I’ve been plodding away on the blue sweater, and I’m not sure what’s happening between us, but I can tell you that it’s not magic. It’s awkward and weird and I keep making mistakes. In short, it’s like grade 9 all over again.
I plugged away the other night, and trudged haplessly through the back of the thing, making mistake after mistake. I find this stitch pattern difficult, mostly because it’s worked on both the right and wrong sides of the work, and the wrong side keeps going all wrong. I’d finish a wrong side row, turn it around and then see the mistakes – where the slipped stitches were slipping in the wrong direction, and I’d have to tink back a row, correct it and carry on. I eventually realized that I just didn’t have my head in the game hard enough, and I summoned the focus of a laser and started to work on it with a fever. I counted stitches, I put the chart right in front of me, I turned up the lights and I abandoned my glass of wine for tea. (Desperate times, desperate measures- all that.) I stuck to that diamond shaped repeat like glue, and after several hours of knitting like I really meant it, the back was finished.
Hope renewed, I cast on for the left front and stuck to that. It was all going pretty well until I got to the decreases, which I attempted, only to arse them within an inch of their lives. The seam side increases, and the front edge decreases and both of those happen at different rates and a different number of times and the instructions are written in that way that sends me screaming into the woods. It says –
"Inc 1 st at side seam edge of next and 4 foll 8th rows and at same time dec 1 sts at slope edge of next and 5th foll 4th rows, then on every foll 6th row."
See what I mean? I executed that once and realized I’d gone too far and had too few stitches, then ripped back partways to where I thought I was right and took another run at it, only to end up with an even rather than odd number of stitches, which meant I’d done something off again, and then realized that I’d decreased on one row where I should have increased on that row and that row was way, way back and at that point I called it a night, but not before doing a few reassuring rounds on a sock so that I could feel like a knitter.
The next night I gave both myself and the sweater a talking to, and took another run. This time I assembled a row counter, post it notes and made myself a little chart of the increases and decreases. I did the whole shebang again – this time entirely ending up with the right number of stitches, only to find this instruction:
Left front now matches back to beg of armhole shaping.
It did not. This, I interpreted as some sort of vicious knitting joke – or at least that’s what I told myself I as I ripped the shaping part back into oblivion. The next run ended me up at the same place (with some rows tinked back for slipped stitch errors) and I decided then just to knit another stinking 6 cm to get it to where it had to be. I know that’s a copout, but the other choice was setting fire to the whole thing while dancing over it in a fit of rage, which Joe frowns on in the living room, and it was raining too hard to make a bonfire work outside.
That done, I spread it on my knee and admired it, somewhat unhappily. It was at this moment that I remembered that after six repeats of slipped stitch diamonds, I was supposed to switch to slipped stitch zig zags, and a quick count revealed that I’d gone too far. I had seven repeats, one too many. I successfully resisted the urge to gnaw the cast on edge of it as an expression of frustration, but instead I very maturely ripped back a diamond, and began the zig-zag part.
Doing that part of the chart felt really fresh, really new, really interesting, and for a little while I felt better about it, until I realized that it shouldn’t feel fresh and new, because it’s the same pattern on the back. Six diamonds and then a zig-zag- and if I’d already done this, then why was it charming?
I reached for the back, already knowing the truth. Sure enough, I’d been so focused on get the diamonds right that I’d gotten them right all the way up. Not a zig-zag in sight. That means, gentle readers, that I’ve got to rip the back all the way back to the top of the sixth diamond and try actually following the chart.
Bugger it all.
Awash in hopelessness for this sweater, I went and got a glass of wine (abstaining sure as s**t wasn’t helping) and returned to the front. I’d do that right, then at least have a finished part before I had to do the demoralizing work of ripping up the back. Right there, after the sixth completed diamond, I started the zig-zags, all the while reminding myself that knitting is relaxing and I like it.
As I churned out the zig-zags, I was struck by a thought. Maybe future trouble with this sweater could be prevented if I spent a little time studying the pattern and looking for trouble spots. I went and got a hi-lighter, and started to mark up the pattern. I marked all the spots I tell my students to mark. Words like "at the same time" and "also" and noting the number of repeats of things and the correct stitch counts that the sweater should have at certain points to give me landmarks.
It was while I was doing this, that I happened to notice something. Seven. Seven was the number of diamonds before the zig-zags. SEVEN. Not six, not none – SEVEN. That means that the back is entirely wrong, and that the front was right until I ripped it back and re-knit it so it could be wrong and it was at that exact moment that I put this entire sweater into an opaque bag, so that I don’t even need to see it’s smarmy little stitch pattern staring at me and mocking me through the night. I can feel it smirking and enjoying all the attention and reknits, and well … It can suck it. It can just take it’s little balls of yarn and sit in time out for a while, and maybe forever because really, even though I might not be smart enough to knit this – and that’s pretty much a bummer, because it’s not that hard boys and girls, it’s just not. All you have to do to knit this sweater is read the instructions and do what they say, and I’m not blaming the sweater for my failure to do that.
I just don’t think it needs to enjoy beating me so much, and there’s other wool in the world, and for that matter, a lot of that wool is in this house. This sweater can bite me hard on the hind-parts, because this is supposed to be what I do for fun. I’m a forty two year old woman with working class breasts, short legs and bad hair. I don’t need my self-esteem any lower and I’m certainly not lowering it myself. I have bathing suit shopping to do that for me, and I don’t need it from a hobby.
Somebody pass me my sock.