A trip to Idaho also meant that I got to exchange holiday gifts with my family. My sister and I each knit something for the other, and now that she has received her gift I can write openly about what a pain in the neck it was. But first, her gift to me:
Remember when V was first learning to knit? She was immediately a fearless knitter, and her transition into knitting in the round without a pattern has impressed me to no end. I am proud to be the recipient of such fine handiwork, and have been wearing this hat daily. It’s doing a fine job of keeping the wind out of my ears on my daily dog walks. Did you know hand knit hats were so effective at that? Really, I should knit some more.
Before Christmas, I decided that I wanted to knit V a garment of some sort. Time was running short by the time I was actually ready to get started, so I decided to knit something based on what I already had in my stash. This may have been my first mistake. You see, I do not really keep large quantities of a single color or type of yarn in my stash. So you would think that if I were intending to make a garment, I would have considered that fact and gone yarn shopping. But no. I thought I knew better.
When contemplating what to knit, I thought back to the summer when I knit up a little shrug for myself. I remembered my sister admiring it. I had a skein of Malabrigo in Cuarzo, a lovely variegated purple, one of her favorite colors. That’s it: knit her a shrug like mine!
I loosely of followed the pattern for the Cropped Raglan Sweater (available free here), casting on 90 stitches on size 9 needles. I followed the recipe for the increases, knitting until the sleeves seemed “long enough”. Very precise, I know. Then I put them on waste yarn and started knitting the body of the shrug. This went along fine for a bit, until I noticed that my ball of yarn had diminished significantly.
The sweater was only about 2 inches long from the underarm, and I knew I wanted it to have a little more substance than that. I Estimated the amount of yarn I had left, leaving me with the certain knowledge that I would not have enough to make this a reasonable shrug. Remaining stubborn about buying yarn, I searched the stash for a comparable yarn that I could use to accent the ribbing on the hem and cuffs. After trying different color combinations, I decided to go with some Paton’s Jet in color 203, a close match to the pink hues in the Malabrigo.
I knit on the body until I was very nearly out of yarn. Then I switched to the contrasting color and knit a ribbed band. The colors seem to work well together, but where the real rub comes is the difference in texture between Malabrigo and the Jet. One is like marshmallows, the other granola. Both are good individually, but together they only seem to take away from each other. In any case, it was still a wee shrug.
So I blocked the hell out of it! It only grew about an inch at most in any one direction. And when I tried it on, my denial was no longer able to convince me of success. Sure, I had a finished object, but at what cost?
I like to wear a funky piece of clothing now and then, but I just couldn’t see how this was going to fit into my sister’s wardrobe. I decided to give it to her anyway, letting her decide what to do with it. Perhaps there’s a small child she knows. Or, if she loved the yarn, I could help her take it apart and rewind it into a ball. Anything to have it off my hands.
V received the shrug-ette with grace and said she liked it. Of course, she never tried it on in front of a camera…
These disappointments are bound to happen from time to time. They occur as a way of challenging us to listen to our knitter’s intuition. There were several points where I knew I was not going to be satisfied with the end result, and yet I knit on. I spent time knitting something I wasn’t proud of, time I could have put to better use. How often do we do this in other aspects of our lives, I wonder?