A River in Egypt

This June I will be fifty years old.  When I am fifty, I will have been knitting for forty-six years, and I have just done a classic dumb-knitter thing, and I want you to know that if you were hoping that sometime soon you would stop doing the same thing, you should probably give up.

I just finished the sweetest little sweater for Elliot.  It’s the Elwood sweater – re-jigged colour-wise to match all the hats I knit this Christmas.  Looks great, right?

toosmalldammit 2018-02-06 (1)

Wrong. It does not fit him, it is too small. I have to pull the whole thing out. I think I can just go back as far as the divide for the sleeves, work some more increases and carry on, but I have to pull out the sleeves, the collar and button band, the body from the divide… and here is the worst part.

It is my fault. It is completely my fault. It is entirely, 100% totally my fault in about ten ways, which I have listed below, so that the record is complete.

1. I didn’t do a swatch.  I can’t explain why not, I just let it go, like a passing and irrelevant thought.  A bubble I let float away on a breeze.

2. Once I decided not to do a gauge swatch, I also decided that even though the gauge for this sweater is 18 stitches to 10cm, and even though I have never, ever gotten that gauge with this yarn and a size 4mm needle – that this was indeed the needle I should use.

3. I made that decision, knowing that it would result in a fabric that I liked, but not a gauge that would work, and started knitting anyway – believing that it might still work, even though I absolutely knew it would not. I did not suspect it wouldn’t work. I knew it wouldn’t, and yet I hoped that this was the time that everything would change, for no reason what so ever, even though the world never, ever works that way.

4. I began knitting, and knew the gauge was wrong, and the sweater would be too small, but thought I might just do a few extra increases to make it work.

5. Then I didn’t do them. I didn’t forget either. I just decided to skip it because #3.

6. I had a feeling again, once I divided for the sleeves and body, that it wasn’t working out. As a matter of fact, I applied forty-six years of experience and knew it wasn’t working out, but I decided to ignore that feeling in the hopes that magic dust would settle on the sweater and a unicorn would spit on it and a knitting miracle that has never before happened to me would finally occur.

7. It did not, and despite that, I decided to knit the button band and the collar before the sleeves, just to make it harder to rip it out if the unicorn thing didn’t happen.

8. As I was knitting the first sleeve I knew it was too skinny. I knew my gauge was wrong. I knew all of those things and I felt pretty bad about knitting the sleeve, but I told myself that all of these problems were probably going to block right out, so I knit the second tiny stupid too small sleeve.

sweater wrong 2018-02-06

9. Then I wove in all the ends.

10. Then I blocked it, and it didn’t block out.You know why? Because nothing ever blocks out. Nothing ever has. The first time you think “oh dear… well, that will probably block right out” you should immediately rip back, because that isn’t a thing. That’s not what blocking does, and I know that, and I teach that, and I have written that down and I literally have a tee-shirt emphasizing this and I honestly can’t tell you what the hell was wrong with me from the word go on this sweater because despite points 1-10 this morning I texted Megan and asked her to give me Elliot’s measurements because you know… BABIES SHRINK ALL THE TIME, and when he was as big or bigger than he was the last time I asked I actually got upset and shocked that this sweater is too small.

The only redeeming thing I can possibly say about this episode is that at least I didn’t sew the buttons on. I hate me.

274 thoughts on “A River in Egypt

  1. At least Elliot’s your first grandbaby, this is simply prep for the next one. 🙂

    (I say this because it seems reasonable another one will come along eventually…not because I am in any positions to spill beans)

  2. Perhaps you should just tuck this one into the future grandbaby box, (it will fit said grandbaby at some stage) and start a new one for Elliot! Might be faster….. Good-luck.

  3. Sew the buttons on and donate to a responsible charity auction. Elliot will always have sweaters and an auction could provide another child with a beautiful sweater and help the charity to meet their needs.

    • Hear, hear! There are plenty of babies in our cold city (Toronto) who will never receive a hand knit sweater. I think you have way too much on your mind and just “went with it”. It is a beautiful little sweater!

  4. I agree that keeping this one is a goof idea. It’s a lot of work to take it all out. Put the buttons on it, and take a picture. Label that picture “Don’t be a knitting dumbass.” and put that picture in the knitting corner. It may save you the next time you think of making Mistake Number 1,

  5. I agree with the previous writers. You’ve got a great baby sweater there – just save it for the right baby and knit another for Eliot. Now I did the same thing with with a Christmas sweater for my daughter in cashmere and silk with fancy cables and i’ve got to get that away from her and reknit it all . She’s hanging on insisting she’ll lose enough weight for it to fit. Nobody else deserves this gorgeous sweater and i’ve Just got to get it right.

    • I knit a sock with k1p1 cuff ribbing and then started knit its companion with k2p2 cuff ribbing. I called a friend and said they don’t look the same. She said to give them a soak, let them dry, and they’ll be fine. After I did that and it wasn’t fine, I called her back with my OMG moment. A long laugh followed as did two more socks, one with k1p1 cuff and one with k2p2 cuff. I was lucky i bought so much yarn!

      Having the product vs process angst with sewing now. Really want the finished product and I want it to be right. I’m about 2 muslins away from that!

  6. This is when you remember that you love the process of knitting as much or even more than the products. If you choose to rip it back you just get to enjoy that knitting process all the longer. (and can I admit that I’ve been knitting quite a bit for 20 years, and on and off for 40, and it really does my heart good to know I’m not the only one who makes these kind of mistakes – – I hate swatching…and yet it bites me every time I don’t do it.)

  7. I think prepping this for another grandbaby is a great idea, unless you and all the others are in denial about another grandbaby being a potential thing.

    That said, early Happy Birthday, and do what you think is best. After all, you could just get more yarn and knit another sweater for Elliot that will match. Or get a whole lot of yarn and knit sweaters for *everyone* that will match those hats.

  8. Maybe you could just think of it as a very large swatch. Swatching the body, swatching the arms, swatching the cuffs, the collar, the button band. Now the swatch has given you the information you need for this project. But maybe next time, a slightly smaller swatch.

  9. Hahaha, oh that’s funny! I vote for this sweater belonging to a different baby!

    I am knitting my first sweater for my baby daughter. Just last week she crawled over and yanked my needle causing me to drop lots of stitches. (she is newly mobile….I wasn’t prepared.) I thought I fixed it but after finishing the row I realized I picked up another stitch so there is a random increase. I thought “Oh, it will block out.” Hahaha. I haven’t touched the sweater since. Probably my avenging conscience telling me to go fix the mistake.

    • It’s her own little addition to her jumper! Look at that stitch increase and let it remind you of when she had her first taste of knitting!

      • I am so glad you mentioned this! What a sweet way to look at it. I did fix it a bit but a few stitches still look wonky. So I won’t stress about it and just leave it for the reminder of the memory!

  10. Consider reworking that button band so the red stripe looks the same, even where the collar is rolled open.

    (I thought you might like something else to fixate on while your frog the sucker.)

  11. Would it be easier to donate this sweater and start a new one for him? Or would that involve buying more yarn instead of using up all the left overs?

    You have my sympathy (from someone who hit 50 several years ago). It’s actually a misunderstanding that “wisdom comes with age”. What actually comes with age is “I don’t care, I’m doing what I want to do and you can’t make me do it your way!”

    • Oh yes I completely agree with this! At 53, I am not necessarily any wiser than I was, but I really don’t care anymore what other people think . Very liberating, I might
      add :-)). But dear Stephanie, just so you know, I / we (the Blog) think you are terrific and thank you once again for showing us your awesome humanness. Now give that sweater to another baby and start a new one for Elliot!

  12. In May I will be 70….and have been knitting as long as I can remember 🙂 I think my Mum taught me. What I do remember is being caught reading at school during a ‘knitting’ lesson when I was about 7, until the teacher saw that I was knitting my dishcloth and reading…and just left me to it !!! 🙂

    • This is fabulous! I am 61, and because I am in “school” on Fridays, I knit during class (easy, and people mostly ignore it) but I’m trying to master the art of knitting while reading, because it makes the reading less painful (I’m a slow reader and the material is dense). I’m not very good at it yet – I’d rather be knitting than reading. But it sounds like you mastered it at 7!

  13. Surely you can find a tinier baby to wear the sweater.

    This just is reinforcing that, when I make my first sweater EVER (That I have yarn and pattern for, but am scared to start;) that I need to swatch.

  14. One Saturday afternoon, long before the shop owner retired and the shop closed, I was one of several knitters who were hanging out, knitting and yakking and greeting customers, old and new, who ventured in. Then. “RATS!” I said. “I can’t even count!” and I started to rip out several inches. “Happens to everyone,” the weekend assistant remarked. “I can’t believe I have a masters degree,” I said. “This is GARTER STITCH! And I couldn’t count to three. I’m amazed I’m let out of the house without a keeper!” The weekend assistant smiled. “Trust me,” she said. “You know I’m a psychiatrist in my day job, right? It happens to everyone, trust me.”

    • I am a tapestry weaver, not a knitter, but was once doing a design and was absolutely unable to tell the difference between doing one of something and doing two. Over and over.

  15. I disagree with everyone. I think that if Elliot truly wanted to be helpful he would shrink a bit to fit his lovely new sweater. He’s not too little to take one for the team!

    • Here I thought the whole ‘not fitting thing’ was going to be conveniently blamed on an unforeseen and extreme growth spurt on the ungrateful wee man’s part!!

  16. It will look fantastic on the NEXT baby to join the family. REALLY.
    And thanks for making me always feel like I’m not just a hopeless idiot when I have similar (okay, worse) knitting fantasies about gauge, fit, size, etc. It’s really a public service when you make a knitting miscalculation and share it!

  17. You really have a T-shirt? about blocking? and leave me alone, my friend has small hands and it is almost possible that these fingerless mitts will fit.

    • Oh yes…both Steph and Debbie were wearing then at Strung Along one year. They say “That sh*t will block right out”.

  18. Oh my! Thank heavens you are a lightening speed knitter and can have it redone in no time. Welcome (almost) to a great decade — the 50’s!

  19. Oh – just wait until you turn 60!!
    And surely little Elliot will have a sibling before you know it. You’re just getting prepared. There’s more yarn where that came from!!

  20. Forgive yourself generously, because from experience, I suspect you are still in the white noise of grief and your brain isn’t seeing things in the usual way. My husband wrote a poem that describes it well when his mother died.

    Steve Poppino

    the season of white noise
    snakes’ hissing in the mind
    forms icy mists
    subtle fangs unseen
    sever thought from act

    the heart concussed with pain
    shivering and stumbling
    slow as snails
    scans the ground for green shoots
    signaling a shift of season

  21. Cut yourself a little bit of slack, Steph. You have had a lot of crap to deal with recently. Don’t beat yourself up. Others have suggested finishing the sweater and keeping it for the next grand-baby or donating it. I would finish it and donate/give it away. Make Elliott a new sweater (one that does not have possible negative juju frogging and reknitting this sweater may contain). Maybe Elliott got into your head to say “I have enough of that colour Gammy let’s get more colour!”


  22. Agreeing with many others before me. Baby sweater too small for the intended baby? Of course, the best solution is to find a newer, smaller baby!

    I started knitting your Nouveau-ne about a year ago (at eight months pregnant), thinking “Oh it’s a quick little thing; I’ll surely have it done before the baby arrives”. As the Baby is now in 12 months clothes & the layette is still short a bonnet & one bootee….finding a new baby is really the only solution.

  23. I understand that you hate you. It even makes sense that you should. And you can, if you want, but the rest of us will just go on loving your perfectly imperfect you-ness. Sorry, we just have to.

  24. We love you. We know you make far less knitting mistakes than we do. That your house really is cleaner than ours and you always have Christmas cookies stashed in your house for when any children visit (that’s children of any age). Thanks for reminding us that we are all human and you are a wonderful human being.

  25. We have all made mistakes. Don’t frog it, save it for the next grandson or you could auction it off here and money can go towards your bike rally. Just a thought. Love the sweater. .

  26. Yes, give the sweater to a smaller baby and make Elliot a bigger one, rather than trying to pick this one apart. I only say that because I’ve had some bad experiences with trying to rip things back (yarn getting stuck on itself so it won’t rip back and the project ends up rolled in a ball in permanent time-out.) But then, you are the Harlot. May the knitting gods be with you.

  27. I think you should declare this sweater perfect, save it for a smaller baby and knit Version #2 (larger) for Elliot.

  28. I just knit myself a sweater that I made exactly according to the pattern. Not my measurements. I have been knitting for 30+ years and my size hasn’t changed in over 10. I submit myself for King of Denial.

  29. “A unicorn would spit on it” !!!! I’m most certainly laughing with you and not at you, because I’m finishing the hat from hell for the third time. This time I don’t care if it looks stupid, because I’m done, whether the hat is or not. (Just about passed a cappuccino out my nose when I read that, though.) Thank you for making me laugh rather than cry.

  30. I don’t understand why anyone would ever make this mistake. It makes no sense to knit something that is not matching gauge. That’s just insane!

  31. OMG I get this completely, and I am sorry but your sentence about babies shrinking made me laugh out loud! I am sorry and I know that frustration, but thank you so much for the laugh- like out loud- at work!

  32. OMG! Funny and painful.

    We need to invent a new work (to go along with tink, WIP’s and so on) – to address blocking denial:

    blocking psychosis
    blocking blindness
    blocking fever

    It happens to all of us.

  33. You now get to pour twice as much love into the sweater. And re-fondle the yarn!

    Okay – I’m trying to be the optimist here.

  34. I recently ripped out half a fair isle hat because it seemed small. I read somewhere that I should trust my knitter instinct…

  35. Been there, done that, except the other way and could not figure out why I needed 10 more balls of yarn! And I kept knitting! Pit-y-a-ble-stupid-me. I have not frogged it yet. All sewn up with proper sleeves and huge body. Funny, but not!

  36. Mine is a similar story, except the sweater is for me. There is no way that sweater is going to cover my 38DDD boobs. My only consolation is that my granddaughter is 8 and eventually it will fit her, if only for a week. PS. I sewed on the buttons

  37. I just ripped out the shoulders and body of an adult man’s lopi sweater (knit in sockweight yarn) because it was too big. Not just too long, but too wide the entire way up. I guess I thought my husband was taller and wider than he actually is. I actually started it again, with smaller needles and the smallest size. I got to keep the sleeves, because they fit, inexplicably. It’s this sweater, if anyone’s interested: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/mens-kerbstone

  38. I’m really sorry that you have to frog the sweater, but I can’t tell you how happy I am that I am not the only one who does this. Thanks

  39. I have a lovely trunk shaped wooden box where I put the wee garments for my grandchild to come when someday my son finds the right girl. They are special things I knit for that little life I may never even meet. Perhaps a small box for your next grandchild would be a place to put this sweater to build future memories…..

  40. Find a child it fits. Totally not worth making yourself crazy frogging. Or better yet put it away for the next grandchild. I’m sure there will be more ;-D

  41. I made a sweater for a new born, it will probably fit for two minutes, I’ve been knitting for sixty years. No these mistakes follow us forever

  42. I applaud your faith in magic dust, unicorns, and miracles! And I am shocked-shocked-that the elves didn’t make this right!
    I had something block out once, but only because it was too big to start with and I’d been hoping for some “magic shrinkage”. The elves didn’t fix that one, either.

    This post is one of the reasons we love you so much!

  43. Oh, I don’t know. I keep having my daughter try on the sweater I’m making for her (age 7) figuring she’s bound to shrink sometime…right? Somehow the parts that fit fine at one point are magically too small now. I am in the middle of remaking sleeve two, but am going to have to do some crazy wide button bands to get it to fit in the middle. (Already steeked fair isle: there is no frogging…)

  44. Do you have more of that yarn to make Elliott a sweater out of? (Should we all check our stashes?) Because you just made the perfect gift for the next grand baby, or friend’s baby, and if you’re going to do the work anyway you might as well keep all that work you’ve done and do another. Because it’s a beautiful sweater and it would be a shame to lose it.

  45. I would rather scrub the inside of my toilet (with a paper towel, not brush) than knit a gauge swatch. This has bitten me so much in the ass, you would think I might fit into my jeans. [We’re just a few months apart in age, Stephanie, (though you have a decade more knitting experience)]

    Hang in there—I’m with those who say start a new sweater (though I can understand wanting to redo this one)

  46. I feel so much better about all of my questionable life choices right now. All knitting and non-knitting choices that I have made knowing full well that things wouldn’t work out as expected but went ahead and did the thing anyway.
    From buying that ugly pair of pants even after I’d tried them on and knew damn well that my arse didn’t fit inside them, to dating that guy (okay, maybe there was more than one guy) who I knew was bad news and not trustworthy, to parking my car on that corner that had a very clear “no parking” sign in front of it. I knew how all of these scenarios would work out and I did them anyway hoping that this time my bad decision would result in a joyful outcome.

  47. Oh Stephanie,
    Your have put lots of love into the sweater you have knitted for Elliott and he won’t be able to wear it. Sad, but so knitterley optimistic that all of us can relate to your angst with the outcome.
    If you have enough yarn then do your calculations and begin again.
    I appreciate the fact that you share your shortcomings with us – don’t beat yourself up – we are a WIP too.

  48. But it’s such an easy sweater to make! Go ahead, frog it and make another. Laugh all the while….
    Love this pattern. Made it myself a few times and haven’t been sick of it yet.

  49. I’m going to disagree with most commenters here. You’re already in Denial, so don’t try swimming upstream — that sweater doesn’t look like it will fit a baby.

    But, there may be an answer IF you have enough yarn left over (and/or buy more yarn for Elliot’s sweater). Find a doll this sweater will fit. Buy doll, finish sweater, put sweater on doll. Use this combination as a visual aid when you teach the importance of swatching!

  50. This is where you call Department of Child Services (or whatever they call it in Canada) or your local church and ask if there isn’t a darling baby boy who needs a sweater like this. Your penance to the Knitting Gods.

  51. After several months of Christmas glove/ mitten/ sock knitting, and then several projects of to-be-donated hat knitting, I decided it was time to commit to a full-sized project, so I mortgaged the house and bought some lovely yarn for a cardigan for me. All me.

    I did make a tiny swatch, and then didn’t get gauge, which I knew would happen because I never get gauge. But I liked the fabric I did get, so I just cast on for the next size and am hoping for the best. Raglan sleeves can be made a tad wider to compensate, right? And it won’t have buttons, so doesn’t really have to meet in the front, right? It will be fine.

    And yes, I appreciate the irony of confessing this here, at the bottom of this particular post. Seems we are none of us the only fool to do x.

    Thank you for another lovely post, Stephanie. I feel much less alone.

    PS: another vote for sewing on those buttons and starting fresh for Elliot. Those of us who never get gauge live by the rule that “it will always fit somebody.”

  52. My Mom always said “Hate is a strong word and should never be said about people.” So, hate the fact that you didn’t do a swatch, but please don’t hate yourself. You had a beautiful thought–to make Elliot a sweater, and you tried. Next time you’ll do better! Love to you. Be kind to yourself.

  53. So it’s Winter, right (I’m in Australia, it’s hot here so must be cold there). Haven’t you written book chapters about women who hide pregnancies in Winter under coats, and then present babies to the world in the Spring? You have surprise baby cardigan ready to go… For when it gets a bit older.

  54. I try and think of such situations as a sort of preview for the finished item (I usually do at least one drastic frogging per project!), then I curse myself for sewing the ends in so thoroughly – every. single. time.

  55. I know. That yarn is so awesome lovely, and you so enjoyed knitting all those hats in it, and you so love this adorable sweater, that you really, really wanted to knit this sweater twice, just to enjoy the knitting of it even more. Am I right?

  56. Been there, done that and that and that and that……….

    One good note: in this crazy world, when much should argue otherwise, you are an optimist.

  57. I virtually never swatch. (I know.) Mostly I make things that it doesn’t matter too much, like shawls and baby things (babies come in all sizes, right?) – but if I’m making for a specific baby, I knit a size bigger because they grow while I’m knitting it! (You knit like the wind, so that probably isn’t an issue for you!) When it comes out too small, I give it to charity – because babies come in all sizes…

    You said you have a ton of that left – do you have enough to just give this away (or save for another baby)?

  58. Actually, blocking does make sweaters bigger. It makes them a lot bigger, but only when you don’t want them bigger.
    I knit a sweet sweater for my newborn granddaughter, and blocked it, and she is wearing it now, at age 17 months. I knit a vest for my daughter which fit perfectly until I blocked it; then I had to machine-wash it and throw it IN THE DRYER (100% wool) to get it back to her size. I just finished a sweater for myself and I’m wearing it now. It’s a little roomy, which is how I like it, and I’m afraid to block it, because then I will have to felt it to make it the right size again.
    Of course if the sweaters were too small this would not be true.

  59. OK, I was sympathetic, and understanding. Nodding my head, “Yes, this could happen.” Not rolling my eyes, or shaking my head. Too much. Until we got to #9.
    Dude, you wove in the ends?!?!?!?
    I fell off the couch laughing. Yup, only the addition of buttons would have made it better.

  60. Find a teddy bear that the sweater will fit and then knit E one that fits to match. Delete this post and pretend that this was your plan all along when you blog about the two sweaters.

  61. You may temporarily feel that you hate you, but remember that WE love you! You help us keep from hating ourselves and our projects that we screw up. One of the things that I have always respected about you is your straight on honesty and ability to talk about the mistakes we ALL make. You keep us real by being real yourself. Hugs, dear Steph!

  62. If you haven’t pulled it apart yet, then don’t. Just re-knit. There will be another baby. And now you have a sweater ready to go. The time you “save” will be post to unpicking everything. Just knit a new one.

  63. Any chance this was hospital knitting? I made a slouch hat, fingering weight yarn, knowing it was too big. I was waiting in a hospital and had to knit so I didn’t kill all the people around me. Yup, ends tucked, too. Frogged, I think it wants to be a scarf instead.
    I’ve only been knitting for 5 years, so I appreciate hearing about your mishaps.

    • Any chance this was hospital knitting? I made a slouch hat, fingering weight yarn, knowing it was too big. I was waiting in a hospital and had to knit so I didn’t kill all the people around me. Yup, ends tucked, too. Frogged, I think it wants to be a scarf instead.
      I’ve only been knitting for 5 years, so I appreciate hearing about your mishaps. P.S. please let us know if you just make another one, or frog & reknit.

  64. I have been knitting for 17 years and I have only learned two things. 1. It NEVER blocks out (I am so glad you said that, I thought there was something wrong with me) and 2. You will only be happy if you rip it out and redo it (I am on the third iteration of a large woman’s sweater’s collar, button bands and neckline shaping – in sport weight. I am considering a fourth run… Really, it makes sense. Gauge swatches lie and I’m not very good at following directions). Oh, wait, that is the other thing I learned. Gauge swatches lie!

  65. Sometimes when things aren’t right or don’t feel right it feels good to mess something up. It is like you put at the not-right feelings into an object, like it is some sort of proof.

  66. Òoooooooooooo, what a nice baby sweater swatch! Now you can start knitting a bigger sweater.

    This warm up was intentional (wink).

  67. Got gauge on the baby vest, then promptly skipped circling all numbers for size being knit and knit a size using both 0-3 AND 3-6 months.

  68. I was nodding along until I got to 9. Then I wove in all the ends. That was the part that broke me. I shouted (internally) Noooo! What are you DOING?!?!?! even though I’ve totally been guilty of that myself.

    Oh, Stephanie. We love you. And your willingness to be honest with us about your humanity is a big part of why. You wove in the ends. OMG. I love you so much.

    Also, it’s comforting to know that experienced knitters just make bigger mistakes faster. I have knit a sweater for my son, where I ignored the fact that he hates sweaters that aren’t giant on him. I thought he’d wear it as a layer. I thought he’d need at least one form-fitting sweater. The sleeves are too tight and uncomfortable. I need to rip it. I haven’t. For like, a year at least? Thank you for giving me the inspiration to go rip that sweater so I can reknit it and he can wear it during his last two years in Massachusetts. It will do him no good in California.

    Mwah! So much love and hugs to you! You are amazeballs. OMG I’m laughing XD (mostly with you, but a teetiny bit at you, and at myself, for when I do this, and at humanity, because OMG there is just something so human about hoping for magic unicorn dust lol)

  69. Well, WE love you… Because, you are JUST LIKE US.

    The sweater is beautiful, and the next incarnation of the sweater will be even moreso.

    xoxo CGF

  70. Alas. How I wish it weren’t so. I’m sure that these decisions will never be made ever again. Until next time, anyway….

  71. This makes me feel better about the huge, epic fails that accompany all of my weaving projects. I’ve only had the loom for a year, so I’m calling it my learning curve. On the plus side, each mistake has been so painful to fix that I definitely won’t do it again. (I’m hopeful that there is a limit to the mistakes I can make.)

    • When I was learning photography, one of the college instructors said that all photographers make 10,000 mistakes and that our job was to just go ahead and make them so we could stop making them sooner.

  72. This reminds me of something Dumbledore told Harry in the Half-Blood Prince:

    “I make mistakes like the next man. In fact, being–forgive me–rather cleverer than most men, my mistakes tend to be correspondingly huger.”

  73. Very interesting mental games you played with yourself there. Sort of an eyes-wide-open situation. You doubled down.
    I wonder if there’s a mathematical calculation that could determine pattern size/knitting speed/gauge/baby growth..to arrive at a vortex point in the future when the item will fit future bigger-baby. A knitter’s Hail Mary pass.

  74. So, this may have already been mentioned (No, I haven’t read through all the comments), but in case it hasn’t, put it in the “Dead Grandma” cedar chest. I have one. It’s where I store the knitted goodies for the grandchildren I may never meet. Ya know, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow & I wouldn’t want my 36 yo daughter (who is not showing any signs of reproducing yet, but who knows?) to think I had favored her brother’s children over hers. :o)

  75. Well, hell. You definitely screwed the pooch on this one. I hate it when I do that. Aggravating, frustrating, infuriating…nothing is quite right.

  76. Welcome to 50. These things will stop happening now, but it’s okay because as my mom would have said”On well, it’s just yarn and a little bit of time” and in the scheme of things it is.

    As a now experienced grandmother-knitter: choose the right size, make it at least one size bigger because for sure they will have grown a whole size in that two weeks it took you to make it. Make the sleeves extra long so they can wear it longer. There will be more babies and this sweater is for the next one. Make another, two sizes bigger.

    Happy Birthday.

  77. Please don’t hate yourself. You are amazing and so is the sweater. The fact that you persisted in knitting it to the end despite your instinct telling you it would be too small is proof of your enormous love and devotion to your grandson. I hope the ripping out and re-knitting – if that’s what you decide to do – isn’t too painful. Hugs from Montreal

  78. Seems clear that the only mistake was that you were sure you were knitting for Elliot (because, after all, who else…?!). But once those buttons are on, I bent you’ll find its Cinderella down at Sick Children’s.

  79. I knit a sweater like that. It was in alternating 4-row stripes of 7 different colors. I knit the whole thing. I even wove in all the rotten ends of all the differing colors.

    THEN I took a good look at it and realized it was way too wide and would never fit my slender little niece.

    Did I swatch? Of course not. Had I ever knit with that yarn before? Of course not. Did I check the sweater against all the measurements that I had for my niece? Not a single one.

    Your are not the only one.

  80. Give it to a passing baby. There are lots in the world but some don’t have a lovely gran to knit for them. Go on – make someone’s day.

  81. I’m doing just the same thing now. I’m knitting Tambourine by Pompom Quarterly and I’m 90% sure that I won’t be able to do the buttons up. I’ve heard myself say “it will block out” or even more believable” I’ll lose weight.” Yeah right who am I kidding, but I still keep knitting! X

  82. Sew the buttons on and put it in the gift drawer. Then you have it to hand as the perfect swatch for starting the next one. You like knitting, it’s what you do so just knit another from the start. You may need to buy more yarn, oh dear what a shame.

    I will be 55 this year but I didn’t start knitting until I was 7 as mum was a leftie and wouldn’t teach me.

  83. I find this so reassuring! And to all those who say to give it to someone else, that’s a lovely idea, but I love the way we can undo mistakes in knitting and make things the way we want. We rarely get that opportunity in life.

    • THIS! It’s one of my favorite things about knitting, and one of the things that make me feel like knitting makes me braver in real life, because I can let myself make mistakes in knitting. I can always rip and reknit. Other things are less forgiving, but the courage often carries over.

  84. I’m going to go ahead and quote yourself back to you. It’s one of my favorite quotes, and I tell new knitters this all the time…

    “The only difference between an experienced knitter and new knitter is that the experienced knitter makes bigger mistakes faster. Be bold; there are no terrible consequences in knitting.”

  85. Yep, I vote for saving for the next baby to come along. There is sure to be one! I have quite a stash ready for an unexpected baby shower!

  86. I have been knitting for going on seventy years – and I still make stupid mistakes – this time it was an aran sweater for my husband – turns out that it will fit both of us – at the same time!! Ah well, Son number two is a big lad – tho’ this one will be hugh!!! (didn’t do tension square, yarn stretched almightily when blocked). Still, at least I enjoyed knitting it! Its only knitting. better luck with the next one.

  87. The sweater is adorable. I agree with everyone who said to hang on to this for another child and start a new one. And give yourself a break. Being on health watch is very stressful, so you should continue to allow yourself to just knit for the therapy of it.

  88. I am sure there is a smaller baby out there who would love a warm sweater! It’s darn cute, and it seems a shame to rip it out when you could knit another one (assuming you have enough yarn) and keep two kids warm rather than just one.

  89. I’m in agreement on either raffling it off or stowing it away for the next grandchild…provided you still have enough yarn to knit another, since you are trying to match already-mades, after all.

    I also offer up what I hope might make you feel less disagreeable with yourself: The other day, I completely zoned out while seaming together my daughter’s pullover, and stitched the neck opening closed.

    I did not realize this until after I’d put in the first sleeve.


  90. Ahh, the lessons of life! I have the sneaking suspicion that I do this in my everyday life regularly, which is not funny, but seeing it in knitting terms and realizing that it’s kind of universal makes it easier to see the funny side. Thanks for the smile you’ve put on my face, this morning and so many others. Stephanie, I think you’re wonderful!

  91. I well understand the hating oneself. Sounds like me when I plan to make a complicated dish to bring for a dinner party. I know it will take more time than I have, but I persist, until I’m assembling brownie mix brownies 10 minutes after I was supposed to be there.

  92. 6 Feb was my 52nd birthday. A good belly laugh is the perfect present. Thank you, Stephanie!

    Gifts knit for future grandchildren and stored until they come along is a powerful story of love. Will make them feel extra special while wearing it. And give adults good laughs for years (generations?) as the “real” story is shared.

  93. My sons both have at atleast 2 sweaters that never got worn because they were too small…

    They LIVE with me, I handle them daily, I KNOW they are enormous.

    The only way I’ll get these sweaters to fit a family member is if there’s a premie. Instead they will go to someone else I reeeeeaaaaally like. No time to reknit with toddlers.

  94. Stephanie,
    I liked the idea to put this sweater on a teddy bear and knit another one for Elliot. That way Elliot and the bear match.
    Thank you so much for the courage to tell us about your mistakes. I am so glad to hear that I am not the only person who does something even when they know it will turn out incorrectly.
    Love your honesty and humor

  95. Haven’t we all done this very thing? And tried to stretch things out, or shrink them up in blocking.

    I give you credit for being willing to rip it out and do it again, because I would sew some cheap old buttons on it and donate it, or put the nice buttons on and save it until someone somewhere had a baby just that size or smaller.

  96. ***HUGE SIGH*** because I’m feeling like you’re trying to say that the sweater I’m about to finish for myself isn’t going to “block out” to be the right length. Because I knit the entire sweater, knowing with my 15+ years of knitting experience that I always want to stop the body at 15 inches, but really, I hate sweaters that are 15 inches long….I hate them. They are not long enough. But I stopped there because I swear that it will block out longer. And now I’m kinda feeling like you’re saying it won’t….I know it won’t, but I still didn’t want you to say it won’t! LOL

  97. You know what would be worse? If he were big enough to *know* that the sweater was for him. If he picked out the colors and style. And if you had already made one for his big sister. And it was a Christmas present. And it didn’t fit… so she didn’t get to wear her “very own” sweater on Christmas, even tho her mom and uncles and sister all had their very own Christmas Sweater. And if she said “It’s ok, Grandma. I shouldn’t have grown so fast.”

    And if you think I’m going to forget that one soon, you’re mistaken.

  98. Thank you for writing this thoughtful post as a warning to all of us. We will all ignore it forever because that is what we do. Swatch? Ha!

  99. EZ’s logic would be to give that one to someone of the right size, and go on with another. Why waste the effort? Just a thought, because you can honestly do whatever will give you pleasure.

    Love your honesty and efforts. Hugs to you . . .

  100. You have no idea how good this makes me feel. I have been working on my third stranded knitting project, Ysolda’s Milet mittens. Figured out how to knit with the stranding on the outside, improves my tension no end. Finished the first hand turned it right side out………the decorative cuff was inside out. I double reversed.

  101. I’ve experienced something very similar quite recently. I knitted and then frogged the same hat twice before settling for the third version, just to get the darned thing off the needles. It isn’t perfect (which grates!) but it is mostly OK and I’m about to cover up the worst bits with a large pompom. Back onto the soothing tones of a larger gauge jersey for my daughter, yay.

  102. Well I’m a solid month younger than you so that definitely means there’s no hope for me. I have an additional point for your consideration, which is that sometimes I keep knitting or crocheting something all wrong because I just sat down with my tea and I don’t really feel like getting up just then to get the scissors/correct needle/pattern/whatever. Sometimes my own stupidity is actually kind of soothing. At least I’m not a surgeon.

  103. I am so sorry about this adorable sweater. I know you will make it right.

    And while you really do have my sympathy, I was laughing out loud as I read. Not the least because you have such a way with words and stories, but even more because I have taken your blocking admonitions to heart! I even have your March 26, 2014 post pinned on one of my Pinterest boards with the caption, “The Yarn Harlot shows us how and tells us why – about blocking yarn projects.”!! It doesn’t stretch! (except lace)

    Yes, denial can be such a leading force! I have gone down that river many times. Thank you dear Harlot for the reminder.

  104. Ripping out a whole sweater is a tribute to your love of grandbabies AND knitting. I did that with Cabled sweater for my 6’6″ son when he confessed that he never wore it because the sleeves were too long… and I didn’t know (at the time) how to shorten the sleeves that had cables. I frogged it, knit it in a different pattern. I still don’t see him wearing it often… but it IS Cashmerino aran and even in Massachusetts it has to be really cold to want that much warmth.
    Happy almost birthday.

  105. This is not a total mistake. There is a child somewhere who needs this sweater, perhaps desperately. Instead of destroying a perfectly wonderful sweater send it into the world to find its owner. Then make a new sweater for Eliot

  106. You must have wanted to knit exactly this sweater, which is why you ignored all signs and knit it. So embrace your desires, and finish it. You can save it for a future baby of your acquaintance, or you can donate it to a group that will pass it on to a current baby who needs a beautiful, warm sweater from a master knitter. Then start fresh on one for Elliot. And swatch.

  107. I agree with many other posters on The Blog that you should cut your losses and stash it in the “Grandbaby to Be Box” (but then that baby will also need a hat…) and knit Elliott another sweater. It is not like you don’t like knitting…

    I love your “Boy, was I in denial…” posts the most…because if you craft, you have those moments.

    However, in light of recent events, I think you are due for some “unicorn spit”…or “flying pigs”…or whatever else rocks your boat.

  108. So, you’re saying I should knit a swatch for the baby sweater I’m going to knit a co-worker?

    BTW, I agree, start over with new yarn, keep this sweater for the next baby who comes into your world.

  109. I do this all the time. I have a boy and I’ve knitted him a sweater on my machine and it was waaaay to big and it was for his baptism! I was so mad. But then I realized that it didn’t fit him this week but it was going to fit him the next and honestly it’s all for the babies we love. Take a picture of him in it and save it for the next baby(because someone we know is always having a baby lol).

  110. I also learned to knit at four, Stephanie, so that gives me 60 years of experience and yet, didn’t I use exactly the same thinking last night while making a sock monkey hat for a gift for a one year old. Thankfully a small project, but the face was embroidered, the Pom Pom attached and the button eyes sewn on before I finally measured it, confirming what I knew all along. It’s too small and no amount of blocking will fix it. I will start another one tonight. Best wishes with Elliot’s sweet sweater.

  111. MmmmmNOPE . It was your inner grandma’s fault. You KNEW that Elliott has probably DOUBLED in size because that’s what grand babies do especially when their relatives knit for them. Since you were reworking a pattern, you knew you probably didn’t have enough yarn (Murphy’s knitting law: it won’t block out just because you didn’t have enough yarn) so you did a smaller size because there’s probably another baby coming round this year from someone in your family. Now that you have the pattern mod figured out, make it even bigger. Because Elliott grew again while we were chatting.

  112. Stephanie, Your post today had me both laughing and crying. Last June I was working to complete an Aran Sweater for my husband. He had sent away to Ireland for the wool (more than 2 years before), I took a course in cable knitting and had enlisted the help of several experienced knitters to help me along the way. As I worked happily away I just knew it was too big. But did I stop – NO! I was sure by some miracle he would grow (at 65 not likely!) or the unicorn would spread its magic dust and it would fit. Neither happened and the sweater sits – unfinished but way too big. The saddest part for me is I have hardly knit anything since then. I don’t trust myself. Maybe I should just go back to dishcloths. Every once in a while I think – should I rip it back or steek it as I did knit the body in the round. Anyway your post made me realize that even the most experienced knitters make the same type of mistake and I need to get over it! Thanks for the help you bring with all your posts!

  113. Laughing, crying,, laughing again.
    Give yourself a break. Remember that we love you.
    One of the funniest episodes ever!!!

  114. Recently did the same thing. I knit an adorable sweater for my two year old grandson. Intarsia tree and deer, sewn-on apple buttons, corrugated ribbing. Really cute and really labor intensive.
    It seemed too small but on I knit.
    He looks like a little sausage in it. I offered to rip and reknit but my daughter-in-law, bless her, said it was fine.
    At least Elliott is your first grandchild and you can save the sweater for grandbabies to come.
    Ronan is the 12th and last so that sweater will await his kids

  115. It seems that most want this sweater to be saved for another baby. It is a fine solution but I know that when something is being made for a special person, as Elliott certainly is, one wants that particular thing to be the one given. So if you want to rip it back and make it fit do it! I love you dearly and your post made me laugh because I so recognize the mental gymnastics!

  116. When I read “…I think I can just go back to the divide for the sleeves” the first thing I thought was “and that will be #11 on the list”. Honestly, you haven’t knit Elliot’s sweater. You’ve knit somebody else’s sweater. Hand it over to the Sally Ann (or whoever) and re-knit. It’ll be faster, it’ll be a lovely sweater, and somebody else will have a lovely sweater, too.

  117. I do hope Steph reads this blog she usually does! Once (I have no idea when) there was another mis-knit occasion and the Blog said “Stop … don’t rip do [something clever-er]” and it all made sense and that is what she did and was grateful to you all.

    In the moments of hating ourselves we find it really hard to think creatively. (And my virtual friend, Steph, I gently suggest you are only hating yourself because right now there is a lot more tough stuff in life going on than this sweater. ) Be as kind to yourself now as you would were it Sam who had made this mistake: point and laugh, sure, but hate is too much, and far more than one sweater is worth.

    Love and hugs, Sprog (who you don’t know at all, but is one of the many Blog-followers who cares about you!)

  118. Thank you so much for keeping it real. I needed a chuckle this morning. Where are those dang spitting unicorns when we need them?

  119. Ah ha…I see what you did there, now I get it! A river in Egypt…”de” Nile (denial). I’m a little slow this morning, more coffee please 🙂

  120. Now if this was me, it would have probably gone something like this:

    – I know that I prefer the fabric that this yarn makes when I knit at a tighter gauge. Time for the calculator! I’ll re-write the pattern!
    – Sit down with large mug of tea, pattern, paper, pencil, and calculator. Set to doing the math.
    – Remember that I am useless at the math.
    – Persevere anyway, practising “positive self talk”.
    – Get antsy about the math, because ADHD, and decide to cast on as now I know what I’m doing. Tell myself I’ll calculate the changes for the armhole shaping once I get there.
    – Remember that the classic procrastinator’s mantra is “I’ll feel more like doing that tomorrow” and that that particular “tomorrow” never comes. Decide that this time I’ll be immune to that magical thinking and leave it for later. Because I don’t learn.
    – Get to the armhole shaping. Remember that the calculations still need to be done.
    – Find another project to work on.

    The ripping back might make you feel better. If that’s the case, then go for it! If we never made (stupid) mistakes, then we wouldn’t have the good stories. xx

  121. It makes me feel better…that even you…the most amazing knitter can make mistakes. I’m in despair and feeling like I’m a terrible knitter because I’ve made some mistake on a shawl called “all my stitches”. It is such an easy pattern and yet I have made some huge mistake. I could rip out but I really don’t know how I did it. I could carry on but it really is a big weird mistake and I’m not sure how it will look in the end. I would say I’m an intermediate knitter…I’ve been knitting for years but mostly easy patterns…and I really feel disheartened that I got this wrong. I’m also impatient so when something goes wrong like this…I just want to forget the whole thing.

  122. I’m not sure it will help you with the current sting of your situation, but I do want you to know it makes me feel better that there are other people in the world who forge ahead with something that is clearly a mistake, despite logic and experience telling said person differently. I feel like I do this regularly and knowing that I’m not alone warms my heart. <3 <3 <3

  123. I’m voting with the crowd of, “save it for another baby”. It is too soul crushing to rip it out. Start over like it never happened! I’m pretty good at denial (apparently so are you given the above) so…….
    Move on with a new, hopeful, larger Elliot sweater.

  124. I had to run, so cutting right to the bottom line: Add the buttons and put the cardigan up for auction to benefit your next fund drive. One of your faithful readers will buy it. For. Sure.

  125. I once knit an entire dress, knowing perfectly well that the pattern called for worsted weight and I was using DK, and thinking that if I used the same size needles as the pattern asked for, I would get a dress in the correct size. Wrong! The looser fabric stretched and stretched and now I have all the pieces knit for a dress for a size 8 who is 6 foot tall. It’s bundled away, waiting for me to re-write the pattern and then re-knit.

  126. I snorted,when I read, “… so I knit the second tiny stupid too small sleeve.”
    It’s infuriating to know it won’t get any better with age, and yet it entirely comforting to know I’m not alone.
    (I ripped out 3/4 of a sweater last week because-shockingly-having a smaller row gauge eats yarn. Gasp! Did you know?)

  127. Yet another time when I laugh out loud and when my family asks what I’m laughing at, all I can say is “um… nothing.” Stephanie, you are the best!

  128. Ah, denial… De Nile, a river in Egypt. Lovely sweater and it will still be a lovely sweater when you reknit it for that sweet little boy. x

  129. I literally feel your pain. I did the exact same thing for my granddaughter who is 5. Buttonband, buttonholes, sleeves, the whole bit, but not the buttons. The biggest shock is that I DID do a swatch. Tried 3 needles sizes and picked the fabric I liked best. I even washed the swatch (I never do this!). Then proceeded to knit the entire sweater with the appropriate needles at a tighter gauge. WHAT?? If my swatches lie to me, what next? Trying it with different yarn this time.

  130. Oh yes being human! I just never expected you were one too! I thought you were super human because I had you on a pedestal! (tee hee)
    Love your writing so very much!
    Love your dilemmas and how you show your humanity even more!

  131. There’s just nothing like Knitter’s Optimism. It’s that happy place we all go to when we’re just knitting along and enjoying it so much that we just keep going – inspite of that little voice that every so quietly whispers – this isn’t going to work . . .

    Sorry about the sweater, Steph. I’m with the others, put it away for the next grandbaby – the sweater’s gorgeous.

  132. Oh, no, unpicking is definitely not the right decision. Surely you would only do that if you had AbsoLutey NO other yarn that you could possibly use. We know this to be untrue. We know you have a stash 🙂 And some child somewhere, now or in the future, needs that jumper that you have so lovingly knitted.

  133. “That’ll probably block right out” is my favorite thing to tell myself whenever I’ve gone a little too far in any project (not limited to knitting) and simply don’t want to face starting all over again. And I’ve now used it often enough that my non-knitter friends are using it, too. Denial disguised at optimism!

  134. As much as all the “nooo! don’t frog! give it to a smaller baby!” comments are well-intentioned… my first thought on seeing the first pic was “dang, Steph, those sleeves are SUPER skinny, what are you on?!”

    (I’ve been in baby-sweater-pattern purgatory, my boss is pregnant, and moreover a very sweet person who’s been amazingly accommodating the last few months. So, you know. The hunt is on for the PERFECT layette.)

  135. Happy almost (well, you know-will be here before you know it!) Birthday!!

    The cool thing is that when you are 54, you can celebrate 50 years of knitting. And, like today, still look like you can’t possibly have been a knitter for more than 25 yrs max……ah, Canada!

  136. Yep. Save it for the next gradbaby. Then you will be ahead of the game on the Team Harlot Knitwear Collection. If it’s too small for a tiny human, the team could have a mascot stuffed bear with a matching sweater.

  137. It is so refreshing to read what you have posted about Elliott’s sweater. It gives us all hope to carry on with our knitting, with our learning, with our shortcomings in whatever area. What a breath of fresh air. Thank you!

  138. I recently did something similar. In fairness, I do not have quite the same amount of experience as you do, however, I knew that I should have known better and pressed on anyway. I started a sweater I have been coveting with too little yarn. I did swatch, albeit with a completely different yarn, and despite the fact that I knew there would come a time when I would simply run out, I kept going. It was like some strange universal force was making me do it, even though I knew I was going to have to take the entire thing out, eventually.

    Guess what? That’s exactly what happened.

  139. Start Elliott’s Baby Brother or Sister hope chest & knit him a larger one. That’d be easier than unpicking all the woven in ends ,,,,,, But thanks for reminding me that even experienced knitters make mistakes (notice I didn’t say stupid mistakes). Oops. I just did. Sorry.

  140. You and I will be 50 almost a month apart. I will have been knitting for 37 years… but really an obsessed knitter for about 31 years.

    I STILL FORGET (no… ignore) GAUGE for little things.

    We’re allowed… we’re almost 50… anything is allowable… I made a list of 50 things I will do the year I am 50 and believe me… anything is allowable.

    Happy Tuesday!

  141. This is one of the things that got me hooked on your blog and books. I started reading when you were knitting little sweaters for Hank. I loved how you would show us the mistakes, and how you fixed them. It made me look at my knitting in a whole new way.

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  143. I did something similar recently with a stole. I followed the pattern exactly but then as I began the final four edging rows I knew in my heart of hearts it wasn’t going to be deep enough. The photos of the project didn’t show how long it fell across the back, only on the shoulders. But I kept on, bound off, tried it on. It was only slightly wider than a good-sized scarf, a ridiculous depth for a stole that’s meant to actually keep you warm. I was angry at myself for not following my instincts and adding at least three more rounds of 12 row pattern. Long story short: I ripped out the bind-off row, and the four rows of edging and it’s back on my needles. (Did I mention it was 224 stitches? Lots of swearing and perspiration during the ripout.)

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