He’s good at sharing

First things first – I posted this on instagram, but here is home – so once more with feeling,

Guess who’s going to be a big brother? We’re all terrifically excited, except for maybe Elliot who talks a good game and generally seems in favour, but definitely has no idea what’s headed his way. He’s got a little while to get it together though, baby won’t be arriving until March (the sign means March 2020, not March 20th, 2020, which is neither accurate, nor a detail she’s silly enough to reveal online. Who on earth needs the whole internet knowing if your baby is late? A watched uterus never contracts, I tell you that. The kid will be here sometime around March. Or maybe February. Or maybe April. We’ll never tell.) Elliot’s birthday is the 8th April, and it’s unlikely he’ll share it with a sibling, but he’ll definitely be almost three when the interloper arrives, and quite equipped to start sharing his family. He is very good at sharing most other things thus far, and is a gentle and loving guy, so he’s prime big brother material.

I got so excited about telling you (we’ve known for a little while, but Meg wanted to wait a while before posting) that I immediately cast on a little sweater for the new baby, thinking that I’d have it all done and ready to show you. I’d post a picture of the tiny sweater, and I’d say something charming like “Guess what” and you’d all guess right and it would be amazing. (Remember what I said about scripting? Yeah, I did it again.)

I had the perfect yarn and pattern all ready, and I supposed I could have started it before Meg said I could tell you about it, but that I think it’s really smart to hold off on investing in human sparks. Mother Nature can be a very harsh editor, so I waited, as one does, and then on Friday I decided that I was going to knit this sweater by Monday, or more technically, I was going to finish this sweater by Sunday night and then I’d have time to block it before Monday. I know that sounds very speedy, but it was a very tiny sweater. (It’s Norwegian Fir, in case you’re wondering. Absolutely charming and simple and just the thing for a brand new person. The yarn is a long loved and unnamed super soft merino that I had in the stash just waiting for its opportunity.)

That’s why you couldn’t have shocked me more when A) it started coming out much bigger than I expected and B) was taking a lot longer than planned. (A and B were clearly related.) The first time I thought “my, this seems a little bigger than I thought it would be” I did what we all do when knitting looks a bit funny. I kept going and hoped the problem would go away.

The second time that I thought “this really does look large, and why are the armholes so deep?” I did what we all do when you can no longer ignore a knitting problem, I started double checking things. I had knit a swatch, and I had even washed it, and I had let it dry before I counted stitches, and I had made it big enough that it should work, and I had used the same needles… and the same yarn… nevertheless, I went back and double checked all of that. Everything was correct, so I went back to ignoring the problem again, figuring that I must have taken all leave of my senses and forgotten the actual size of babies. I kept knitting.

A few rows later (oh fine it was when I finished the body) there was no denying that it was too big. The fabric looked good, so I knew it wasn’t a gauge problem, but it even looked to me like there were more of the leafy increases on mine then there were on the newborn sized ones in the pictures, but sometimes pictures aren’t accurate or they can be mislabeled or… I went back and checked the pattern this time. Again, everything was fine. I was knitting the smallest size, so I’d highlighted the first set of numbers in each bracket, and yay verily those were the numbers I’d gotten. It was all working, it was all perfect, it was just…. big. I started thinking about how I could alter the pattern to make another one that was smaller, but I was already feeling sort of bad that this delicious yarn wasn’t making what I thought it was. I kept knitting.

By now I was part way down a sleeve, and I was still noticing that it was too big, but you know, I’d double checked everything and it was all so… right, that I figured that even though I could see it was wrong (obviously wrong) that I must be mistaken. I thought something was going wrong, but nothing was, and so… I kept knitting. I really can’t explain what I was thinking, except that on some level I must have believed that it would be smaller after I did more knitting, that if I stayed the course, it would just work out. How could it not?

Almost at the cuff, I was feeling annoyed because even though I was still following instructions it was getting bigger, not smaller, and I casually tossed my iPad (after checking the pattern again) onto the chesterfield, and as I did that, I swiped with my thumb or finger in a funny way, and the whole pattern swiped to another version of the pattern, and my heart stopped. I looked at it, wondering why there were two versions. Hadn’t noticed that before, and I wondered if maybe one of them was in another language. Probably Norwegian. No- I flipped back and forth, they looked the same. Identical, in fact – except for one little detail.

Do you see it coming? Yup. The first pattern in the set is baby sizes, and the second pattern in the set (with the same picture, but clearly labeled) is big kid sizes. I had, at some inopportune moment right at the beginning, swiped from one to the other, and was now making an absolutely perfect size 2-3 years, instead of 0-3 months.

So- I had a date with a ball winder instead of a blocking bath, and I’ve started all over, and I’ve remembered two things about being an experienced knitter that still clearly apply. First, most mistakes come from a failure to read, and second, experienced knitters don’t make fewer mistakes. We make bigger ones faster.

Yesterday was a travel day for me, and today I’m in Maine (at the last Make Wear Love retreat) with some of my favourite knitters and colleagues- I’ll post more about it tomorrow – today, knitters and the ocean beckon, and I’ve got a sweater to re-knit.

97 thoughts on “He’s good at sharing

  1. I always love when you post about your mistakes. It reminds me that to err is not stupid, but human, and it makes me feel better about my own mistakes. I once knitted the whole back of a men’s XL Aran sweater thinking it looked small, but telling myself it couldn’t be, I had swatched. It was.

    • Been there, done that. Knitting a Fair Isle sweater with some rows with 3 colors!!! I kept telling myself to “trust the swatch”– well, the swatch lied. What should have been a 40″ finished chest was about to be 33″– a bit small! So, it was rip-rip-rip and redo the swatch. Looks like it’s right this time.

  2. First, happy baby!
    Second, thank you for sharing your knitting flubs with us. It gave me a big chuckle this morning and it does make me feel better that someone who has knit longer and much more than me still has issues. We are all mere mortals and the universe will not let us forget that no matter how often we check our work!!

  3. Congratulations to the family and yes, Elliott will no doubt be a fantastic big brother! And I’ve loved every one of your “screw it, keep going” stories. You know, since there’s been more than one…. Much love to you all.

    • I was thinking the same thing. That close to the end I would have finished it for Elliott or future planning and started a new one newborn size. And then I thought, maybe there wasn’t enough yarn for a bigger sweater?

  4. First, congratulations to all. Second, I can’t believe you frogged it. Newborns become size 2 before you know it. For once, you would have had a Christmas sweater ready ahead of schedule! Either way, it’s going to be beautiful.

  5. Congratulations to the whole family! And that photo of Elliot is priceless. I totally agree with you: Most mistakes experienced knitters make are due to not reading. We get all cocky thinking that we have the experience and know what we’re doing and then proceed to royally screw it up. At least your reknit will take much less time!

  6. Oh well. Plans don’t always work out the way we want them to. LOL Sweet sweater pattern! I think I have that one saved, and just learned my friend will be welcoming a baby granddaughter in a couple of months! Hmmmm…. I promised myself I wouldn’t start anything new until I’d finished a few things, and I have a baby girl blanket stashed away, and half another blanket that would work…. but I do like that pattern. .

  7. I’ll agree with some of the others who have posted regarding the knitting flub. It’s comforting that someone of your experience still has them, it makes it easier when I flub.

    And that is a fabulous picture of Elliot.

  8. Aw, heck, just keep going. My late husband, who definitely was NOT a knitter, was so traumatized at the sight of ripping projects back to the beginning that I learned to never do it in his presence.

    • I have to agree with that. My husband sees yarn on the floor after ripping it out, and out of the corner of my eye, I can see him do an about face.

  9. Your blog makes me so happy. My sister is the knitter but I go to you as a guide for life advice, wisdom, and words that make me believe that we are all ok.

  10. I ran into a similar issue with an Icelandic pattern last summer… I knew something was wrong. Read thru the pattern about 17 times. Restarted the piece more than that. Checked gauge and rechecked it… Finally found a bit of errata on an obscure blog that clued me in. I have renamed the pattern “That fscking Icelandic pattern”. It’s beautiful tho… And my friends are envious and are thinking about making it themselves… And want to borrow my notes 🙂
    I just downloaded another one that looks to be as challenging. It’s for after I finish the Christmas knitting as a reward 🙂

  11. Maybe there was a brain cramp here. You had thought about making Elliot a sweater to celebrate his new status as a big brother, then started planning your usual ginormous baby blanket, and those somehow got combined and transmogrified into plans to make a newborn sweater???

    Anyway, congrats to all. Does this mean Penny will be getting a “sibling” too?

  12. First.. the pattern is just divine! The charm of simple garter stitch with just a wee bit of fancy stuff thrown in to elevate the whole thing to the next level. Second.. Maine! Oh how wonderful. 3>

  13. As a size 18, I once knit an entire dress – knee-length, and I’m tall – thinking the whole time that it was awfully small but blocking would make it fit. It didn’t. Poor pattern-reading skills: I had knit size 12. Tight tension: it was really a size 10. I kept wondering why the balls lasted so long.

  14. Congratulations on the new addition. Eliot is going to have a star turn as the big brother. There must be something in the water. There are a lot of babies that are going to arrive in march around here.

  15. Elliot is sure to be a wonderful big brother. His sweet little heart shines out from his face!
    Thanks for sharing your baby sweater story. It’s funny how we carry on in the face of incontrovertible evidence that something is amiss, hoping against hope that it will work out in the end.
    I’m happy I am not the only one!!
    Congratulations on the pending addition to your lovely family.

  16. Congratulations on adding a new member to the clan in 2020.

    Love the story about the sweater. I guess there wasn’t enough yarn to make two? Because babies grow…

  17. Congratulations on the new baby! Thank you for sharing; it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who makes “avoidable” mistakes.

  18. Congrats to all on the impending addition to the family!

    I have made Norwegian Fir once before (loved it!) and am currently making it again. Slogging along because I’m using a different yarn than last time and just not loving it. 🙁
    I do use a paper pattern, so luckily do not have the “swipe” problem. Luckily, you knit like the wind and will have the correct size knocked out in short order.

  19. Oh Steph, I love you. Why do we do this to ourselves? I once knit myself a cardigan, each piece, then seamed the damn thing together, and was finally forced to admit that I’d actually knit a Snuggie. Or perhaps a bathrobe for two. It was ENORMOUS and I kept on chugging, even though as I finished each piece I said to myself, Hmm, seems large. Always glad to know I’m not alone!

  20. OK, so my first thought reading “I kept going and hoped the problem would go away” reminded me of the first time I twisted knitting in the round as a brand new knitter. It was a fingering weight hat and I just couldn’t understand why I kept having to twist the yarn. Several inches later I figured it out.

    Then I read that you RIPPED IT OUT. (!!!) I so seldom finish anything that I could not have done that, no matter how much I wanted to use that yarn for this particular project.

    Anyway, I hope your second go at the project is successful. And congratulations on the upcoming addition to your clan.

    • Kerri,
      I have to suppose that sooner or later one decides that the finished object needs to be what one wants it to be.
      I recently frogged the start of a baby blanket that required 357 cast on stitches times 4. After several days of knitting, I decided that the yarn and resulting fabric looked tacky. The yarn came in a kit, so I had to assume it was meant to be. NOPE. And to top it off, I knit these blankets for the Preemie Project, so ‘could’ have finished it and none would have been the wiser.

  21. I have knitted many of these Norwegian fir jackets and just love it—two for some genuine Norwegian twins. I can see exactly how the same mix-up might happen to me. Congratulation on grandchild #2–each one is a new opportunity for unlimited love. Our latest (supposed) May/June baby has a mid-April birthday. Isn’t nature wonderful? She caught up with herself around 3 months.

  22. What? No!! Finish that sweater and hide it, and there’s 2nd birthday present for as-yet-unborn grandbaby in the bank!
    And THEN make a newborn one!

  23. Welcome to Maine – unfortunately, I have to work so can’t attend, but you’ve come to our beautiful state at the best time of the year!

  24. “…feeling annoyed, because even though I was still following instructions it was getting bigger, not smaller.” Classic! As always. You always capture it perfectly.

    Congrats to you, Elliot and the whole family!

  25. I’d like to say that I didn’t laugh out loud, harder with each passing paragraph until I was practically weeping with laughter, at your tale of knitting woe.

    But I’d be lying.

    I’m sorry about the reknitting, but honestly, I needed a laugh today. Thanks for sharing.

    PS — almost 3 is the perfect age at which to become the oldest sibling. I speak from experience.

    PPS — best wishes to everyone!

  26. We’ve got a very long awaited rainbow numerous times over no 3 arriving in the very very near future (Mother Nature as you say, can be a very very harsh editor) and I’ve knit this exact same teeny tiny cardi to snuggle them in – lots of love and congratulations to all your gang, such exciting news!

  27. I am crying with mirth, and the same time sharing in your frustration at the sadism and vagaries of knitting patterns. You are not alone. : )

  28. Congratulations Grammy.
    Something that I say all the time – I do some of my fastest knitting when I am making my biggest mistakes. And I practice the same knitting logic – if I just keep knitting it will be alright. I mean it’s probably going to be okay once it’s blocked. Right?

  29. Congratulations to you and the whole family! There is no defense mechanism stronger than Knitting Denial. It makes us blind to anything that might require us to having to frog.

  30. Congratulations! My daughter-in-law is currently very overdue with no 2. No 1 will be 3 in November and and is beginning to understand the concept. Although the cutest thing was when he had a baby in his tummy too and was telling the baby to “open mouth” so it would get his ice cream as he ate it!
    I’ve been told they really don’t need any more small baby things, just a couple of blankets and then 3-6 month cardigans but only in 4ply. Every pattern I’ve fallen in love with is do, so I’m waiting to find out the flavour before I cast something on.

  31. What wonderful news! Congratulations to your family. Good to hear that I’m not the only one who gets delusional about a knitting project

  32. Speaking as a 3 year difference older sibling, I bet he’s gonna do great! He’s such a sweet kid and has such a wonderful family around him. Congratulations! And hey, at least you noticed before blocking?

  33. Out of all the advice and knitting quotes I’ve seen through my years of knitting, this is the one I bring up the most.

    “experienced knitters don’t make fewer mistakes. We make bigger ones faster.”

    Love it still.

  34. Lovely baby news. Thanks for sharing.
    And thanks for sharing the ‘I got gauge, it has to work out’ logic. Nice to know I’m not alone, though I am getting better at ripping back once the penny drops and I realize it isn’t going to work. (Shan’t be admitting how long I carry on knitting before I acknowledge the penny.)

  35. I love that cardigan- I made one not long ago for a friends new grandson who is now a week or two old. Congratulations all round and the new cardi will go quickly now that it’s really a teeny one.

  36. “forgotten the actual size of babies” – because you haven’t seen that many newborns, right?

    I’m surprised you didn’t finish up that cardigan and stick it in the long-range planning box.

  37. Knitting is
    One of moments when there is
    Play time with sticks and string
    Mistakes are new patterns
    Time is shared forward
    Solitary actions, hands full of history

  38. I’m so sad that this is Amy’s last MWL retreat. I only made it to one, about 3 years ago but it was such a wonderful amazing time. Please tell her thank for the experience!

  39. Congratulations! I confess I am envious. Three of my kids are holding out on me. I’ve threatened to find and discard all their birth control devices/pills/whatever but have not gotten that far. My one granddaughter is 23 & just got married. . . maybe I’ll have a “great” someday.
    I probably would have made exactly the same mistake knitting, with about equal determination, knitting on and on and on. Glad to know I’m not the only one. . .

    • Just a quick note, as someone who probably isn’t able to have children, for basically all of the reasons: I would find it quite painful to hear that my parents thought I was “holding out on them” or was somehow disappointing/failing them by not having children. I would much prefer that the people in my life love and accept me just the way I am, and find ways to spread their love of children in ways that are supportive of everyone.

  40. I read this in the gym, laughing so hard I snorted. Thank you for welcoming us into your stories to laugh along with you. I really felt this one – my most recent swatch lied to me and while I knew it was a lying liar who lied I just kept right on going… Until the tapemeasure shamed me into the frog pond. At least the yarn is a delight to use, so I don’t really mind a few extra (thousand) stitches in the greater scheme of things…
    Congrats on Grandbaby number two!

  41. YAY for another grand baby on the horizon!!

    Laughed out loud at experienced knitters don’t make fewer mistakes, they make then bigger ones faster. Yup so true!!

  42. And we have a wee one due the same time, so I am off to find that pattern – it looks perfect – the first from that generation in our family – great niece/nephew for me!!! And you know, he is all mine!

  43. Oh, I’m glad you figured out what was wrong. Those kinds of errors are so easy to make. I prefer a printed out pattern for that reason. Congratulations on the new baby. That’s very exciting. The future looks bright for you and your family…

  44. You could’ve just made baby and brother matching sweaters..
    So exciting!! Baby Blanket Bingo begins!!
    Will the yarn arrive on time?
    Will the blanket end up bigger than a king size bed?
    What state/country will the needed last skein of yarn come from?
    Which will arrive first: baby or blanket?
    Please post the yarn info including lot# so we can all stash dive and hold your backup in reserve.

  45. Don’t you have a long-term investment bin or a 2-year-old in your life who needs a sweater? It breaks my heart that you ripped it all back instead of finishing it and putting it into the long-term-planning box. Maybe Elliot could have a sweater that matches his new sibling, he’s 2-3 years….

  46. I did the exact same thing with this pattern, on a paper copy of the instructions. I hung onto the bigger version and it worked its way to the perfect baby, who is currently getting a second season of wear out of it (garter stitch is just perfect for keeping up with a growing tot)!

  47. AACK! You unwound it straight onto a ball winder… my heart almost stopped reading this! I would’ve just convinced myself the child would grow into it at some point and then plan a new baby sweater. (I hate ripping. Denial is so much easier.) CONGRATS to everyone! Again, thank you for sharing your family’s joys (and tears) with us.

  48. First of all, congratulations!! Your beautiful family continues to grow and change. I am glad these latest “changes” are joyful!!
    Second of all, congratulations!! Your dedication to “keep knitting and those niggling suspicions of ‘something’s not right’ will work themselves out”…… It’s a relief to know we all still have the power to keep going in the face of knowing better (how many times recently have I done this? Too numerous to count)…
    And finally, congratulations! I don’t know how I missed it, that knitting retreat in Maine is “literally” just down the street from where my mum lived for many years. Halcyon Yarn is my LYS whenever I would go home and visit her, and it remains one of my all-time favorite shops (even with all the choices I have in the PNW). Had I known this retreat was happening (and for the last time!)….I might have tried to move heaven and earth to be there (and since I’m currently unemployed, that would not be a wise choice)…. so please, please, please say hello to that beautiful Maine coast for me.
    I hope you find little pockets of time to take in that beauty, and let it refill your cup (Lord knows you’re due!)

  49. Congratulations! We will be grandmothers again at the same time. Our little boy or girl is due March 25th. I am so happy I get to follow what you will be knitting for the baby. Happy, grateful days.

  50. I wish I had known you’d be in Maine, I would love to have the chance to see you in person and see you knit! I didn’t know about this Make Wear Love Retreat. Everytime I’ve looked at your events it says nothing. Is it just me or are what you are going to be at isn’t being posted there. If not there How do I find out where you’ll be???? I am perplexed. And Sad.
    PS congrats on the new family member. We just had five baby chicks and that the closest thing to grandkids I’ve got! LOL Thanks for all you share with us. TADS

  51. OMG I am laughing so much! Thank you for sharing that story. And congrats! Elliot is so cute. I can hardly believe he is three already. Love the last photo with the ball winder for the big frogging.

  52. Thanks for the giggle!! (sorry about it being at your expense. But just think how fast this next one will knit up!). I loved knitting this a year or more ago. Thanks to your mistake, I now know there are bigger sizes now! (I don’t recall the bigger sizes when I knit mine previously). Congrats on the pending arrival!

  53. Congratulations. New Baby, awesome. Big Brother @ 3yrs, perfect. Baby Knitting, practice run done.
    This pattern is lovely and I have knitted it….baby size…lol
    I love that you share your mistakes.
    I love knitting but am as slow as a turtle….and I think that my new found joy of putting beads into knitting will make me faster….ha ha ha…not!!!
    thanks for being my inspiration to keep going with new things.

  54. Too bad you didn’t keep the bigger one and just knit another one, so you could have matching sibling sets. That would have been super cute. Though, I’m sure there are limitations on vintage stash amounts…

    Also, thank you for sharing your mistakes… they make the rest of us feel like our mistakes are out of the normal range.

  55. Awwwwww. When I saw the two pictures, I LOLed. Then I actually said, “I’m so sorry” out loud. I am sorry, even as I laugh, because yeah. But now you have the joy of knitting it AGAIN!!!11!!
    Congratulations on GB 2.0

  56. I just love that face…I have a 4 year old grandson…they are marvelous! You are also marvelous. Missed hearing from you, but happy you are able to rest and recover from your whirlwind life!

  57. My first grand-baby is due in March 2020 also. I’ve been so enchanted with the stories of your first time grandma experience, I just can’t wait!

  58. On a side note, will you be doing the karmic balancing stuff anytime soon? It’s been a wee while since I sent my gift details (as a donator) through, so I’m unsure if/when you will be doing that.

  59. I’m beginning to feel like one of those rats in a scientific study where they find that intermittent and unreliable rewards, like having a fresh post, cause the rat to manically press the lever harder. If stuff/life is intervening, then please let your loyal fans know not to expect a new post at least once a week. Oh, and I too am wondering if I should continue to save the karmic balancing gift I offered several months ago. If you don’t need it, I’ll give it to someone else.

  60. Congratulations to your family on the coming wee one! Thank you for your wonderful wit and wisdom. I love following your blog and am in awe of your knitting prowess!

  61. As others have said prior..I too love when you post about your knitting debacles. It gives me hope for myself. Knitting for only 45 years and my mistakes indeed are not fewer, but definitely bigger and faster!

  62. Hooray and congratulations! Thanks for sharing the delightful family news. I hope all’s well for Meg during her pregnancy, and look forward to hearing more about impending-grandchild:0)

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