Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sideways...charge!

I don't know about you all, but I find that sometimes I have to sneak up on things that I think of as hard. Attack them from the side, as it were. Generally what happens is that I'm going along, making plans to do one thing, while all along some back part of my brain is slyly making alternative plans and just when I think I know what I'm doing and where I'm going, bam, there I am doing something else.

This, I think, is how I got myself into spinning, for example. It was only after I'd started that I realized that I'd been wanting to learn to spin far longer than any other fibrous activity, but that I didn't know what I'd do with all that yarn. So I learned how to knit, and now I have lots of reasons to have that much yarn, right? (See last post.) Excellent example of the sideways attack. (And thinking about it now, this is how I became a linguist; there I was, going along, planning to become a trial lawyer (!!), when I took one class in linguistics and found myself getting a Ph.D. in the subject. Man, was that a shocker.)

My latest project is another case in point. Remember how I was saying just a few days ago that I was considering knitting the Sunrise Circle Jacket (Ravelry link) for myself? And that I was thinking of doing that because I doing my best to avoid knitting of a sweater of my own devising? And that I have the yarn and everything? Well, that was my intent. Truly it was.

Which is apparently why I'm busily knitting the Big Thaw Pullover from the Fall 2008 Knitscene for Rick. Oops.

See what I mean? It turns out (and I know this) that I am a wee bit afraid of knitting sweaters. I will merrily sign on to knit 1400 yards of laceweight in patterns of surpassing complexity without batting an eye, but suggest to me that I might think about knitting a (gasp) cardigan and I curl up in a small ball and try to look inconspicuous. Sweaters have pieces. Lots of pieces. And, perhaps more daunting, when it comes to sweaters, gauge matters. I mean, I know that gauge matters with lace, too, but the relative risk of a gauge error is less. How many people have you heard say that they can't wear that lace shawl because it doesn't fit? Not many.

Even socks and mitts don't carry quite the same pressure. I mean yes, things can go awry should gauge get misjudged, but assuming that one is paying attention, it usually becomes obvious that one is knitting elephant socks fairly rapidly. And frogging a sock is somehow much less traumatic for me (ymmv) than frogging a whole sweater (anyone remember the angst I dragged everyone through when I was deciding to frog Kauni almost exactly a year ago? No? Good, I'm glad the therapy is working...).

So sweaters are my personal Everest. Big, daunting, requiring a huge run-up before the actual leap. In fact, it's better if I don't even realize that I'm taking that leap until I'm already on the way over the edge (this life strategy may be, come to think of it, why I'm afraid of exposed heights; what if I jump because it seems like an interesting thing to do and only on the way down realize what a really bad idea that was?). And knitting a sweater for Rick is, frankly, even more of a commitment than knitting one for, say, Younger Daughter. He is, after all, 6'6". He has the wingspan of a condor. To date, I have knitted him socks, mitts, and a vest; note the strategic choice of a vest -- no sleeves (hey, I'm not stupid). But now I'm committed.

(I heard that.)

As evidence of exactly how long I can sneak up sideways on a project like this, I am knitting this sweater with the yarn I bought some time ago at the giant sale at Common Threads. Yarn that I bought with this sweater in mind. So clearly my backbrain has been working on bringing me up to the gate on this one for a while. I am in love with this yarn, by the way. It may be the only cotton I have ever loved. It's Blue Sky Cotton, in a lovely chocolate brown (the Toffee colorway on that page), and I'm glad I love it, since I'm clearly going to be living with it for a while.

In the meantime, I finished the socks that I was knitting for Anna. I took one bad picture (it was nighttime) before giving them to her, which I haven't uploaded yet so you can't see it, but I'll ask her if she can take a picture of them on her feet to share with us. I think that they turned out well, and Anna seemed happy to get them (but she's a nice person, so she might have been faking it). I think I mentioned how happy I am with the yarn (Lime and Violet's Intentions yarn that I got at The Loopy Ewe); I have some left over and I can't wait to knit with it again.

Other than that, I have something else on the needles that I can't post about since I think that the person I'm knitting it for might read the blog from time to time, and I don't want to ruin the surprise. I'll be knitting that whenever I need a break from feeling overwhelmed by knitting a sweater whose yoke is supposed to be almost 28 inches across (!!). Or by wondering what else my brain might be sneaking up on sideways while I'm distracted by this project (a terrifying prospect). Maybe what I really need is a single-malt scotch.

17 comments:

Lynne said...

I'm always telling DD there's always a back door! So she didn't graduate from high school - there's TAFE and mature age entry to Uni [in more than one way]. So, your mark's not high enough for the Science degree - do an Arts degree then switch over, etc, etc.

But a brain working overtime to take you sideways? Hmm, bears thinking upon! [Is it still bad to end a sentence with a preposition - we do it all the time in Oz!!]

Stell said...

sides ways works just fine, without major derailments I suspect we all end up close to where we really needed to be, one way or another. Sweaters - I can do those, but lace - have you seen me procrastinate on a lace swatch, let along the real thing? I am in awe of your lace knitting, sweaters apart from a albatross like wingspan should hold no fear to you.

Anne said...

Scotch. Yes. I hope you notice that no one is knitting sweaters for Michael Phelps, either, as he appears to have a wingspan comparable to that of your spouse ...

KnitNana said...

hmmmm...scotch as the antidote to sweater angst. Interesting...
(and I'm right there with ya on the sweaters! I'm hoping to make the top-down Daily Sweater in MDK's new book...I.HOPE.)
(((hugs)))

Marianne said...

Hah! I SO get it about the sideways sneak up and resulting charge! Love the Big Thaw Pullover.
ahem... sweaters don't have to be 'pieces', you know that! :^)

Rachel said...

And I thought you are knitting those sideways socks when I saw your headline,,,

Sweaters are not difficult at all, just use the diagram (I hope your pattern have one,,,) and measure often, good luck:)

AlisonH said...

Heh. I once knitted a teenage boy a sweater that the sleeves came out long enough that I whacked them, reknit the cuffs downwards, took the cutoffs and finished them as small baby bonnets. Told him I was saving one for his future firstborn and embarrassed the heck out of him.

Joy said...

Still giggling over the title ;) Best of luck with the sweater - there's always the sleeve-as-swatch school of thought. I see you've already gone the vest route, which I thought of suggesting until I read further.

Anonymous said...

I've got, in sight, 4 or 5 sweaters started for me...over the past 3 or 4 years...the 4 or 5 stemming from two different starts on one batch of yarn...sigh. The one in my lap is actually up to the final ribbing so it might get worn. It's Mr. Greenjeans from Knitty - top-down so I could try it on as I go - which, apparently, is one of my "keys" to actually completing a sweater for myself. Knitting a sweater for my younger son - he's 4 and therefore requires less yarn and smaller pieces - also works (he's had 3 completed sweaters!). The sewing machine is much faster though!

EGunn said...

Congratulations on starting a sweater! (Even if it is a sideways attack, at least it's an attack.) You should try a seamless sweater, knit in the round and try on as you go. I usually end up starting the hem, getting 2 inches in, frogging, recalculating, and then the gauge is perfect. As long as you make it all up and try it on often, sweaters are pretty fun. =)

And I sympathize on the long-armed spouse thing...I hope Rick appreciates it!

Carrie K said...

Clearly you need a different spouse to knit for. ;)

Good luck on the sideways attack! Doesn't it seem sometimes that you are amassing enough knowledge for X when X was never in your sights?

Rachael said...

hello! I have finally caught up! I sympathize with the sweater thing, I just got back to a sweater for scott, he's 'only' 6'1", but he also wears tall sizes and I'm feeling like it's going to take quite a while - that's probably why I put it down for just over a year. ;-)

I think sometimes the best things happen upon us sideways, but maybe I'm just optimistic like that.

Do you need any yarn donations for your give away? I have some I could certainly part with for a good cause!

adrienne said...

i left you a pm over on ravelry. i need your email addy so i can send you an invite to the carefree kal.

i started knitting sweaters early on. i will still knit one but i love socks and shawls now.

you are doing great!

Mary Lou said...

We are funny people, we knitters. I know so many people who freeze at the idea of lace, and you whip out the most complex lace without batting an eye. The sweaters go fast, really.

Alisha said...

I have been working on a sweater for hubby for a year and half. It is a lot of stitches. I plan on taking it this weekend to my in laws for Thanksgiving. It will be the only knitting I take!! Three and a half hour drive there and back....I should be able to get a good chunk done driving and while visiting....I hope. It is one of those things were I just want it finished now LOL

Bea said...

I think the sweater will work out just fine.

fiberjoy said...

That's a great looking sweater pattern. You may find that you love knitting sweaters. And then, maybe not. My one and only sweater was very daunting at times but once it was made... well, I keep wishing I had the time to make myself another one.