This post comes to you from a hotel room in Brooklyn, where I’m quietly recovering from Rhinebeck and the travels so far- drinking coffee and getting ready for the reading and signing tonight in Park Slope. (Who’s coming?) I had, as always, a wonderful time at Rhinebeck, and signed lot of books and met tons of knitters, and saw old friends and made new ones. The signing was as entertaining as it always is. I know that you’d think that it would be a little monotonous, sitting for a couple of hours, writing your name in books, but I have the good fortune to be doing this with Knitters, which means something interesting always happens. Meet Claudia – the first knitter in line.
Claudia had a real commitment to being first in line, and cracked me up with her enthusiasm for the process. I think you can see from her lovely face that she’s as much fun as is possible – and she had everyone in her vicinity smiling- including me. I’m smiling now thinking about her, she’s totally a gift that keeps on giving.
There were babies. (You know how I love the smallest of people.)
That’s Amanda and the charming Theo. (Amanda was charming too. She’s the tall one. Theo’s the one in the amazing monster pants.)
Finally there was Bobbie from Maine – who brought her own paparazzi, and showed of her hand dyed, hand spun and hand knit socks. She’s one of those overachievers.
I saw some wonderful things too. The fleece sale, a goat who wouldn’t go…
The new Rav babies (I love how baby Carson looks like he’s saying "For crying out loud, I’m not even a knitter. Why am I here? I’m so totally bored")
Mary-Heather’s breasts (she was actually showing the inside of her sweater, but it was a better moment my way)
Anne Hanson and Amy Herzog sharing a clear love of green,
Sheep, alpacas, a lamb with the best spot…and so much more.
What then you ask, what was the trouble? Glad you asked.
Shortly after Kellee picked me up at the airport and we went to WEBS (because we are not stupid. Who goes within striking distance of WEBS and doesn’t go?)
And then in the parking lot we the bad luck of a dead car battery:
and the good luck of a rescue from Debbi and Marcy, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
I know. They both look unbelievably happy about a dead car battery in the rain. What can I say. We were at WEBS. It’s the happiest place on earth.
Right after that we went to a restaurant for lunch, and over lunch I was showing her and Amy my sweater (parts) and saying how I just had to sew it up now, so everything was going to be fine, right after that…I was spreading the sweater out on the table when I noticed something funny about the cast-on edge of the right front. It was a little dark, and slightly frayed. Perplexed, I flipped it over to look, because it looked absolutely fine from the front, and immediately the world went a little dark around the edges. The night before, when the sweater parts had been in the oven drying, I had smelled burning hair for a minute. I ran to the oven, saw nothing wrong except for a tail of the yarn that was touching the bottom of the stove… assumed that was it, and carried on. I suppose I should have taken a better look, because somehow, though the rest of the parts are perfect, there is one small area of scorch on the sweater front.
I took several deep breaths, hoping it was cosmetic, but as I handled the sweater, that portion essentially disintegrated into a little pile of Shelter ash. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve dried A MILLION things in the oven, and never has this happened and clearly this time something went horribly wrong and I’ll (probably) never do it again… but all of that was irrelevant in that moment. I took a deep swig of my beer, tried not to cry in front of Amy and Kellee, and formulated a plan. I would do what I could to stabilize that part – essentially with a patch and some duplicate stitch, and when Rhinebeck was over, I would cut off the ribbing of the sweater on the front – pick up the stitches, and knit down. This idea got me through until that evening, when having made the repairs as best I could, and hanging out with my buddies,
(It’s not pretty, but it would keep it from unravelling more…) I sewed in the first very pretty sleeve,
and then started to match up the front and back along the side seam. They wouldn’t match. I started easing it along, wondering if my blocking was imperfect, and tried again… this time being more careful about pinning them together. Still not right. It just wouldn’t go together. Now, I’d had a glass of wine and a long day, and if you get up at 5am and travel and then discover you’ve immolated a sweater front, you’re bound to be off your game, so I tried again… then again, then in frustration, lay the pieces down to try AGAIN. That’s when I saw it.
Both fronts (because I measured them off of each other) are 10 centimeters (that’s four inches) shorter than the back.
I lost it. I disguised the heartbroken sobs as laughter (which came out as very, very crazy laughter – I could tell by the looks on my friends faces) they tried to come up with solutions, probably so that I would stop laughing like that. There was "That sh*t will block right out" (which ALWAYS means that sh*t will NEVER block out) there was the option of shortening the back (which sadly would have left me with a Rhinebeck belly sweater) the idea of somehow pulling out the ribbing and knitting down four inches on both pieces, which was attractive because I already had to sort of do that to deal with the part I’d tried to light fire too… but that would mean that the cables on the front and ba
ck weren’t the same anymore…. and the suggestion that perhaps I could "ease that right in" while seaming. (We all knew that wouldn’t work the second we heard it, but you have to at least consider it for a moment.)
After a sad 10 minutes exploring options, I realized two things. I’m an idiot- and that I was going to have to pull back and re-knit half of one front, adding the extra four inches before the armhole, and reknit the entire other front, because once a piece is four inches too short AND has a disintegrating portion of the ribbing because you accidentally burned it in the oven because you can’t plan ahead properly… it probably deserves a second chance at life entirely, and so that’s what I’m doing. I’ve already re-knit the front that wasn’t burned and it’s drying (on the air-conditioner here in the hotel. I’m not taking any chances) and I’ll tackle the other front this evening. I could still have a sweater in a few days, assuming I don’t run out of yarn.
So that, my friends, is the answer to the question that a hundred knitters asked me on Saturday when I wasn’t wearing a Rhinebeck sweater.
I had a little trouble.