Grits and Purls

Spinning yarns about the grit of life

One row of tiny eyelets and one row of relaxed eyelets

Never have I worked so hard to be loose. With great determination, clenched jaw and tight fists, I sat rigid in my chair, determined to keep my yarn overs nice and loose so that the eyelet rows at the top of the sweater would actually be visible to the naked eye.

I had worked for nearly two months on this sweater, knitting front panels, back panel and sleeves, finally putting them all together and knitting the eyelet yoke. I followed the directions for the eyelets to the letter, and the result was perfectly knitted eyelets—in miniature. They looked exactly like the pattern, except that I needed a microscope to see the holes. So I took the sweater to work to ask one of my knitting mentors what was going on with my knitting.

“I think your yarn overs are too tight. Show me how you are doing it.” So I did. “Does the pattern say to knit into the back of the stitch?”

“No, am I?” I looked at my needle. “But that’s what I’m doing. I don’t know why.”

She looked at the stockinette stitched parts of the sweater. “Yes, but it gives it a nice texture to have all the knitted rows slightly twisted. Whatever you do, don’t stop knitting into the back of the stitch now. But, you do need to keep the yarn overs loose. If you don’t, I’m afraid the yoke will be too tight on her shoulders.”

So that night when I got home, I sat down and worked really hard at being loose. Those rows with the loose yarn overs took forever to knit; leaving slack in the yarn is just not in my nature. But I approached more “relaxed” knitting with the same fierceness that any Type A over achiever would, and I did it. I knitted nice loose eyelets that were just like those, in size and stitch, of the pattern.

Throughout my daughter’s life, I have embraced every growth spurt excitedly, wondering what new developmental milestone would be conquered with the next episode of growth. But when, during the two-month knitting of this sweater, she began to eat hearty dinners and breakfasts, I held my breath, hoping that this suddenly craving for calories did not portend another growth spurt in the making.

When I started the sweater in June, it was going to be a bit too big for my daughter. It would easily fit over a turtle neck, providing layered warmth for the cold winter months. As I knitted, I held up finished sleeves to check the fit. It looked like I would be rolling up the cuffs of the sleeves.

By the time I finished the eyelet yoke and tried the sweater on my daughter, it was clear that this sweater could only be worn over a thin blouse, to provide warmth during the evening coolness of late summer or crisp early fall days. And I won’t be rolling up the sleeves, either. Apparently this last growth spurt involved lengthening the humerus, radius and ulna—with any luck the weather will turn cool before I need to invest in a shirt that has cuffs I can roll up over the sweater.

So, at last, I have sewed on the purple flower button (which now replaces the blue soccer ball button originally selected) and blocked the sweater, thankful that I used a stretchy wool acrylic blend instead of the recommended cotton so I can try to accommodate the longer arms and “super big muscles” that my daughter is trying hard to develop. And now, she is ready with a hand-knit sweater for the cool weather—provided she doesn’t have another growth spurt.

© 2010 Michele Arduengo. All Rights Reserved.

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