I should have known better

Let's face it. This just isn't my summer for knitting. That's OK. I've had some really important things going on that take priority over recreational stitching, like SongFest last month, and my doctoral project that I'd like to finish this fall, but unfortunately, some frustrating circumstances - most of which are out of my control - are making that a bigger challenge than a dissertation project already is to begin with. (Grumble...whine...sigh)

You'd think knitting would be a great way for me to de-stress, but these days if I'm not practicing (or trying in vain to obtain obscure unpublished song scores, ahem) or cleaning or cooking or washing diapers I just feel guilty. In fact, I feel a little twinge of guilt now for blogging, though I did get some work done this morning already.

Another thing is that I'm rather overwhelmed by all the knitting possibilities out there, and no one thing has grabbed my attention and not let go. I could make a pair of cabled socks, I could try fair isle mittens, I could make any number of things for the baby I'm expecting in December, I could finish the beautiful green sweater with cables I started for Daniel a year ago so he can wear it this fall, I could make myself a sweater to wear next spring when the baby weight comes off, I could try an Elizabeth Zimmerman design for the first time...all of these things are appealing, but I can't decide where to start.

I had made up my mind about one project, though. As of Memorial Day (May 28), Stuart and I have a beautiful new nephew named Charlie. My first nephew! Daniel's first cousin! (...at least, his first first cousin; he's got several second cousins...) If I will knit a baby gift for a woman I barely know, how could I, in good conscience, neglect knitting for my own nephew?

So I started a sweater for Charlie, an easy-peasy Debbie Bliss raglan (there's a picture here on her website) using Plymouth's new Jeanee, a cotton/acrylic blend. The ball band suggests a gauge of 18 st=4" on size 8 needles, and just by looking at and feeling the yarn, I wasn't sure that was right. The yarn seems a little finer than that. But I was hasty to get started and cast on anyway. Immediately, it felt too loose, even though I was getting the right number of stitches per inch. I could just tell that the yarn wanted to be knit on size 7 needles, not size 8. In addition, that simple raglan sweater, while it looks adorable in the book, isn't a great design. The sleeves are too wide and the rolled edges ride up. I added ribbing to the bottom, but kept the shaping the same, even though I thought it looked like a sweater for a baby with wings rather than arms. Still, I gritted my teeth and finished the back and two sleeves, thinking maybe if I just kept going I'd get over all those hang-ups.

I should have known better. About two months ago, I put the sweater down and didn't pick it up again. One evening's worth of knitting and sewing up would have finished it, but the loose gauge and baggy sleeves kept bugging me and sapping my already lukewarm enthusiasm, so in the WIP basket it stayed. Meanwhile, Charlie was born, a few weeks passed, he and his parents moved to Virginia (see, there's no particular hurry in knitting a sweater in the middle of the summer for a kid who lives in Virginia), and with a twinge of guilt, I bought a couple of cute outfits at a department store so they wouldn't think I'd forgotten him.

I haven't given up, though. I've swatched with size 7 needles, and I'm getting 21 stitches over 4 inches, (which works much better). I frogged what I had knitted so far...

...and I've decided what to do instead. I like the way these two blues go together, so I'm going to make a striped pullover with an envelope neck opening and dropped sleeves. I don't like seams on baby sweaters (too bulky for such little garments), so I'll work it in the round up to the armholes, divide for the top, then pick up the sleeves in the armholes and work down. I don't have a pattern for this specifically, but I've got plenty of baby sweater patterns with schematics I can follow, so it ought to be pretty easy.

Now, if I would get off the computer and actually start the thing, maybe I'll have something to show you soon.


Glenna C said…
I have been wrestling with the knitting muse for a few weeks now and it's been stressful just on its own! But I know that my life in general has some stress and that's a likely culprit, although really, the heat on its own is enough to deter the knitting. Good for you for grappling with the sweater, rips and all!
Steph said…
Everything I've tried to make for the onslaught of summer babies my friends are having has ended in gauge disaster and total frustration. Arrrggghhh.

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