Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Starting Again (and Again) (and Sometimes Again)

Spring...have you read enough blog posts about spring yet? Well, the crocuses coming out to play in my yard have put me in the mood to celebrate it. The long winter is over even as it tries to make me cower under its last dying gasp. Well, I will not cower. We've had too many sunny days lately for that.

What I will do is consider the lesson I can learn from the new life coming from the seeming dead ground. The bulbs that gave up after last year's blooming are back to try again and are making a grand show of it. If the flowers of the field can do it, perhaps I can too.

Specifically, I resurrected a project that I had abandoned (several times) but not completely rejected. There was a hoodie pattern from knitty, the Mariah, that I really liked and which presented itself just as the wool for it appeared as a gift.

First the wool. My co-worker, knowing I had some skill with things knitted, asked me to look at a sweater her puppy had chewed. I told her to bring it in; I could say nothing for sure until I had seen it. She brought in a beautiful Gap cabled sweater in a coal black wool that had a gaping 6 inch diameter hole in the back. No, I'm afraid, I could do nothing for that!

As she balled it up to bitterly throw it into the trash, I asked if I could have it. Perhaps I could use the wool. I didn't want to seem too happy to benefit from her misfortune, but she had no objections and I took it home. My grandmother used to unravel sweaters from thrift stores when they were the colour she was looking for, and I figured I could too. And I did. I even kept a lot of the short fragments that resulted from the now discontinuous back. And I got a lot of wool.

Now for the pattern. I knit up the back and front pieces with no trouble. I knew I had less wool than the pattern called for so I really simplified the cables on the sleeves, changing the complicated design from the pattern to two simple four-stitch cables running side by side up the center of the sleeve [right]. All of these pieces are joined at the yoke and then knit as one.

I ran out of wool when the yoke was pretty much done and still had the whole hood to go. About that time, a few ladies and I took a yarn road trip to the very nice shop, Sheep's Clothing. I brought along a sample of the black wool just in case I could match it.

I couldn't. The very helpful employee, however, did identify it as 3 strands of a type of wool that they had. And they had a rainbow of colours, but not coal black. So I considered my options and bought a colour that I liked and figured I'd just add some wide stripes or have a contrasting hood. Or something.

So I split the ball into thirds, started knitting, and ran out of wool again. Of course it was ridiculous to expect the one little ball to get me very far, especially when divided into thirds, but I didn't think that far ahead. I called the shop to get some more and between their custom ordering system, new computers or something, and I suspect, some general "do it later"ness, it took more than a year to get more wool! Wow. This time I had ordered three balls and had them wind them together for me. That was a lot easier.

I finished the hood. It looked terrible. Really: awful. There was a very strange bump on the back of the hood at the base of the neck. I'm not sure what alien it was for (and I know a number thanks to Star Trek/Wars) but it didn't work for me. So I frogged it back (rip it, rip it) to the neckline and started again, revising the way I interpreted one part of the instructions which was not too clear.

Guess what? Looked terrible again. No better. The whole sweater went into a duffel bag and has emerged only once to have pictures taken when I added it to Ravelry.

Best I can figure I started the sweater in the fall of 2004. I bought the contrasting wool in the spring of '05. I bought the more contrasting wool in June 2007. I've moved, and the sweater has moved with me.

And now, this spring, I have started again. It's been on my mind since I added it to Ravelry. While linking it to the other projects made from the same pattern, I couldn't help but notice that a lot of other people had trouble with the hood directions. Most had given up on the hood and changed it to a simple fold over collar. And then one woman's assessment that the neckline was just way too large made everything click for me. I didn't have to try follow the [apparently flawed] pattern. It wasn't working for me, so try something else.

And I am. First of all I added a lot more decreases to the yoke while lengthening it, so the neckline now fits much better. There was a pause in the work while I considered how to construct a hood, but with some searching in Ravelry posts, I think I have something worked out. I'm about half way up the length of the hood and going strong. I hope that the third time really is the charm because I am getting tired of knitting this same hood!

Serendipitously, soon after restarting this project I read a blog post about the correct way to insert a zipper...that was the next looming (possible) snag in this project. How nice to have nipped the problem in the bud.

Here's to fresh starts in spring! (And wish me some luck, please.)

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