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.