Blood, toil, tears and sweaters

I highly recommend using sock yarn for sweaters because it's machine washable.

I knit for fun, really I do. I like to have something to do with my hands when watching TV, or riding in the car, or waiting at the dentist.  I also like to plan projects, and see them come alive.  A couple of years ago, the girl was reading the American Girl books, and when reading the Kirsten series, she asked me for a sweater like Kirsten’s mom made for her. It was cute- a black and white, Nordic ski sweater. I had played a little with knitting in two colors, and felt comfortable with it, so I took on the project.

We wound up misplacing the book- it turned up later in the closet under the stairs, so I couldn’t make up the pattern by looking at the illustration on the cover.  At that point I didn’t feel comfortable looking at an illustration and making up a sweater pattern anyway. 

The inspiration for the sweater. we never made the hat or mittens.

Actually, I don’t think I could do that now, either… So I found a pattern in “Knitting Without Tears” from the library. This is a book I highly recommend, by the way, if you are ready to graduate from scarves.

I cast on about 200 stitches in sock yarn for the body, and started on the patterns going up the body to the armpits. It was kind of fascinating- you hold the black yarn in one hand, the white in the other, and go across the rows, knitting four of black, 3 of white, or whatever, and row by row the pattern builds. Checkerboards, snowflakes, giant backward letter “s” . With the amount of work this was going to be, I wanted it to fit for a  few years, so I made it extra long, and by the time I got to the armpits, it was time to start the sleeves.  This was where I got stalled. 

You look at a sleeve, and it looks small, but it winds up being more than a quarter of the size of the body of a sweater. I cast on what I thought was the right number of stitches, and went about 4 inches, before I thought of trying it on the girl. Too small. It is now a mini dress for Barbie. Start over, The other thing about sleeves is that they can’t be just cylindircal, because arms aren’t. But the thing about working with two colors, is most of the patterns have repeats of 8 stitches, so increasing gradually messes up the pattern, and increasing too suddenly makes the arm look goofy.  Ask me how I know. 

By now it was March, and even though in Norway, I am sure people wear Norwegian sweaters well into summer, here in Northern Colorado, we are riding bikes and playing soccer. I put away the sweater for a while as being just too frustrating.

Took it out again in the fall, ripped out the sleeves, reknit to make sure they matched, then attached them to the body of the sweater. At this point, I really started cruising. It still took a while, though.  The girl’s school had a spirit day, whose theme was “Dress as a book character” I made it down the home stretch and finished the Kirsten Sweater in time for her to wear it to school. 

Now, the reason this has come up now, 3 years after I started knitting that thing, and 2 and a half years after I finished it, is that when I picked up the girl the other day at school, she was wearing it. “Oh, you haven’t worn that for a while.” I said.

“Yeah, I just found it in the lost and found.”

Yikes- the school newsletter had just announced that as of  Friday, anything still in the lost and found would be taken to Goodwill. As I said, I knit because I enjoy it, but that sweater has a little bit of my soul in it, and the thought of it being sold at a thrift store was a little jarring. I’m glad to have it home again. Don’t ask me what I’ll do when she outgrows it. I’m not ready to think about it.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Candace O'C
    Dec 20, 2010 @ 19:47:00

    Thank God Lily has not read the Kirsten series! That sweater would have eaten me alive! You should call me this week and we will make a date to go to My Sister Knits around the corner from my house. They aren’t open today (Monday), but they will be the rest of the week. It’s always more fun to go with a friend.


  2. Felecia
    Dec 21, 2010 @ 02:15:43

    The whole knitting in two colors thing was miraculous as far as I’m concerned…I don’t know the difference between sock yarn and some other kind of yarn…I know I bought $1 yarn to make candy cane reindeer with my son but that is not related in any way to this comment…I write all this to say HOLY COW YOU ROCK!!! PS…can you knit me a sweater? I SWEAR I’ll NEVER let it fall into the hands of lost and found.


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