Sunday, March 12, 2006


So Friday the Aran sweater pattern I'd ordered arrived and I was dismayed to see that it wasn't far from Finnish in terms of readability. It required no fewer than three separate swatches. Okay, no problem--well, it was a problem. The three separate patterns it wanted me to swatch weren't labeled in the pattern except as an after thought, "that completes the trellis pattern." I read through the pattern and found the style verbose and way too complicated what with trying to shove in a dozen numbers in parenthesis after each initial number. The pattern was written for sizes 6 to grown male.

So I sat down at my computer and I read through the pattern and rewrote it in American-style knitting-ese with the only numbers I needed. I printed out the directions, cut them into little pieces, glued them to index cards, and hole punched the cards. 18 cards to a finished Aran.

THEN I tried to make gauge. So of course, having put all this time into it, I couldn't. At all. I hadn't a prayer. I did some more homework after the third swatch and discovered that the pattern had been written for a (now discontinued) worsted weight yarn that is meant to be knitted on size US 8 needles and my cotton wants to be knitted on US 5s.


At this point (last night) it was very, very late and I went to bed. Fruitless, as soon as I got to bed the minions started coughing their heads off. I gave them each a breathing treatment and fell into bed at 1:40 am. At 4:00 am Milo and Ben both started coughing their heads off again. I gave them each a breathing treatment and went back to bed. But it didn't take for Milo. He wasn't any better than before the treatment and nothing seemed to help. Propping him up on pillows didn't help, getting him some juice didn't help, letting him go into the living room and read (sitting entirely upright for awhile) didn't help. I felt like I should take him to the emergency room but Chris was in a coma (he doesn't wake up at night. If the house ever catches fire, your guess is as good as mine whether he makes it out or not.) so there was noone to discuss it with. I felt beyond exhausted myself and couldn't summon whatever it would have taken to get Milo and I dressed and out the door. I kept. just. praying. I wanted so desperately for him to drift happily off to sleep so I could do the same. I really wasn't entirely awake myself.

Finally I went into the bathroom, took the roll of toilet paper from the holder, and used it as a spacer for the inhaler that Milo can't otherwise use. It was crude, it took five puffs for me to be sure any at all was getting in his airway--but ten minutes later we were both asleep. Oh thank you, God. Even so, I was in a foul mood most of the day. I just feel like crud on a stick.

But today was the first day of the temple class and since I'd been invited to participate for the first time in however long I've been a member, I was going to go--plus I needed to pass the food storage folders around. We missed Sacrament meeting because I was slow this morning and Max's pants weren't dry, but we got there in time for Sunday school and primary. I'm glad we went.

When I got home I was working again on the laundry and I picked up this green sweater Max has. My grandmother knit this stockinette sweater vest for him a year ago. It's a nice green color and it fit Max well. Not too fussy--nice enough to appeal to Max. He liked it. But my grandmother was 93 when she knit it (she just had a birthday) and her eyesight was not what it used to be. Max had only worn it a short while (he wore it every Sunday to church for five or six Sundays) when one of the woven-in ends un-wove while I was washing it. Poof--it opened into a quarter sized hole. I couldn't figure out how to fix it. The end was so short that it may be that she got confused and trimmed the end before weaving it in at all--that she had knit it through a stitch or two and then meant to weave in the rest later. I really don't know. I just know I couldn't fix it.

I didn't want to throw the sweater away. It was still practically brand new. Because of her eyesight and other reasons, it's likely the last sweater she knits for him--for any of us. (Don't worry about her though, she infomed Charlotte on her birthday that she's pretty sure she's got another year left in her and will make it to 95. Charlotte offered to alert the media.) I kept the sweater on the washer in case the solution came to me. It's been sitting there for months.

So there I was this afternoon looking again at the sweater, noticing what was perfect about it (the tension) and imperfect (I have no idea how she meant to join the shoulder seams, but it sure is an interesting effect) and just sort of reflecting on how much I treasured this sweater that seemed like a "first sweater" instead of a "final sweater" when it came to me--what to do with the blue cotton yarn she'd bought for me half-a-dozen years ago at that yarn shop in rural Ohio.

I grabbed a pair of US size 4 straights and unravelled the last failed swatch and started over on a simple stockinette swatch. I got a gauge of 6 stitches to the inch. I measured Ben and decided to make it five inches bigger than he is around so that it can be grown into. I multiplied 30" by 6 stitches and cast on 180 stitches to a circular needle. I'm nearly done with the k2, p2 ribbing. I'll begin the stockinette before I go to bed tonight. I'm pretty sure I have enough yarn for three matching blue cotton sweater vests, perfect for wearing to church over plain white Sunday shirts. She can't knit them matching sweaters anymore, but I can. She can't fix that hole in the sweater (and frankly, neither can I) but I can use the yarn she bought me to knit the yarn for her.

I'm not sure how to do the v-neck. I don't usually choose that style neckline, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I can see how she did the armholes, picking up stitches around the arm holes and doing a few rounds of ribbing. I can do that.

Initially I had tossed out the idea of another stockinette sweater. I'd just finished THREE and wanted something more interesting--hence the Aran idea. But when I did the stockinette swatch, I didn't have to count stitches to see that the variations in the yarn show up in that simple stitch far better than they did in that fancy texture I was trying to make gauge with. It's a beautful, beautiful yarn. The simple stitch shows it off best.

Maybe there will even be enough left over to make Baby Oliver one, too.


Writing and Living said...

Isn't it nice when you find solutions like that? I can't wait to see the sweaters.

JoVE said...

V-neck is not hard. Just bind off the centre stitch (or 2 if you have an even number) and then decrease one stitch on either side of that centre every second row until you have the right number of stitches left for the shoulder (measure another sweater). You will be able to measure the row gauge easily long before you get to where you need to start and can use that to work out when to start. I usually do the decreases one stitch in and slanting away from the centre as that provides a nice emphasis of the line of the V. You can then pick up stitches around the neck and do some ribbing (or you could just do a single crochet edge to add some stability).

Aunt Charlotte said...

I like v-necks. You could rip out the last 2 rows at the neck, bind off, and have the yarn to do the repair. I have checked w/ said grandma, she can't find the left over, which means she might have given it to me. I'll check this pm.
BTW, said grandmere is in a royal snit. She wants a new bathroom scale because the old one says she has gained weight.

The Queen said...

Grandma can can have mine. It doesn't work for me either ;) It says I haven't lost any weight in 2.5 months. Shyah!

I think I checked with you when the sweater was first harmed and you thought that all the yarn was used in the making of the sweater. I'm open to doing the repair using some of the yarn around the neck, but you'll have to be here to help me figure out how to do it. Luckily--it's in the back, so it only has to work, not be lovely.

Jove, thank you for your directions--on size four needles it'll be a bit before I get to that stage, but your directions make sense.

Dy said...

Aw, I don't blame you for not wanting to get rid of the sweater. The last project we got from Gram (she's 97, so your gram may keep working!) was sent in January. Three little hats for the boys. They don't do much to keep their little heads warm, as her stitches have gotten bigger as her eyesight has diminished and she has to go on feel, but boy do they LOVE those little hats! I will keep them until the fibers dissipate, and the boys love them because they are from Gram. We all need more of those kinds of treasures in our lives, don't we?