It’s been a difficult year or two for me on a personal and professional level. I’ve often felt disheartened and discouraged. Perhaps even disillusioned. But I keep truckin’, because that’s what my mamma always taught me to do. So in a symbolic gesture of reclaiming my life at the beautiful and no-nonsense age of 30, I am re-dedicating myself to the (he)art of fiber work. I won’t be delving too deeply into either my personal or professional spheres on this here corner of the Internet. I’ll only be coming here for some much needed TLC and soul therapy via woolly (and silky…and cottony) goodness.
What better way to start than to post about the mini-epic journey that transformed the way I think about knitting:
Creamy, Creature-y Cardi
Yarn: Berroco Peruvia in an Ivory/Cream color; approximately 7 skeins
Needles: US 9 for body; US 8 for ribbing
Mods: Oof. A lot. More on that below.
This sweater was all about reclamation. The yarn was purchased at least two years ago, when I was swept off my feet by the Snowdrift Cardigan. Unfortunately, I drastically overestimated the weight of this yarn (it’s really just a slightly heavier-than-normal worsted) and my lovely snowdrift dreams started to, well, drift. Eventually, in the great life upheaval of 2010, I ended up frogging the back and sleeves of that sweater and balled it all back up for future project inspiration.
Then came my friend C’s 30th birthday, coming up right exactly next Tuesday, August 10. I needed to get her something really heartfelt and fabulous, but I didn’t have the funds to do so. In June, I picked through my pattern books and yarn stash hoping to find the right materials but always seemed to come up short in either design or yardage. I thought I could go with a Clapotis, knitting it up with two skeins of newly purchased on-sale Cherry Hill Potluck yarn. Unfortunately, the more I knit on it, the more I realized I needed to make C something else.
And then it finally happened. Knitting alchemy. I was flipping through Ravelry, came upon this pattern, flipped through my knitting books and turned the page to Pimlico, and had an idea. I decided to go ahead with it, but with a few alterations. I prayed it would all turn out okay.
So here’s what I did: I first thought the shrug would be better with longer sleeves. I also thought the oak leaf panel would be super much better if it were set off by ribbony mirror-image cables. OK. Awesome. I did that. I knit the whole damn thing, about 30 or so inches of it. And then, after binding off the entire rectangle, I swept it around me to pin the sleeve seams and realized that I was drowning in my knitting.
Hmm, what to do? I couldn’t very well rip the whole thing and start over from the beginning. I had a deadline. It was, as they say in cliches, looming. The only way to deal with this mess was to get rid of width…and the only way to do it at that point was to steek.
I should have taken photos of the crocheted steek lines. Heck, I should have had a drink. What I did have on my side (aside from grim determination and a terrified giddiness) was deep and abiding faith in the stickiness of pure, 100% wool.
It worked. It was wonderful. I have some bulky seams, but they lie flat and the shrug no longer tries to devour me whole. This is important because C is slightly smaller in the torso than I am and if the shrug was devouring me whole, it would have been chomping her to pieces.
Next, I picked up a lot of stitches. I lost count. I used a much smaller needle. Maybe a 7. There were a lot of stitches. I used 2×2 ribbing and then bound off in ribbing. I tried it on. The collar was so small that the shrug had a strange warped hugging effect.
I ripped. And then I picked up a lot more stitches with a bigger needle. The 8. I did more 2×2 ribbing and then I increased the knit stitches on the right side of the body to three. So then it was a lot of 2×3 ribbing. It should have been longer, but I had lopped off a lot of yarn on either side of the body (which is now in somewhat unusable short lengths of wool) and I wasn’t so sure that I would have the amount left to go for the depth I had originally planned.
But whatevs, right? It turned out just peachy (or creamy) if I say so myself. The whole thing is steamed, blocked, seamed, finished. It just needs wrapping and gifting and perhaps more modeling by the actual owner of this garment.
In summary, I learned a lot of things while knitting this cream-colored beast.
- As long as there is air-conditioning, wool is wonderful even in summer.
- I can’t believe I love Buffy and The X-files and never tuned in to the hokey fun that is Supernatural. I got through at least a season and a half while making this cardi.
- Really good friends are worth good knitting.
- Maneuvering one’s way through difficult things can be very, very rewarding.
- I really, really love knitting leaves.