Friday, December 31, 2010

Never Did Run Smooth

No Christmas post?

No day after Christmas/Boxing Day/St. Stephen's Day (gloating) post?

No anniversary (33 years and counting) post?

I'll just have to write a last day of the year post. Closure and all that.

The variously named Grey/Gray/Eldest Nephew/Oldest Nephew Sweater did indeed get finished in time for the Great Gift Exchange on Christmas Eve. I even remembered to work in the phony seams.

The home stretch was not, however, without trauma.

Trauma #1. You'll just have to take my word for it. The trauma was so great I didn't photograph it. Despite all the careful measuring both with ruler and yardstick (because tape measures stretch and are therefore unreliable) and against the original sweater, despite having the Lord Protector stand in for fittings, despite previous experience with this yarn, when compared to the original sweater the finished object came out about 1/2 to 1 inch short in the body -- which I could have lived with (knitting stretches) -- and a good 3 inches (!) short in the sleeves. (I know. That was a dreadful sentence, both in form and content. Imagine the horror that must have engendered it.) A fitting on the Lord Protector -- forced into mannequin service as the only available young male -- was not reassuring. It didn't matter that my brain knew he is taller and stockier than the Eldest Nephew. I foresaw Christmas Sweater Disaster looming and wished I had heeded The Panopticon's video and bought the Eldest Nephew a new pair of roller skates.

At this point the Princess was sent off to Brooks Brothers for a gift card. Desperation, however, will drive one to any and all things; I went ahead and blocked the sweater.

Trauma #2. It blocked huge. Even huger than I had been expecting, given previous blocking experience.

Standing and staring in horror at the blocking board, I was irresistibly reminded of the "Useful presents" in "A Child's Christmas in Wales" where Dylan Thomas writes about "engulfing mufflers of the old coach days" and "zebra scarfs of a substance like sticky gum that could be tug-o'-warred down to the galoshes." The gift card was looking better all the time.

Trauma #3. No photograph here either, but The Cat, apparently compulsively drawn to a sweater so near to her own coloring, and at that time desperately in need of having her claws trimmed (see where this is going, do you?), not only nested on the sweater over-night, but managed to catch a single stitch on her claw. I cannot begin to express the panic. I was clearly not nearly as wedded to the idea of the gift card as I thought I had become.

Factor in my apparent complete inability to make a square into a circle (neckline) and the resulting gaping stitches where the corners had been. These had only been exacerbated when the Lord Protector did the fitting thing. The incredible stretching properties of the wet yarn had done nothing to improve matters.

There I was on December 23rd, I think I can safely say, not rejoicing. This does not mean, however, that my ability to deny reality was in any way diminished. In a mind-boggling episode of "wishing will make it so," I threaded up my Chibi and started weaving in ends. Which led to my final burst of creativity and decision to reinforce the stress points (the grafting under the arms, the corners of the neckline) and, while I was at it, to duplicate stitch over the Cat Disaster and several stitches beyond.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Otherwise there is no way that all of this should have resulted in a wearable sweater. The weaving in and reinforcing worked. The sweater pulled in some while it dried. I handed it over on Christmas Eve, along with the original and a sweater shaver (because the yarn is so soft, it pills if you look at it cross-eyed). It is a little big. I'll say I made it that way on purpose in case he ever wants to wear it over a button-down shirt.

Oh, and those 3-inches-too-short sleeves?

The sweater didn't pull in that much.

1 comment:

PghCathy said...

Oh not! I'm surprised you weren't so traumatized that you overdosed on eggnog!