Knitting is a gamble. An educated gamble a lot of the time, but a gamble none the less. You choose a pattern, and hope that it’s written in a way that your brain can translate and doesn’t having you wanting to heave the entire yarn basket at the wall. You choose a yarn, which in my case is never ever the same as the yarn the sample was knitted in, and hope that the weight and the drape behave how you imagine. You knit a gauge swatch (or not) and hope that your tension over the swatch turns out to be roughly similar to a whole jumper’s worth of stitches, and after all of that, when you’ve checked everything that there is to check, measured everything there is to measure, and spent hours and hours of your time flicking through stitch after stitch, you hope that when you wash it it won’t grow big enough to fit a heffalump.
I haven’t even got to that last stage yet; my gamble was with the yarn, and as we all know, eventually the house always wins.
It started a year ago, in one of my most favourite yarn shops in the entire world (Lil Weasel) which unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) happens to be in Paris, and I was having a yarn attack of a most serious kind. Not only had I picked out yarn to make sweaters for Pip and Elma, there in my hand was a skein of soft wool cotton, in my absolute favourite burnt orange, and on the counter next to me, were another seven. I have no defence, I can only offer as plea in mitigation that I became temporarily incapacitated by the smell of wool and the amazing array of buttons and forgot that sheep are not an endangered species. Mea culpa.
I’d not knit myself a sweater since (quick check of Ravelry) 2012, when I knit myself a maternity jumper while I was expecting Elma, and there was still yarn in the stash for at least two cardigans, and yet, the orange, it called to me. I could see it then, some big snuggly jumper, the sort you pull on over pyjamas on a chilly winter morning, or curl up into on those weekend afternoons when the rain comes lashing down and your house becomes an island, isolated in the storm, while you watch the drops slither away down the glass. I didn’t have a pattern in mind, or even a rough idea of the yardage for a me sized jumper, so I went with “all of this colour that they have on the shelf” and the die was cast.
And I don’t know what led me to throw the skeins into the “take to tent” bag when we were packing up our old house, but suddenly it was their time, and I knit and swatched, and chose a pattern, and felt indecisive about the pattern, and eventually cast on. It was not the most auspicious start. Despite knitting a swatch and washing it and blocking it, and doing some very careful maths, and casting on exactly that number, I started to knit something that whatever it was was not a jumper for a me-sized person. I could claim that it was largely due to knitting mostly in very low light that I was at the underarms before I acknowledged that we had a serious problem, but I think it was probably just denial. In my quest to make something with a bit of positive ease, I might just have gone overboard. Sort of, will fit John in it as well levels of overboard.
There was nothing for it to rip back. And on the plus side, I told myself, at least now I’m much less likely to run out of yarn. Running out had been a near certainty on the original stitches, but now, surely the knitting fates would reward the hours of ripping back with a woollen widow’s curse?
Oh how they laughed.
As I write this I’m a decrease row, two rounds, four short rows, another decrease row and the collar away from finishing. In yarn terms that’s nearly nothing. Also in yarn terms, what it is not, is seven inches of yarn, which is exactly all I have left of the original skeins.
Welcome to ‘not quite finished Friday’
Except that while the house may have won this round, at least this time I’m learning (see debacle with Pip’s Christmas jumper), because earlier this week I had a very nice post day:
And now I’ll have a matching hat; just as long as it takes a little less than a skein, because if this runs out, it’s stripes.