Day 50: Broken Needles, Broken Dreams

Ok, so maybe that title’s a little melodramatic. But you try breaking one of your interchangeable needles right before the end of a project with no possible replacement, and see if you don’t feel like being dramatic.

So long story short, yes, I broke the needle for my sweater.

But let me tell you the long version.

Yesterday, Michael and I hosted a party. A football watching party, for the biggest rivalry game of the year in the state, Michigan State University versus University of Michigan. It would be somewhat more dramatic and entertaining to say that my needles got broken during a particularly heated bit of cheering as our team scored, or during a bit of banter with the guests that were supporting the opposite team as me.

But alas, it’s not nearly so interesting.

I brought my knitting out when things seemed to settle down, after everyone got here and got snacks and drinks and such. I thought I’d be able to sit and watch the game and knit, like I usually do when Michael and I have the game on.

I was wrong.

I ended up maybe knitting half a row at a time, before I would have to stop and get up to do something or get something. Such is the way for a hostess. I only managed to get two rows done total, and then I set my knitting down one more fateful time, on the floor near my chair. And then as I stood up, I stepped on the needle.

I heard the snap when it happened, and I had a moment of horror, but I was quickly distracted, and didn’t have time to check on it right away. But when I finished up whatever I’d gotten up to do, I picked up my knitting, and sure enough, the needle had snapped cleanly, right where the needle meets the metal for the interchangeable join.

If I’d been smart, I would have pulled out a smaller project. But I wanted so desperately to do work on this sweater, I was so close, I thought that if I worked on it during the party, I could get it done by the end of the weekend!

Instead, not only did I make almost no progress on Saturday, but now I can’t do any knitting at all on Sunday, and probably not on Monday either.

My replacement needle, which I ordered on Amazon, should hopefully be here on Monday, but it certainly won’t be here before I leave for work. And it may even take longer, depending on whether or not the shipping company experiences any delays.

One of the worst parts of this, is that I had to suffer mostly in silence for the rest of the party. No one at the party was a knitter, so even when I mentioned that I’d broken a needle on a nearly-finished project, nobody properly understood the gravity of the situation.

I did post a picture of the carnage on Instagram, where I was met with plenty of sympathy from like-minded knitters, so at least that helped.

Lesson learned, though. I think it’s in the same vein as the tortoise and the hare; I was in a rush to get something done, and now it’s going to take me even longer than anticipated.

Don’t you hate it when such childhood lessons are proven correct in adulthood?

Day 49: Nearly Done

Progress has been made! I can’t tell you how much of a relief it is to be working on this border. It really feels like I’m nearly done with this sweater.

The border being in stockinette stitch also makes the end of this sweater pretty easy, since the only parts that weren’t in the main body stitch (the pockets, seams, and collar) are all now done exactly the same.

Remember how I said the pockets were nice because they gave a bit of variety in each row? Well variety is overrated. This is so easy as it is now, I love it!

Then again, I’m a “TV knitting” kind of knitter. I like knitting that I don’t have to think about at all. Not that it wasn’t already like that for most of the body, but making it even easier hasn’t hurt.

I did have a small incident while knitting this at work. I was pulling the stitches around to the opposite needle after finishing a row, and I accidentally yanked too hard on my stitches, pulling off about 20 of them!

It was easy enough to fix, thankfully, and no stitches were lost. But I’ll tell you what, I nearly had a heart attack when it happened.

In other news, I can finally say, I’ve completely finished the blanket I was knitting!

I finished the knitting of it a couple weeks ago, while I was on vacation in Maine, but it’s taken me this long to put a border on it and get it blocked.

The border was not something that was called for in the pattern, but I’m extremely pleased with it. My mom’s favorite color is red, first of all, so I think it’ll suit her very well. But it’s also just a nice touch. It really smooths out the edge, not to mention that it covers up a couple of the mistakes I made around the outside.

I made a couple other changes as well, besides the border. I cast on an extra 26 stitches to put in another snowflake section, and I knit the pattern 12 times rather than the 9 the pattern called for.

I have absolutely no idea why the kit I bought for this blanket came with SO MUCH yarn.

I got 13 skeins of Swish in Dove Heather when I ordered the pattern kit on Knit Picks. And even with the increases I make to the pattern, which were significant, I only used 10 of them!

I’m not complaining, of course. I’ve got an extra 3 skeins of Knit Picks Swish, which is a really lovely yarn, even if it does split a little. I’m certain I’ll use it again.

Day 48: What Happens Next?

Pockets are DONE (except for linings of course, but that’s for later), garter stitch border is DONE, all that’s left is the next few centimeters of stockinette stitch border!

Part of me really can’t believe it.

But again, I don’t want to jump the gun on going into what it’s felt like, over all, to knit this sweater. That’s for later.

What I do want to talk about is what’s going to happen to this blog once this sweater is finished. The entire point of this blog is, after all, to document my first ever attempt at knitting a sweater.

Well, fear not my loyal readers, the end of this sweater will not be the end of this blog!

That being said, we’re going to be taking November very easy. I mentioned previously that I intend to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, and in order to do so I need to have plenty of writing time available.

In the month of November, I’ll only be posting once a week. After November will still be at least once a week, but we shall see.

We’re also going to be going through a bit of a re-branding/update on the site in November. I’m hoping to get the site looking more polished, as well as setting up a new tagline. “One woman’s journey to knit her first sweater as the weather turns” won’t really apply once this big orange beauty is finished.

We are keeping the name, since “Sweater Weather” suits not only my favorite craft, but also my personality. The coziness of that name, I think, will continue to encapsulate what I’ll be posting about.

But what about content, you ask? What am I going to write about, if not knitting this sweater?

All kinds of other knitting things, of course! WIPs, yarn purchases, favorite patterns, new techniques and projects I’ve never done before, cast-ons, FOs, knitting guides, novels that mention knitting (even if it’s just that one reference)!

It’s all fair game.

So, I hope you’ll all stay with me in these last few days as I finish this project, and that you’ll stay with me as I evolve this site as well.

Day 47: Race to the Finish Line

I’ve never run a long distance race before, but I imagine that I could draw a lot of similarities between what that feels like and what knitting this sweater feels like.

And where I’m at now, I imagine that it’s like not quite being able to see the finish line, but nearly. I can hear all the people waiting at the finish line cheering, but I’ve just got one more curve to go around, and then I’ll be able to see it as well!

Of course, I’m picturing the “finish line” of this sweater as being the bottom, which isn’t necessarily true. Once I finish my last body stitches, I still have to knit the lining for the pockets, sew together the pockets, weave in all the ends, and fix some of the holes and other small mistakes that I made. And of course, I have to block it as well, which is always such a drag. You think you’re done with a project, but there’s always this one more step.

Anyway, here are some pictures of my progress.

I’m beginning to run out of room on the desk that I use for the photos! I wanted this to be a long cardigan, so I should have expected that, but for some reason it just totally slipped my mind.

I’m not really measuring from the underarm down anymore, it’s all about the pockets now. Once those reach the correct length (I think I’ll be able to achieve that by the next blog post, hopefully!), then I’ll be in the home stretch. The finish line will be in sight!

Like the sleeves, the bottom of this cardigan ends in a stockinette stitch (rather than reverse stockinette stitch) border, with a couple of rows of garter stitch between the two different patterns. I’ve got to knit a few centimeters of that, then I’ll be choosing my bind off.

I’m very tempted to wax on about what it’s going to feel like once I finish this sweater, and what the experience has felt like overall, but I’m going to hold off on that until I get to one of my last posts.

To borrow another racing analogy, I don’t want to jump the gun.

Day 46: Only Two Rows

I’ve kind of given away the bulk of today’s post in the title. Yup, I only managed to knit two rows yesterday, which is pretty much unnoticeable on this sweater, especially with the way all the stockinette stitch curls up.

Can we talk about that for a minute, stockinette stitch? Does anyone else find it highly frustrating?

When I was first knitting the yoke, for example, it curled up so much that every time I looked at it, no matter how much progress I’d made, it looked like I’d hardly done anything. And as they are now, my sleeves definitely don’t feel like they’re going to be long enough, but only because they keep curling half-way up my arm!

The pictures of the cardigan show perfectly uncurled sleeves, as well as an uncurled collar. Presumedly it’ll come out in blocking, but I’m not sure how aggressive it’s going to have to be. Believe it or not, I haven’t knit anything in stockinette stitch in quite some time. Or at the very least, the stockinette projects I have knit had thick, heavy borders that kept it from curling up.

Have I mentioned yet to you guys that I’ve properly tried this thing on recently? I don’t think I have.

So over the weekend, even though I didn’t get much done, I tried on my cardigan. The other times I’d tried it on, I really couldn’t get a good feel for how it was actually going to fit because I hadn’t finished the collar yet. Well, since I (badly) seamed on the collar, I finally tried it on.

And I love it!

First of all, the underarms are NOT the issue that I was worried they might be. I cannot tell you how much of a relief that is. The collar, once it uncurls, comes up on just the right place on my neck, too.

And I haven’t even blocked it yet, which, in theory, could make the fit even better!

The only thing that didn’t seem quite to my personal preference were the sleeves. Of course, the rolling doesn’t help, but even once they’re unrolled their just a tiny bit too short. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to stretch them a bit when I block it, but if that doesn’t work, I’ll just take out the bind off and add a couple more rows. That’s the beauty of a handknit garment!

Day 45: I Have Pockets!

Well actually, I don’t technically have pockets yet. I have holes, which will later become pockets. But it’s close enough for me!

Once I got the casting on part right, it was really quite easy to knit.

Well actually, it should have been easy, but I, naturally, messed it up.

When I started knitting the stitches I’d cast on, I noticed that the end stitches were rather loose, or had a bar that hung down and didn’t look too pretty. So I, in my infinite wisdom, figured I’d just knit one stitch deeper into the body on one side of the pocket, and one stitch less on the other, and this would make it look a bit more even.

Don’t ask me why I thought that’d work.

Anyway, so when I’d finished with this convoluted plan, I realized that not only did it look a bit strange, but I didn’t do it evenly on each side. One side had 7 stitches next to the collar, the other had 9 stitches next to the collar.

Whatever, I thought, I was done trying to be fancy. When I knit the next row, I pulled out the stitches I’d changed when I came to them, and put it to rights as the pattern indicated.

Or so I thought.

I knit another few rows, and then I noticed that one of my pockets was looking a little strange. I did a quick count, and suddenly I was up to 10 stitches between the collar and the pocket on that side!

I must have “fixed” that one in the wrong direction.

I double checked that my other pocket was fine, and it was, so I set to work on properly fixing the other pocket as well.

First column of stitches, all pulled out. That laddering felt more frightening than it looks…
This is on the opposite side as the picture above. One row fixed, one to go!

Thank goodness I’d only knit four rows. I’ve had to ladder down on stitches far deeper than that before (I think my record is 7, but that was infinitely harder because is was in a pattern, not just stockinette stitch), and it’s such a pain. Not only is it difficult to do, but it’s nerve wracking. It feels like, if I do it wrong, the whole thing will come unraveled!

In the case of these pockets in particular, I was pulling down to cast on stitches, which felt very much like pulling down to nothing more than air. If I pulled down too far, I definitely wasn’t sure that I could recreate the cast on stitch.

Anyway, that’s enough about my mistakes. They were fixed, and that’s what matters.

And that’s how it’s supposed to look.

Let me tell you what my favorite part about these pockets is so far; they give a bit of variety in the monotony of this body work.

Since the front facing side of the pockets is done in regular stockinette stitch, rather than the reverse stockinette of the rest of the body, it really breaks up the tedium of knitting 200+ stitches, which I greatly appreciate.

Day 44: Pockets Are Hard

Once again, as is often the case on weekends, I didn’t get a ton of knitting in. I did not, in fact, even manage to finish two full rows, and that’s because pockets are hard.

I finally managed to get to the point where I put was to knit in the pockets, and I was so excited about it. Finally, a break from the monotony of the body.

It was definitely one of those scenarios, like when I did the yoke, that I read and re-read the instructions, but couldn’t quite interpret what exactly I was supposed to do. So I just went ahead and worked it up, and hoped for the best.

It didn’t work out for me quite as well this time.

I must have worked at it for an hour, but the casting on with the cable cast on was just not making sense.

I should say, the cast on itself was easy enough to figure out, but which needle and with what strand of yarn I very much struggled with.

The designer of this pattern was very good about saying when you were supposed to cast on with a new strand of yarn, and when you were not. And she said nothing about using new yarn at this section, so I just went ahead and tried casting the required amount of stitches onto the left needle.

It wasn’t until I’d cast about half of these on, had to rip them all out because I realized I hadn’t knit enough stitches before starting the pocket, then cast on again, this time with the full amount required, that I realized there was no functional way for this method to work.

The working yarn was on the right needle, all the new stitches were on the left needle, and with as many as I had cast on, there was absolutely no way I was getting the right needle up and over those stitches to start knitting.

So, I went to the discussion posted by the designer when she created the sweater, as I should have done in the first place.

It took me absolutely ages to find any reference to my dilemma, but I did finally figure it out.

As it turns out, when casting on the additional stitches, you’re supposed to turn the work, so that the new stitches are going on the right-hand needle with the working yarn.

Which, in hindsight, seems obvious. But there were no instructions to turn the work before casting on, so I just assumed you weren’t supposed to. As I said, the pattern is usually very good about indicating where new yarn should be used, or where the work should be turned rather than continuing straight.

I guess the designer just assumed that nobody would be foolish enough to think that casting onto the left needle would be even remotely feasible in this situation.

But anyway, I’ve got it figured out now, and by tomorrow’s post, I WILL have the beginnings of pockets!