It’s been a long time since I have made an outfit especially for a date, but I feel like I’m in my twenties again. The advantage making an outfit for a date with your husband is that if you don’t get your outfit made in time, it’s okay. The disadvantage is that the long periods of time that you had to work on your outfit when you were single have been replaced by short intervals snatched between work, commute, dishes, laundry and assorted “Mommy can you’s”. Furthermore, you simply must control the temper tantrums that accompany any ripping out, lest you find yourself explaining to a teacher where your daughter heard that word.
I started this particular outfit 13 months ago, with no intention of having it for anything special. I was knitting a bolero sweater of “intermediate” difficulty. I liked the pattern, it was a “small” sweater that would be challenging for me to knit, but wouldn’t take too long.
The knitting was simple, but the single-stranded wool kept splitting on the wooden needles. Since it also required a lot of seaming, measuring was critical. The knitted yarn was stretchy, and I could make it measure any length I wanted. This stretchiness, combined with my own inability to use a tape measure, meant that every time I measured the back from the cast on edge to determine the placement of first armhole decrease, I got a different number.
After I finished the back, I started the front panels. Fortunately another knitter on Ravelry.com, who had knit this pattern, noted that the stitch counts for the pattern were wrong; her notes saved me much headache. Historically needlework and sewing have always been social pursuits; think of quilting circles, but modern social media have taken this aspect into a new realm. A splurge on metal interchangeable needles took care of the yarn splitting problem, and the right front went beautifully. The left front went beautifully too. Unfortunately when I bound off, I discovered that the armhole was on the side that should have had the neck edge, and the neck edge was on the side that should have had the armhole. Time to frog (rip it, rip it) and start again.
The left front sat unknit for several months. As summer progressed and the 4th of July marked its coming demise, I renewed my determination to finish this sweater before fall.
The left front was completed. Then the first sleeve. And it was huge. Granted on a bolero sweater the arms are proportionally longer, but I as I wrote in my Ravelry notes: “I fear I am knitting a sweater for a Gibbon.” I commented on this to my fellow knitters, and this sweater became known as the gibbon sweater. Soon though, I was blocking the pieces and sewing the seams. Now time to pick up the 300+ stitches for the ribbed border.
As I got closer to the finish, the weather cooled suddenly. The onset of the cool weather coincided with a date night for my husband and me, and I found myself knitting like a fiend in every free five-minute span I could find. Round and round, K3P3 over and over. I really wanted this sweater off the needles, so I sought the advice of more experienced knitters “Did I really have to make the border a full 3.5 inches?” They advised me to put a piece of stitch-holding yarn through the loops, take it off the needles, try it on and see.
My gut said, “knit more”. But my mind and my hands said, “bind off.” Then one of the knitters made a comment I could not ignore, “It will be more elegant if it comes up higher on the neck.”
More late-night knitting and the sweater was ready.
“Yes, and it only took 13 months.” I twirled to model the sweater.
“Well, it’s beautiful”
What did my daughter think? As I brushed my hair, she told me: “You look like Mother Gothel.”
Hopefully she meant I looked like Mother Gothel after Rapunzel sings. At least she didn’t tell me I looked like a gibbon.
©2011 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.