Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Wishful Knitter

I may have mentioned this before but as it is a repeating motif in my knitting life this won't be the last time that you hear it.
I am a wishful knitter.
I am not entirely naive or reckless - I give a great deal of thought to choosing the appropriate size, the most suitable yarn for the project and I always swatch. Then with the enthusiasm that only a new project can bring I go. I am mindful of the way that colour or aran patterns can, with 1 little stitch, give cause for a drop-stitch or even full-rip corrective measures so I am watchful. I also monitor the gauge just in case a butterfly has flapped its wings in Hawaii and has sent a causality ripple to Angus that will affect my tension. But this is a simple, chunky, stockinette stitch hoodie. In pink. Easy.
Did you feel that? A tingle in my temples, the beginning of a feeling that something is not quite right. It starts out as a whisper as soft as a gentle breeze through a pine forest - not so much as a leaf-rustling to really catch your attention. I stand up, get a refreshing beverage, give my shoulders a roll and my hands a relaxing shake. Good as new - on gauge, no split stitches (what else could go wrong on such a basic sweater?), and I keep knitting round the body and set it aside to do the sleeves.
Did you hear that? Faint leaf-rustling. "Don't be silly - of course it looks small! You just finished a sweater for yourself. She's a little girl with a 25" chest. You've calculated for 6" of ease - relax and enjoy the smallness of the project," says the wishful knitter in my head. Let's top up that drink and get on with these sleeves. Woo-hoo!
I did the sleeves on straights for speed and thought ahead and added 2 stitches for the seam. (Good work you! It's going to be perfect!) Whipped right through those puppies. What a pleasure to knit for a little girl. I hold the sleeves up to the sweater body. Satisfaction and the anticipation of a quick finish wash over me, not quite drowning out the sound of the wind blowing rubbish cans down the street. I blink hard a few times to make the twitching at the corner of my eye from the nagging bitching bad feeling go away. "You're used to looking at the whole front/back of a sweater. Knitting in the round you are only seeing the bottom half - of course it looks small. She's not an orangutan - the sleeves are fine, besides, there is the top part of the sleeves to knit with the top of the body. How can you try it on her now? There is no way to know where it will sit on her shoulders. Stop wasting knitting time with this fussing - it's fine!" insists the wishful knitter. She is just as willing to tink, rip, recalculate and reknit as I am, she is just so certain that it is a lovely as she wants it to be.
8" into the raglan/upper body shaping I cannot put off the fitting. Amanda comes down, eyes shining with joy at the sight of a nearly finished pink pullover hoodie. Just like she ordered. Seeing her in front of me with the sweater between us yet not blocking out very much of her has turned the bitching bad feeling into a red-alert klaxon.
Hurricane Pink Hoodie has hit.
The width wasn't too bad but didn't look like 6" of ease. Too short in the body. Too short in the arms. And not I-can-block-that-out short either ... inches short.
"Can you make it bigger?" she asks with a nervous yet hopeful giggle, not wanting to hear that her dream sweater is actually a living nightmare.
"Well yeah - if I start all over again."
The facial tic from my eye morphs into hand spasm that I quickly rein in with a long pull from the Mike's beside me.
"Or I could just finish this one for a smaller girl and then make another one for you."
"But that would take too long and this one is for me." The nervous giggle has lost the hopeful edge and slipped into a quivering lip.
"Yes it is - no worries! One bigger, longer but just as pink pullover hoodie coming right up!" I quickly say with a perky voice and imitation genuine smile to head off the train wreck so I can deal with the aftermath of the hurricane.
"Thanks Mom!" and off she skips, oblivious to the carnage she leaves behind.
Back to the computer, enter a bigger size and compare the numbers to ensure that there are extra inches where I want them. A double shot. Rip - a lot. Utter hair-curling curses in my head and make death threats to the wishful knitter cowering in the furthest corner of my head.
Knitting again, convincing myself that this is good - twice the knitting for the same money. Yeah, that is good. Stockinette practice for the competition this weekend - that's good too. And did I really want to finish and have to start a new project in the middle of the Earth 2 marathon? Not likely - I wanted to pay attention.
It's all good. Despite the backslide on the progress meter.
I have read Gavin de Beckers' The Gift of Fear and while he did not ever mention knitting in the book, the gift of fear that we all have (instinct, intuition, gut-feeling, etc.) does apply to me & my knitting and I will learn to listen. And act before bad things have to happen.
There are no pictures. The graphic nature of the aforementioned events were such that even the most hard core, deadline-toughened, whatever-it-takes-to-make-it-perfect knitter would be hard-pressed to maintain an even tension on any WIP for days after seeing such heart-wrenching carnage. (PTTD - Post Traumatic Tension Disorder) Enough people have suffered.

Update: Since these events occurred (Oct. 10) the lower body and 1 sleeve have since been re-knit. There have been no unheeded warning signs (and not for a lack of listening). I am fine, the tics and spasms have not come back. I show no signs of long term ill-effects from this incident and I swear - I have been scared careful!

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