). 2 more in HS, one in grade 6 and a 5yr old (who already says “you’re ruining my life” as she runs to her room to slam the door and sob into the pillow). I’ll take a side of button band with that, hold the steeks! And remember, a sweater may keep you warm but it doesn’t hug you and whisper “I love you and I’m sorry I yelled at you”.

  27. Beautifully written. As the mom of a 7 year old, I can now see my future, tinged with what I remember about my own teenage years. GAK!! I think I will attempt steeks – they seem less scary now when put into this context…

  28. I have two questions. The first one is about sweaters: if you’re not using the steek method (which admittedly you are, so OK, this is somewhat tangential to your post, but please bear with me), why would you not just knit the button band at the same time as the rest of the sweater? Why all the fiddly stuff about picking up 3 sts for every 4, or is it 4 for every 3, and so on? The mystery of picking up sts is a major part of my sweaterphobia.
    The second one is: would it be OK to make my 9-year-old swallow a GPS?

  29. If it’s any comfort, I gave my mother more than her fair share of panic attacks, did some pretty stupid stuff…and I think I came out pretty good. You will survive this. You are a wonderful mother, and you have three wonderful girls. It. Will. Be. OKAY.

  30. What an incredible piece of writing. Wow. Yes, I agree – motherhood is easier when you know where they are and when you are in charge. I worry about those teenage years ahead of me with my 3. But I look at the yarn you are knitting with, and I see how strong and enduringly beautiful it is. You are taking your time and not rushing it too much, pacing yourself. That sweater is going to last a long time.

  31. OMG, that is the reason I prayed for a boy. Because I vaguely remember angering my mother so very deeply, on as many occasions as I could, and that was just the stuff I did on purpose, not the stuff that was angering/annoying just because I was a hormonal teenaged girl. As it is, I have a lot of karma to burn off. I can only hope my Tink is nicer to me than I was to my Knitters.

  32. What an interesting analogy. My daughter becomes an official “teenager” in just 6 days! I’m so freaked out! Which part of the “sweater” do you think that is?

  33. Sounds like the beginnings of a new book. πŸ™‚ And I just want you to know how scared I am that I have a 3 year old daughter and another daughter soon to be born. I’m in for a rough ride, aren’t I? Especially if their teen years are anything like mine and my husband’s….eek! Maybe I’ll try steeks before I tackle teens.

  34. I am almost 52 freakin’ years old and STILL have let-down reflex. Depressing, non? Our sweaters, um, daughters, are 23, 21 and 18 1/2 and are doing great. Me, I’m starting to look my age.

  35. I so feel your pain. My sweaters–um, children, are teens now and I’m knitting them the best way I can. That’s all any of us can do!

  36. I was just reading the extended analogy about the three baby blankets and each of your kids in your book last night! This teenager/sweater is another great one. Especially for teenage girls, I dread having a girl for fear she’ll put me through what I put my mom through. Shudder. I wish you strength and plenty of knitting time.

  37. My mom loves you and doesn’t even know you exist! This is because every time I read a post that has to do with your kids it makes me want to call her and tell her I love her and that she’s wonderful. Oh, and then we talk about knitting. (We’re in a childish battle over who can make the best baby blanket for my sister’s current fetus the fastest, but I think I got a let up by making another blanket for the 3 year old hunk of adorable she already has. Good grief, I’m 25, she’s 57, and we’re acting like a couple of jealous 8 year olds, sheesh!) Thank you for teaching me about knitting and reminding me to call my mom!

  38. Well-crafted indeed. And by not worrying about buttonbands today, you’ll make Rams very happy. No stashweasels for you today!

  39. Loved your metaphor between the tricky aspects of knitting and the incredibly difficult task of parenting teenagers– a demanding job!
    As a high school teacher for 25 years,and the parent of a former teen, I’ve found that dealing with their attitudes and moods can be a real challenge. A “one day at a time” approach works well, especially when they start rolling their eyes and going “WHAT–evah!”
    Because they want so badly to be grown-up, I’ve found that saying things such as, “I trust you to use mature judgement, now that you’re getting older” helps them (sometimes) to make reasonable decisions. You’re a great Mom! Hang in there. πŸ™‚

  40. You make me wish I had a daughter. My son is in the “teenage angst” years and he’s only 7…I got a lot of knitting to do to keep my mind off of that!
    And I wish I had your fair isle talents…Off to dreaming about colorwork!

  41. Lovely post, Stephanie. You’ve given your girls a marvelous example to follow, and they (and the Tinks’ sweaters) will turn out just fine.

  42. I was already a bit weepy when I got to your post today…I had just received a birth announcement, complete with photo of the brand spankin’ new little life with the obligatory hospital-issue hat. I was thinking about how simple it was then–not easy, just simple. You nursed, changed diapers, nursed, walked around bouncing and singing, nursed and slept a little.
    Now, my little sweaters are almost 10 and 6. And they are complicated, not hard, just complicated.

  43. Gotta love a good metaphor-mixer. (I’m picturing your sweater, stashed back in the knitting bag, whispering to its friends back in the stash on its new cell phone. “It’s just as dark as it was there, and it’s kind of cramped, and on, what a headache I’ve got from the, the, scissors….”) But really, the metaphor is golden. Especially to us knitters. I think I’m glad, though, at the moment, that my only “child” is my dog! (And that he’s almost 5 and well past adolescence now.)

  44. Whew! I’m glad I don’t have any girl sweaters!
    Maybe you should go have a lie-down? And a glass of Screech? Hmm?

  45. This hit home to me
    “In the end nothing is ever going to be absolutely 100% perfect. Not kids, not sweaters, not parents. You just do your level best with your goal in mind, the kind of thing you would like to end up with. ”
    Even now, when he’s only 18 months, I feel that way. How will I know? What if I do something wrong, will it scar him for life? AHHHH!
    I have to just do my best!

  46. Breathe in…. breathe out. Repeat after me – the child/sweater are just great and I am NOT ruining them. All the work that has been put into them are about to pay off as a great finished item. Might be room for improvement, but then, there always is….

  47. Great analogy as I watch my 13 year old turn into a man and my knitting turn into what I hope will look like Inishmore. πŸ™‚

  48. They grow up. they live thier own lives. and you realize that’s what it was all supposed to be about. But as someone said, you never stop wondering if you “Sweater” is alright and did you do it right.
    And you hope for grand”sweaters” where you get all the fun you missed with your knitting work the first time around!
    Alice

  49. Major. Panic. Attack. You had me hyperventilating! Seems like a good bottle of merlot is in order…

  50. My four “sweaters” range in age from 39 to 47 now, but I frequently remark that nobody ever told me that motherhood was a life sentence! But hang in there, Steph–some day your teenage “sweaters” will have their own teenagers and you can feel their pain. And you’ll realize that there is, indeed, a God! (My oldest grandson got stopped by the police on his way home from paying a court fine from his earlier police stop–and I absolutely LOVED it!)

  51. Hang in there Stephanie! They grow up, and like me, realize that mom is really awsome, not the bossy person I envisioned when I was 13 [or 17]. Boy, am I glad I get to leave my high schoolers at school when the day ends [I’m a substitute teacher, no kids yet]. Just be glad they don’t have to be at home with you all day now that school is back in session. Good luck!
    PS- can’t wait until I can try fair isle! The sweaters look great.

  52. My daughter is 20, almost 21, and she’s human. Thank God, we both survived the teen years. It was touch and go for quite a while and there were days when it was a miracle that both of us still breathed. I thought my head would explode. “What-ever!” “Fine!” Do you have any idea how many things “fine” can mean? Just think about it.
    Well, now she’s a junior at university and supporting herself and going gang-busters for a BA *and* an MA in physics at the same time. She calls frequently, never asking for money. She’s a knitter during school breaks when there’s time (and she knits like the wind). My God, we’re out the other end of the tunnel and SHE’S FINE!! She’s a wonderful, decent, conscientious human being.
    Keep going, doing the next right thing, and remember that the light at the end of the tunnel can be the best sunniest day in the world.

  53. Oh, this is brilliant. Though I have to say, a less-than-gorgeous sweater, you just put in a drawer–or frog, as someone else said–and get on with it. On the other hand, so far it’s seeming like there are plenty of opportunities for do-overs with the kids (currently 16 and 8) as well. One thing knitting has taught me, truly, is that you get second chances with almost everything. It’s very freeing. (I’m also not a very good knitter, but that’s not the point, is it?)

  54. It’s not so much that you, your daughters, WILL be fine, you and your daughters ARE fine. Yes, it feels crazy, some days more than others, o’well. Life is always sane?!?

  55. Four kids, 18 to almost 24 here. My oldest girl at 16 once had a day where she just let me have all her insecurities at once with every vile thing she could think of to spew. It was one of those moments where I did it just right: I looked at her and with a loving smile on my face, responded, “I take that as a compliment. If you did not know that I absolutely and unconditionally love you, you would never have dared say such a thing to me.”
    She stomped off into her room and slammed the door, reappearing two hours later a complete angel. Never said another word about it. Except, her first semester away at college, she called me out of the blue. Just to apologize for all the ways she’d been a brat growing up. Brat? You weren’t a brat! You’re a wonderful child, always have been!
    And I got off the phone chuckling a good one.

  56. AS a mom of 2 girls 10 and almost 14 ( I HATE hormones!), I keep telling myself that it’s a way different world than we had at their age. If they make it to 21 without having a drinking or drug problem, getting pregnant or arrested, making it through unscarred from rape, drunk driving, sexual harrasment, or an overdose and not in need of serious emotional therapy due to me or my hubby, relationships, friends or a major life event, then I have done a good job navigating them through the landmines of the early 21st century. Ask me in 2017.

  57. I have always enjoyed your bog but this post was extra-special. My older daughter is 10, just approaching her teens in so many ways and I’m not at all ready for it. I’ll hold this post somewhere special and I’m sure that I’ll enjoy it for many years to come.

  58. My dearest woman. As a 30.5-year-old, let me tell you about a wonderful character trait I picked up when I was about 23 or so. It’s called gratitude. Until that moment (and I learn more about this every day) I had never known what my parents bore, sacrificed, endured and lived with so that I could come out of my crap teen years with something like dignity, integrity and the ability to feed and clothe myself. It’s monumental. I have no kids, but knowing what my parents went through with my brother and I, I know that it’s a super-human task that endures for the rest of your child’s life and eventually your child will have just an inkling of what you’ve done. And they’ll say “thank you”. I promise.

  59. I am a mom to a young child and another on the way and I work with teens. I love your comparison of sweaters to parenting!

  60. Oh the knitwear can give a girl a lot of gray hair, can’t it? I remember the day I read that a difficult toddlerhood can be a predictor of a difficult adolescence. I think I cried. I have an idea of what I’m in for.
    Maybe this is why I frequently deep-six my sweaters when they’re 99% complete. I suppose that doesn’t work for teens. Too bad I’m philosophically opposed to military school, huh. Nice to have an ace in the hole. πŸ˜‰

  61. Ah such is life-with-kids … you never stop worrying, but it does get better … they’ll suddenly realize you got “a whole lot smarter” by the time they get back from University [or have their own little sweater.] Hang in there!

  62. As the mother of 21, 18 and 14 year old sweaters, I can empathize. What I’ve learned is that although when you start out with your yarn and sticks (or baby) you think you know how its all going to turn out…but that sometimes yarn and children turn out in ways you never thought possible. The hardest thing is to let them go make their own mistakes. But sometimes you realize that what you wanted for your yarn/child doesn’t fit them, and what they choose for themselves is better. And sometimes? Sometimes is just best not to know what the yarn/child is doing at all!

  63. Amen to that Steph. Good job about the mobile and ban on skanky skeins of polyester, because that’s always important.
    But the kids’ll be really cool. And the sweater will be equally awesome. Don’t worry.

  64. I have a two-year-old, and the tantrums really do require deep-breathing, but what you describe sounds scarier.
    I read your blog every day, and I have always been impressed with your humor and compassion. With traits like this as a model, your girls are going to be fine. They will make their own mistakes, but they will be good people. Maybe it doesn’t help take the teeth-stinging edge off the worry, as you take each day at a time, but I think in the long run, things will be okay. Hang in there.

  65. “Skanky skeins of polyester”… I love it. Great blog posts are also about attention to detail & solid construction: this is definitely one of them.

  66. Oh, all my sweaters are getting big, too! It’s an emotional day, so I’m laughing through the tears. That’s a great post, Steph.

  67. Thanks. I just had a soul-testing argument with my 15 year old daughter and wanted to scream “Because I get to make the rules” (but I didn’t)and am wondering how my sweater will turn out when she gets through University. I was worrying that I’d really messed up on more than a button band and your blog today gave me a little hope. Good timing.

  68. If you can find rest from knitting with spinning, perhaps you can find rest from teenagers with a dog.
    My oldest is 11. He has a house key now. That’s plenty of scary for me.

  69. Steph, I have been reading your blog (and your books) for some time, but this post is the first that compelled me to add to your daily barrage of comments, simply to respond to the beauty of your writing. An analogy like that only comes from a real writer, and the bit at the end when the sweater and the daughter overlap…I aspire to writing like that someday. Your posts are always a treat, and this one deserves to be in the pantheon.

  70. This is why I read your blog….I have three(yes three) daughters (20,16,12). You get it…..I sent one off to New Zealand (oldest) and one to Ireland (youngest). These past years have been fraught with worry and peril. Thanks for helping me put it into perspective and relate it to my knitting.
    Sue

  71. Seems like learning to knit just a year ago was a smart idea as my oldest is 13. However, it’s a boy, so maybe I’ll be better prepared when my daughters hit this age??? Do girls push you to steek or am I just being naive about my son and he will push me over the edge to actually cutting something so beautiful?

  72. You’ve given me a new appreciation for classic designs with lots of steeking and finishing. I’m very glad you’re not cranking out crappy, trendy little shrugs.
    You’ve also made me even happier that my kids have fur.

  73. Delurking to say a heartfelt thank you for one of your best posts ever. I’ve printed it out, and will save it to read and remember and heed during my own “sweater finishing” (12 & 15).

  74. Oh Goddess… but I’m a crappy finisher… I once ruined an excellent intarsia sweater by not changing colors as I sewed it together… but the thing is, my husband didn’t mind… he didn’t mind that this one strand of gold showed through the cuffs of forest green… he didn’t mind that there was an extra big stitch in the neck because my patience finally broke on the two hundredth time I picked up those stitches…so the thing I guess we need to ask ourselves (as my two oldest ‘sweaters’ enter the button-band phase) is this: While we have the right to strive for perfection with one sort of sweater, really, with the other sort of sweater, isn’t it true that the most we can achieve is form and function, and that the ‘sweater’ must take what we’ve given it and work on the button bands itself–with as much help as it will allow us to give? Glory, what a question… go have some Screech, darling, I’ll join you once I’ve given birth to and breast fed my final sweater… (1 1/2 weeks and counting…)

  75. Hmmmm, from what you aren’t saying, your children will turn out just fine. I never hear anything about drugs, unplanned pregnancy, runaway behavior or the like.( and even these can be dealt with ) What I do hear is along the lines of schoolwork, music lessons, healthy food, and concern for others on the planet. Your children see you and your husband working long and hard, loving deeply, and playing with gusto. What a wonderful home to grow up in! As for the sweaters, you always do exquisite work.

  76. At the moment, my daughter, at 7, is torn between “you never let me do anything myself” and “why aren’t you helping me get dressed???” I’m trying to leave one apron string dangling, and trying even harder to catch her doing things right, which is not easy. The balance of control is a tough one to negotiate, especially if a child is in need of help. I have a feeling I’ll be learning how to truly be of help for the rest of my life. There are days when I worry that one could liken my success rate in the kid-help department to an acrylic steek.
    I’m going back to spin my Shetland now. Sniff.

  77. It is so helpful to read what you have written AND what others have written in response. I am a physician and raising my children(ages 23y,20y,17y,12y and 9y) is the most difficult,exhausting, emotionally charged, high risk activity I have ever been involved in. Parenting is harder than midnight shifts in the ER, 36 hour shifts on the wards, or anything else I have had to do in my “real ” job as a doctor. I thank you for opening up to us all here in bloglandia.

  78. Oh no. I’m not so good at this early “endurance phase” of parenting…but my finishing skills in knitting are not so great…so…
    sigh.
    Lovely post. Lots to think about.

  79. but you do get there — you finish the sweater and the child ends up making you so proud you cry, sometimes at very inappropriate times. by the time i finished the sweater, the intended wearer had gained 60 pounds, i sold the sweater at the annual audubon silent auction, and my son is now within one semester of making dean’s list every opportunity through high school, college, and graduate school, all the while exhibiting a delightful, wicked sense of humour and a kindness that makes me more proud than his outward, tangible achievements. hang in there — it is worth it.

  80. We seem to be forever on the same page on the homefront… I found solace from your post today so have to say thanks for sharing. My girls are good too but it doesn’t seem to keep me from being scared witless sometimes. Now I’ll go repair my string that popped on my wheel yesterday and spin some more. And think about that isolation tank someone mentioned as it sounds wonderful!

  81. Steph –
    after admiring your prose I re-read and “heard” a little more of the pain. Sounds like you had a lousy couple of days. Been there. I hope you can let those hurtful words go – don’t dwell on it, she’s probably already forgotten what she said.

  82. Times like this are when you put down the sweater, step back a moment, breathe…breathe again…breathe once more, and realize that the sweater is just fine. You didn’t ruin it, there were loving stitches and shaping all the way through, and the end result is far more beautiful and unique than you ever could have planned. And suddenly you are humbled that you could ever produce something as wonderful as this when you weren’t sure what you were doing the whole time.

  83. I am probably in the middle of the age of you and your daughter. I am still in college and am not yet anywhere near becoming a parent, but I have been around a little bit longer than your daughter and know just a little bit more about life and that in the end parents do mean well. As a huge fan of your blog and your books and your knitting and well.. you, I was wondering what your daughter(s) think of you – specificially of your blog and your fame within the knitting community.

  84. Evolution! You will want to eventually wear the sweater and our children will eventually want to try things out on their own. None of this can happen without cutting the steek or without children testing the boundaries in the safety of home. Just don’t take it personally.

  85. My daughter is going to Virginia in a few weeks on a school trip and I’m trying like hell to not think about it and remember that she’s mostly a smart kid. *sigh*

  86. Wow, my head is spinning from that sentence. I think I am out of breath . . . dizzy . . .I feel dizzy.
    I personally laid awake last night waiting for my sixteen year old sweater to get back home from the movies with his friends. But my sweater called home at 10:30 to tell me he would be late. Sweaters . . . sometimes they just overwhelm you!

  87. Steph,
    This is a lovely post. I am going to print it out and give it to my mom, with love.

  88. Hehe. I hate it when sweaters don’t write or keep in touch… It is the details that make it, you’re right about that. And you won’t have a finished sweater if you stop caring. But sometimes walking away is a good thing. πŸ˜‰

  89. My sweater moved out at 17 to knit on her own. She turns 20 next Monday and works 2 jobs to support herself, rarely asking for help. She plans to head to college in the fall. For all the worrying I did she has turned into a great person. I hope my 13 year old (male) sweater knits up as nicely!

  90. I’m the mother of a two year old and questioning all of my decisions, rationals, etc. This post really encouraged me. Not just that there’s life after two but to remember that there’s grace in parenting. Its just gettting the balance right. Thanks!

  91. I have a 13 year old daughter and a 15 year old son. I understand you implicity. I’m sorry to say that in my experience girl teens are much harder than boys. Everyday is a struggle between keeping them safe and letting them go.
    Hang in there; one day our kids will have teenagers of their own and we can laugh and point! and spoil our grandkids rotten!!

  92. speaking as a teenager with a great mom, all i can tell you is to never forget what its like to be growing up, which so many adults do.

  93. Several years ago when my guys were in their teens they asked me which was harder: having little kids or having big kids? My answer was that neither was harder, they just came with different types of problems.
    Now that they are in their 20’s, I say, having big (adultish) kids is harder. When they are little you do have control, control over where they go, what parties they attend, who sleeps over. When they are grown, you can only hope that something you did stuck.
    I’m coming to grips daily with what a crapshoot it all is. My favorite analogy is this: I feel as if I’ve spent my life planting corn, and now I find I’m harvesting peas. There’s nothing wrong with peas, peas are good, but they are not what I planted nor what I was expecting. Learning to appreciate peas when I was expecting corn has become my challenge. I love my boys, think they’re terrific and if I never see what I planted, so be it. At least I’ve taught them to be independent thinkers, and follow their own path.
    Know this, my cyber buddy, the girls WILL be fine and you WILL live through it. And when you’re not sure about these truths, pour an adult beverage and knit something simple.

  94. Teens are tough. Teen girls impossible. A friend asked, “Do you know the difference between a vulture and a teen? Vultures wait until you die to eat your heart out.” Too true. Our former teen is now 39 and being tortured by her teens. Not nearly as satisfying to watch as I once thought it would be.
    What a fantastic piece of writing! You are amazing.

  95. My darling former teen said to me the other day, in stark fear– “Mom, what if this baby has the curse you and dad put on me and turns out just like me, what will I DO?”
    I said “You’ll be happy, but it might take a while.”

  96. A sense of humour will get you through almost anything that life has to offer.. therefore you, of all people, being HILARIOUS will survive and so will your children! Also, please add $300.00 to the Knitter’s without Borders total and keep up the great work. You are an inspiration! From blogless(because I still can’t work this #*#* computer) in Wpg. Irene

  97. This is your best post ever! Two of my three sweaters are almost ready for casting off, although that sounds kind of like putting someone in a boat and shoving them off with no paddles. My sweaters have a few flaws, a few dropped stitches here and there perhaps, but they have all the qualities that good sweaters and people should have, especially warmth and compassion. Thanks for your profound thoughts.

  98. Two of my teenagers have graduated to young adult status. They are now delightful, enjoyable, decent human beings. They voluntarily spend time with me and we all like each other – which is good since they are the ones who will be picking out whatever old folks home I may end up in.

  99. Stephanie, this is one of your most brilliant pieces ever . . . and that’s saying a lot. I LOVE the run-on sentence where the sweater and the kid are one and the same . . . a truly inspired jazz rift of maternal-knitter angst and hope. Just don’t try knitting with your fingers crossed . . . and do trust your daughters to be at least as sensible as you were – or more. They have a wonderful mother.

  100. Can I take you literally for a moment and say that buttonbands have always flustered me a bit? Glad to hear that I’m not the only one.
    As for daughters, my 7 year old is going on 8, not 12 or 16, for which I am grateful. My niece on the other hand just turned 18 and is giving my sister a ride for her money. I believe common sense will prevail, but yikes, I feel for parents of teens.

  101. Hang in there, Stephanie. Being liked is nowhere in the job description of mother-of-teenager. Sometimes you just come down to the announcement: “Because today I am the mother!” I am blessed beyond all measure because I am already getting some of the gratitude, and she is only 19! Your turn will come.

  102. Steph, all i can say is: I feel your pain! My oldest is about to leave for college next year and when i’m really frustrated i try to remember it won’t always be this way and someday it will be just me and my husband and though it will be quiet and hopefully less complicated and angst-ridden, our time as a young family will be over. sometimes telling myself that actually brings me back to calmness. sometimes…..

  103. Before I read everyone else’s comments, I must say that this is the first time I laughed and cried at the same time over something I read on the internet.
    My almost 16-year-old is thinking I’m absolutely bonkers and my 13-year-old wants to make me tea so I’ll stop crying.
    The rules change everyday, and nobody ever thinks to give me an agenda. I’m with you, Stephanie. Every appendage is crossed every day and when they’re kissing me good-night I uncross and relax.

  104. And then in a few years they will give you beautiful reasons to knit baby sweaters, and buy you yarn for your birthday.

  105. Wow, did I need this today. I am a mother of two boys 13 and 16.
    Thank you for saying what I’ve been struggling with.

  106. HUGS!
    My sweaters… um sons, are 24 and 22 now. The eldest works with Mentally challenged individuals and the youngest is serving in the U.S.AirForce,(heading back to Iraq for tour #3 in July).
    I know that there were plenty of mistakes made during their knitting up. The finished products tho, well, they both turned out pretty great overall, and those mistakes, kinda hard to frog them, so had to live with them and some of them have even (recently) provided a great laugh. (Remember when…?)
    They (Sweaters and girls) will turn out just fine! Tho it may take a few years, they (the girls) will one day tell you that they are sorry for having put you through days like these.
    Hugs!
    Lana

  107. My dear – years ago a wise woman said : “God gives us teenagers so that when they grow up and move away – we are not quite as heartbroken”. Please know that girls come round – they will be your best friend – in time. Too much time. Took my daughter till she was about 26 – now she is 33 – she thinks I am marvelous! I thanked God for the miracle – even tho it took years to happen!

  108. GEE WHIZ!!I don’t know about raising teens but I can tell you one thing MISS HARLOT. If you can cut a steek in that beautiful creation then you can also cut the umbilical cord when you KNOW its the right timing and the right thing to do. Talk about nerve, judgment and a leap of faith!!!! You’ll do JUST FINE. For now tie a BIG knot in your rope and hang on . Good Luck .

  109. I can say, I never *felt* as though I were a sweater…I’m sorry that we are scary and I am sorry to tell you it doesn’t get un-scary just because we move away and go to college–I am still terrifying my mother daily. But daughters love to get older and appreciate their mothers and provide them with lavish lives which they are expected to become accustomed to.

  110. Lovely, Stephanie. I’m just about knitting up the eyebrows with ChildI and the tips you give are very thought provoking – or they are when I finish wiping up the tears.
    Thanks for a lovely entry.

  111. Thank you, Stephanie. I needed this today. 15 is such a lovely age. I can see glimpses of the woman I would like her to be, but they’re closely followed by nightmares of the toddler she was! And of course, I am always wrong. Just by the fact that I’m standing there. Sigh. Thanks for a reality check that it’s not just me, though!

  112. There’s also the stage where you begin to hope that the sweater moves out while it still knows everything.

  113. Well there is one consolation. Remember that awful moment when you realized you became your mother. Despite all your efforts to the contrary, you realize in mid sentence usually, that your reaction, your common sense, your sense of right and wrong, even your taste god forbid sounds horribly familiar.
    They’re more like you than you or they probably realize.

  114. Stephanie… if you’re lucky, you may have the kind of reward I’m having….. My 28 year old daughter is currently teaching me some knitting tricks in between nursing her beautiful 9 month old son. (Notice I said lucky, not deserving. I tried hard, but to get this sort of reward trying isn’t enough, you have to be lucky, too!)
    But it is heavenly!

  115. Ah! The letting go stage of parenting……nervewracking, isn’t it?? Having one that just graduated from high school and whom I sent away to college just two months ago, I have been going through this a lot in the past year. Not that I am laughing at you Steph, but what has really cracked me up in the past year, are the parents who have children who are 17 or 18 years old and suddenly start worrying about how their kids will behave when they are not around (will they try to have S-E-X at the Senior Prom?? What about drinking?? And what about when they go to college?? How will I be able to check out – and approve of – their new friends??) If a parent has waited until their child is nearly out of high school, to worry if they have taught their children right from wrong, they are way too late!!
    Granted, sending your child off on a field trip to NYC, is a big deal. NYC is enough to make any parent nervous. But if you have done your job right – and I don’t doubt YOU have, Steph, you have nothing – or at least not much to worry about. Now Steeking, that is enough to make anyone mental! I am no where near that, yet.
    Now for my sage teenaged boy advice (doesn’t work so well, for girls, sorry). I have always told my older boys (19 and 15 respectively), if you meet a girl who starts taking about how nice it would be to have a baby…..Do not walk….RUN away from her!! My oldest’s response….yeah, I’ll loan them Walker! (his youngest brother, 11 years his junior). My oldest swears he will not have children before his is 30 and then only one. I wonder if it was my advice, or having to change his baby brother’s diapers that decided that for him?

  116. I have to add to all the wisdom already given – is that raising a child is like raising a garden. You plant the seeds and then let God take over. Not one of my children climbed a Bell Tower, and both seem on their way to fulltime lives – I honestly don’t know how it happened, but I thank my Stars everyday for the situations end. I love them, they visit and someday soon (I hope) they will present me with granchildren to knit for :-)))))))). As far as cutting steeks – you are a brave brave woman!!!!

  117. Stephanie, Today’s blog is masterful ( mistressful?) writing. The way you drew me in and sequed into intermixing the sweater with the teenager was fantastic. thanks

  118. Deep breaths, honey, deep breaths. You’ll be ok. Your daughters will be fine, beautiful, good people. Your sweater will be beautiful. How could it be any other way?

  119. I don’t have children, but I do have knitting. I feel for you. Out of curiosity, is there a significance of the steek-cutting-scissors? You may have answered this before, please forgive me if you have. I see you cutting all of your steeks with that pair, so I wonder if they are magical scissors πŸ˜€

  120. i think i’ve done the toughest steeking i could ever do. i told my sweater it couldn’t come back. it still doesn’t speak to me unless it desperately needs something (it’s going on 2 months now), but i know i cut right, and that it will make this a sweater to meet all its potential, when it’s ready. still very very tough

  121. My favorite line from Lanford Wilson’s play “Fifth of July” — “Men and women aren’t strong enough to have children. Trees should have children.”
    Late to the party, since it was the last night of Basic Sweater class and I let/made them, in turn, cut the steek of my cardigan (they made pullovers.) My Japanese student was talking with someone at the far end of the table, and the American finally asked me “What’s the name of this?” pointing to the ribbing edging with buttonholes in it. “Button band” I said. They didn’t look convinced. Thanks for the headline.
    Then.
    It’s the headache. They suck. Otherwise I’d point out that she already went to EUROPE, for crying out loud. And you LOVE New York, remember? And you know something like 5,763 people who could help in any crisis until you could get there (15-17 minutes, tops.) About the skanky polyester I can’t help you. Forget breathing. Lamaze classes should tell you “Being a parent means you get to worry for the rest of your life.”
    I’d let you off spinning, but you know it will make you feel better. You do know it.

  122. Wow, I wish my toddler would NEVER grow up, but she’s already so big. *sigh* I hope I do as well with my future sweaters & children as you do:)

  123. I don’t know from parenting, but do know that if anything happens on the school trip to NYC, you’ll just have to put up a knit signal on the blog and knitters from all over our fair city will come a-runnin’ to help. The staff at the Hilton will be very concerned at first to see so many DPNs in action in the lobby as knitters stream in, but will realize that we come in peace. We like to help! Particularly if you need directions; we love to give directions.
    (Also, I ride the subway at all hours, but I’m too scared to try steeking. Cut the knitting? No can do.)

  124. My younger sister in her teenage years did the following;, sneaked wearing halter tops to school, dated a guy named Snake, ran away from home (from California to Canada) crashed the family car, and got a tatoo in a place that hopefully few people got to see.
    And today she is a manager at a high tech firm, has an oldest son who just got a scholarship to a prestigious private school, and is a happily married mom of three.
    They can’t be completely protected from that skanky skein of polyester, but someday they’ll remember the bainin yarn that their granny had them wind for their very own Aran cardie and the teenage years will all be a ghastly memory…(for them and for you).

  125. My younger sister (in her teenage years) did the following;, sneaked wearing halter tops to school, dated a guy named Snake, ran away from home (from California to Canada) crashed the family car, and got a tatoo in a place that hopefully few people got to see.
    And today she is a manager at a high tech firm, has an oldest son who just got a scholarship to a prestigious private school, and is a happily married mom of three.
    They can’t be completely protected from that skanky skein of polyester, but someday they’ll remember the bainin yarn that their granny had them wind for their very own Aran cardie and the teenage years will all be a ghastly memory…(for them and for you).

  126. You are the rockingest mom. Seriously, my mom’s apron strings were a bit too tight, but overall she finished me off right if I do say so myself. And we’re very close, and I never meant it for more than 5 seconds when I said I hated her. You’re doing a great job.

  127. from a mother of 7 i salute you!!! i am now watching my son go thru the same doubts with my grandchildren. you never know how well you have done until you see them on their own. then all the patience, fussing, worrying, loving is worth every second

  128. Great post Stephanie, I feel your pain too, one of my sweaters needs to stay in the Wip basket for a while till I can figure out what I am going to do with him, my brother told me he would be fine when he was 22, thats 6 more years!! Don’t think I can wait that long.

  129. Thank you for your insights today. You have no idea how appropriate this was for me. My son turned 16 today. I feel your pain.
    Big hugs!

  130. Bingo. 43 15year olds at a 3 hour beach party with 2 adults. 11 year old flying with 11 year old friend (but no adult) to other side of continent for 4 days. Chiropractor suggested I ‘remember to breathe’ after struggling to unlock my rigid neck. Probably not on the agenda until, oh, 2015.
    Thanks for knowing about it and writing about it so well. The memory of homebirths and extended breastfeeding and the practice of knitting and spinning keeps the insanity at bay.
    And thanks for the luscious pictures.

  131. What more can be said? You’ve used the best yarn, taken care with the pattern and stitches! Just remember it is when these sweaters find a home of their own that they bring comfort to us in our old age.
    Make the decisions based on the sweater and the facts, not your own fears. Hard to do but necessary.
    Keep on writing Stephanie. Your intelligence and wit shine through and makes everyones’ day a little brighter… Thank you.

  132. as I sit with tears in my eyes I recall the day my daughter told me she wanted to get married at 19 to a boy who had quite a bit of growing up to do…within two weeks I figured out she was also pregnant…I had breastfed her (and my son), read them books, fed them the good food, raised them well and here we were…but hindsight is better then living in the situation and now i see that it is the best thing that ever happened to our relationship. I learned to let go and let her make decisions for her life…because, well, it is her life and not mine anymore….and we came out on the other end happier, closer and more content with ourselves and our roles. She’s a GREAT mom and my granddaughter is a lucky lucky girl to have her in her life. It all works out…and letting go, the hardest thing to do, is what allowed us to be where we are today…thanks for the reminder Stephanie…She’s almost 22 now…we celebrate her birthday in 2 weeks….better get started on planning that party! I have a sweater to finish πŸ™‚

  133. THIS is why I read you, Dear! REAL LIFE with knitting, humor and TRUTH! Bless you! I hear your heart!
    KNIT ON!!!

  134. Hang in there. While nobody is perfect, I’m sure you are a wonderful mother, and your children are lucky to have you! And you are a brave and beautiful knitter too πŸ™‚

  135. Amen and amen.
    Raising sons is the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Who needs skydiving — I’ve got a 12 year old who will turn 13 in June.
    Thanks, Stephanie, for putting words to my thoughts.

  136. Keep in mind that sometimes the teen-ager grows up a little, goes off to some strange city to attend University, and discovers whole new adventures, including sock knitting and cool blogs such as Yarn Harlot. Then she thinks she’s so cool and original, even though she knows that Mom was there first. Hang in there, it does get easier again.

  137. As per Lucia – button bands can grow with the front and you don’t have to worry about the fit/stretch or sewing them on(which I hate).
    Admittedly it gets fiddley with 2 different sets and sizes of needles (and ocassionally you forget to change) but worthwhile and I always found that, in my case anyway, it produced a better fitted band.
    I learned this methd of knitting button bands together with the fronts many eons ago from my mother during my earliest knitting years when my age was still in single figures. My mother is no longer with us, and was one of the best knitters I ever knew, except perhaps for her mother who never travelled anywhere without the socks. My maternal grandmother was well known among her large family for appearing unannounced on the doorstep of any of her sons or daughters with her nightie and current socks on needles in a shopping bag, prepared to stay as long as she was welcome.
    As a great auntie myself I look back fondly on those memories and the lessons well learnt from all the great knitters in my mothers family. I am the only one of her 3 daughters who turned out to be ‘The Knitter’, while my younger sister is the crocheter and my older sister the sewer. They can and sometimes do knit but they’re not KNITTERS…

  138. Good one! Emily is only going on 5 but while I don’t know what specific things will make us nuts in 6 or 7 years, I’m sure there will be something and that it will be really different.

  139. I’m alternating between sobbing and laughing. I just completely screwed up a sweater steek AND button band (knitted too big so it hangs, but I’m afraid of frogging it because of the crappy steeking). Anyway, I have three daughters and what if they end up like my disastrous button band. OMG! Your analogy is hilarious, but it strikes eerily close to home.

  140. Stephanie, I appreciate that you are able to glide so easily over a fabulous metaphor, perfectly seaming humor and wisdom. This is why you have such a huge readership… your writing is so often inspiring and at other times is so funny that I’m laughing out loud while reading. Sometimes you hit on that perfect gem of a post like this one.
    Thank you for being who you are. πŸ™‚

  141. If you’re “ruining their life” then you’re doing the right thing. Just say, “Thanks, I know.” Then go spin. I always figured out if they didn’t end up dead or in jail, I was doing OK.

  142. You still never know, even if they’re raised as right as you can.
    My oldest has made some superbly bone-headed decisions in spite of all the “quality material” I put into him.
    My youngest, recently on a field trip to Chicago, was giving money to a panhandler, who then with his buddies, ripped off my kid’s $200 35mm camera….So my kid made a kind decision and paid for it in spades.
    You really have to hope for the best, pray a lot and find serenity in the “a-ha” moments the kids have when they turn to you in all sincerity and say, “Mom, you were right about that.”

  143. Our sweater will be 21 in a couple of weeks. She’s her own person (that I’ve kind of learned to let her be), makes pretty good decisions (although the route to those decisions can get kind of rocky), is doing quite well in college and is on the way to making future career choices. We are incredibly proud of her. My hubby had to “referee” for us quite often when she was a teen and we all survived. Now he’s having a harder time “letting go” than I am! My only advice: Rember to tell them how much you love them and how proud of them you are!

  144. Hang in there! It gets better. Yes, really. I have 2 wonderful children, ages 21 and 19, and I think they like me again. Sometimes.

  145. As Kahlil Gibran said: “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They came through you but not from you and though they are with you yet they belong not to you. ” Or, as my husband tells me in less exaulted words: “you can put food on their plates, but you can’t make them eat.”
    Your kids (and sweaters, which also have a mind of their own) will turn into whoever they will be. Your job is remains as simple as when they were babies: do your best.

  146. Today I needed your words, Stephanie. I hate managing the teenage sweater project. I hate hearing that her life so sucks while she’s sucking the life from me. It’s so hard to cling to the principles of good and kind when her world is full of bling. I keep knitting, not to take my mind off the hurricane, but to keep the strings of my truth safely bound together.

  147. Today I needed your words, Stephanie. I hate managing the teenage sweater project. I hate hearing that her life so sucks while she’s sucking the life from me. It’s so hard to cling to the principles of good and kind when her world is full of bling. I keep knitting, not to take my mind off the hurricane, but to keep the strings of my truth safely bound together.

  148. What a beautiful post, and how close to home it hits! I spent all of yesteday fretting alternately about what I am going to do when I get to the button band on the Must Have Cardie and about how to parent my little 6yo sweater. Thanks for tying things together for me. I forwarded your post to my partner who is printing it out for posterity.

  149. My daughter is 32,and she still gives me angst. Today is not one of those days though, we’re going to the mall after we get out of work. But…I have to say my stomach doesn’t churn when I’m working on my sweater…I heard this keeps us young not according to the mirror.

  150. Now, see, this is why my sweaters are threatening to take away my computer priveledges. They know that I would have no qualms about sending an SOS to everyone on-line if they got into trouble away from home. Of course, they assure me that there would be no trouble because they were properly reared, and are properly terrified.

  151. Being a parent is hands-down the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life – and it is the most permanant job there is. You’ve got to hold your breath while they jump out of the nest, and hope to God you taught them how to fly properly.

  152. You have no idea how much I needed that today. My job has had me working 60 + hours a week on a project for about a month and a half, and I’m a single mom with no dad to help take up the slack. My son is 12 and today I got a call from the day camp he is going to for spring break this week. They wanted to tell me that he made rude finger gestures behind a counselor’s back, pushed a kid in an argument over who gets the computer first, and then got in a fistfight with that kid’s little brother. I’m sitting here thinking what a crappy mother I am right now for wanting to work to be able to put groceries on the table and designer tennis shoes on his feet instead of spending time with him. I needed some perspective, and you gave me some in a language I can understand. Hang in there. Just like the rest of us, and thanks for verbalizing it so that we can share it.

  153. Man, Steph, That is just one of your best pieces of writing, ever. I am going to put it on the fridge-i-door and point it out to my 17 and 20 daughters and everyone else, too. Thank you so much.

  154. My fiancee directed me to this. I applaud you; it was well written, amusing, and meaningful. I am not a knitter myself, although I am frequently in close proximity to it. I have enjoyed the stories and such of yours that my sweetie has shared with me.

  155. This was SO awesome. And so in tune with my last few days – worrying about a teenage boy instead of a daughter though – but it’s all the same. And in the meantime I keep unraveling and re-doing a collar that I started long ago – because now that I’m ALMOST at the end, the darn collar just doesn’t look right, or lay right, or behave the way I’d like it to. And so I unraveled again, and picked up stitches and just maybe THIS time I’ll get it right. And at the same time I’m thinking about my 17-year-old son and his new girlfriend and all that THAT entails and what he’s going to do for college and his life…
    And then I read THIS and I knew just exactly what you meant. Just when you think you’re over the hump – it’s on to the finishing and that’s really where things get most tricky.

  156. Love the analogy. My teenager has been one for all of, gasp, 5 days!! Pass the sweater…..

  157. Big blow up with my “sweater” last night ..not enough freedom etc ,hates all the knitwear I ever made her wear etc ….very puzzled Dad stood by ..I cast off to bed and all is quiet today …angie Cox .

  158. What a great post — so true for knitting, so true for parenting and so true for supervising and managing people at work.
    I remember telling my younger sister that you have to learn to be firm — if you can be firm with four year old about not running into the road, then you’ll know how to be firm telling your fifteen year old that she can’t go to Texas to see her boyfriend.
    Keep on knitting and writing and living!

  159. I love your book, At Knit’s End, which I also bought for 2 best friends. Your comparison of sweater and teenager daughter is amazingly close to the truth. Perhaps it improves with age.

  160. Oh, Steph, my goodness. And so many other wonderful comments, people! Whoa.
    Sometimes you do frog the sweater down to the bottom cuff, and painfully pick up those stitches, and try it again, only differently. And it’s a better sweater for all that. We breathe, and we knit, and we do all those things we have to just so we can keep standing it for one minute longer. And then one day, the stitch count on the collar comes out exactly right; she says, hey I really shouldn’t have blown up at you, I’m sorry. It all lies where it was supposed to, and it’s a thing of beauty after all.
    Peace.

  161. Loved reading your post. Your blog is great!!! My kids are a boy of 11 and a girl of 9, they give me lots of love and pleasure, and every once in a while I want someone to adopt them right on the spot. Seems to be only natural. I hope they will turn out great people, and hey, what else can I do than my ultimate best?
    Hang in there! Love from Groningen, Holland (so remember all of you sisters out there: we all have the same problems all over the world…)

  162. Wow.
    The wisdom here is awesome.
    I need to save this for about five years — when I’ll REALLY need to read it again.
    Thanks…

  163. Well, there sure are a lot of them out there – teenagers and parents who have survived it… um…them. The parents keep telling me “you’re doing great! It will all be ok!”
    When she was 4 and half she nearly drowned. My 17 year old daughter is a beautiful miracle. But every time a new “growing experience” (…and you know the ones I mean) comes along, I literally hyperventilate. I even found myself wearing a heart monitor when she got her driver’s license.
    I am starting to knit lace. I apparently like the hard stuff.
    Now …onto the boy! Definitely more like uh… can you knit a football?
    Thanks, Stephanie!

  164. Bravo, Bravo, Bravo.
    Tears in my eyes as I read the blog. Mostly I lurk. Your writing is beautiful and this entry is the best yet.
    My only sweater will be 27 next week. Currently she is very angry with me and vows not to speak to me, but continues to speak to me through my Mother though which is almost as good. Perhaps it was my retort of “Neither Mattel nor instructions came stamped on you butt when you arrived” I regret it now.
    Stitches do get dropped and yarn gets tangled sometimes but we never give up hope that the pattern we had in mind will right itself sooner or later.
    Thank you Stephanie
    and all the others who contributed
    Sherry

  165. Marvelous, Stephanie … it’s all a matter of creativity, isn’t it? My two sweaters … daughter and son … are in their 30’s and yes, I did survive their teen years (to my hairdresser’s delight) and knitted them sweaters and hats and scarves and mittens and gloves the whole while. And, I do believe having paid attention to the detail reaped all kinds of benefits … they still have the knitted garments believe it or not, and they are both extremely successful professionally and personally.
    And for Sherry — I used to tell mine, “listen, this is the first day ever I have been the mother of a kid your age — a little slack would be nice — work with me here.” They laugh about that one still!
    Bottom line: enjoy your children … they are afterall extremely entertaining … no matter the age or stage in life. And keep on knitting!!

  166. Steph, i know exactly how you feel! and i only have the on sweater (girl) and she’s only 10 1/2.. eeek but going on 40.. i wish we could be here for your teen’s visit to the Big Apple but we sadly will be down south in Hilton Head for easter this year.. I do hope to meet up with you in Rutherford NJ next week before we leave! πŸ™‚ have loved all of you other books looking forward to the latest:-) knit on girl:-)
    Karola at home in the Heart of Harlem

  167. Steph, i know exactly how you feel! and i only have the one sweater (girl) and she’s only 10 1/2.. eeek but going on 40.. i wish we could be here for your teen’s visit to the Big Apple but we sadly will be down south in Hilton Head for easter this year.. I do hope to meet up with you in Rutherford NJ next week before we leave! πŸ™‚ have loved all of you other books looking forward to the latest:-) knit on girl:-)
    Karola at home in the Heart of Harlem

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