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August 7, 2009

My first sweater, my first freak out.

It took me less time to knit the entire back piece of the baby sweater than it took to figure out what the pattern wanted me to do for the last two rows. I had to read, re-read, scrutinize, guess, prognosticate, channel. Still I was clueless. I know that I am a real picky pattern reader and also that I am not some great advanced knitter, but seriously people. One or two basic connecting words could do a whole lot to make most patterns go from Sanskrit to readable. Help a knitter out will you. Embrace the preposition!

Anyway, I was on the bus and I was at the very end of knitting the back piece and all I had to do was finish the last two rows and I pored over the instructions as if they would somehow rearrange into real words that made sense to me, which they did not, and I felt my frustration growing higher. I was on the crappy bus with minimal air conditioning and it was lurching and belching its way up the freeway and I couldn't call anyone to ask for help and finally, as I was about to devolve into frustration and give up, I had a little talk with myself which ended with, "Screw it! Do the best you can and move on!"

So I did. I followed the pattern to the best of my ability and moved on to the next piece. Take that, inner perfectionist! If I knitted the last rows of the back section all wrong I will figure it out during seaming and you know what? If I have to unravel and re-knit a couple of rows the earth will still keep spinning on its axis. It's not nuclear disarmament, it's a baby sweater.

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This pattern is the seed-stitch cardigan from Debbie Bliss Baby Knits for Beginners. (If these are the beginning patterns I must belong with the remedial patterns book.) (Hopefully the more I get used to reading patterns I'll get better at decoding it all.) The yarn recommended for this project is just scrumptious, though, soft and rich and supple, it's Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino Yarn, I'm using color Red #700. I am knitting it with needles a size larger than recommended -- though I could have gone up one more size and my stitches would probably sit better. Yesterday at lunchtime Corey and I went to the cafeteria and knitted and when I told her the pattern called for a size 2 needle, she said, "Oh man, if you had tried to knit with a size 2, all you'd have would be a tight little knot!" and we laughed. I am a SupaTight Knitter. I can make impermeable barriers of stockinette.

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See how my stitches look like herringbone instead of perfect stockinette Vs? I think it's either because I purl less tightly than I knit or because I should be up one needle size. But I don't mind it. I doubt the Knitting Police will come to my house and repossess my stash. In case you have not noticed, I am henceforth renouncing my ridiculous perfectionism. I'm over it. Mostly.

Edited to add: I'm getting a lot of emails from readers suggesting it could be the yarn ply making that stitch look the way it does. I love blame, so I am all about it. Let's blame the yarn! Here is the link to Knitty's yarn ply story. Thanks to reader Megan for the link! And Beth! And Kristen and everyone who emailed!

The needles I'm using are Crystal Palace bamboo straight needles that I bought here. These are by far my favorite brand of needles and they aren't any more expensive than the Clover needles I see in local shops. I happened on my first pair of these needles a few years back in a local yarn shop that has since closed and I can't seem to find this brand anywhere but online. But they are worth the shipping, in my opinion, smooth and warm and I love the way they feel in my hands. I mostly love the old-fashioned perfect ball at the end of each needle. Little things like that make me happy. I think these are the smallest size needles I have ever knit with, sizes 3 and 4! Insane.

I finished the back piece (or I think I did, time will tell) and I'm about halfway through the left front side. Loving the seed stitch border, so cute! My plan for the weekend is to summer hibernate (did you know there was a word for summer hibernating? Thank you to the reader who emailed me -- it's "estivate." Seriously!) and I hope I'll be able to knit all weekend and finish it or at least get most of the pieces done. I'm still on my kick of watching movies set in cold, snowy places as part of my hibernating. Last weekend I watched Snow Walker and it was pretty good. This weekend it's either Dr. Zhivago or The Cutting Edge ... thank goodness there is no Rorschach test based on your movie choices.

I am thrilled that it's Friday. Thrilled, I tell you. Like exhaling, that's what it feels like. Long week. Five days of one thing for two of another, how's that?

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Bob smiles! He likes weekends, too.


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Edited to add: Thanks to all the kind souls emailing me to help with the pattern... Ellen was patient enough to go over it with me line by line and it turns out I had done it correctly but I still think it's funkadelic. Anyway. I'm moving on... moving on to sleeves....
Thanks Ellen!

Posted by laurie at August 7, 2009 8:24 AM