First, a quick Shrug Slog update: I am about three inches away from finishing the back. Again. At that point, I will seam up the sides and try it on. If it does not seem to more closely approximate the fit that I want and see in the pattern photos, I will concede defeat. The only question left at that point will be whether the yarn will be frogged (again) and repurposed (in several years, when I am less bitter), or whether there will be a bonfire.
Some thoughts on the Shrug Slog and similar: Those of you who are more perspicacious than I (and evidence would suggest that this is all of you) may note that I did this exact same thing last fall, while knitting a sweater for the exact same conference, because I am presenting a paper on knitters and wish to Represent. Not only are those elements all the same, up to and including the frogging of a (this year nearly-, last year entirely-) complete sweater, but there is a structural similarity to the garments as well. They are both origami-type knits. Clever. Interesting. But put together in such a way that it is not possible to try them on as one goes. In fact, it isn't possible to get any sense at all of whether they will fit until they are done. I'm coming to the conclusion that such garments do not best suit my knitting style, and/or my personality (still contemplating where, exactly, the mismatch lies); in any case, I will be forewarned in the future. I should note that these experiences only reinforce my long-standing prejudice against cleverness for cleverness' sake. I'm all for cleverness that addresses an actual problem, or that makes things easier. Cleverness that only exists so that people can gasp in awe at the cleverness of the creator, not so much. I'm fairly ecumenical in my dislike; most of the snide marginalia I append to journal articles/conference presentation handouts/the notes I take during conferences, are for people who make up clever theories that really don't do anything that pre-existing theories don't already do (I'm currently struggling to see what Bakhtin's chronotopes do for us, really - can you tell?).
Anyway, as I struggle through my conference sweater, so am I struggling through my conference presentation, which is a paper in a session entitled "Circulating Discourses", and which has to do with discourses about knitters through time. I currently have culled 27 pages of quotes, falling into about 12 major themes, from my data and from (in particular) No Idle Hands, a brilliant book with an amazing range of quotes from primary source. (Note: this is a 15-minute presentation; further culling is required.) The common themes are quite striking (either that, or I've spent far too much time thinking about this - also a possibility). Just one set of quotes you might find interesting:
Lydia Sigourney, writing in the early 1800, recommended knitting as “quiet employment, favourable to reflection … a ready vehicle of charity to the poor … [and] well adapted to save those little fragments of time which might else be lost.” (No Idle Hands:54)
From my online survey: “I enjoy the process and the product. Knitting relaxes me, keeps my hands busy but my mind free. And there is nothing better than handknit socks.” (Survey 8/9/09)
Also from my online survey: “Knitting is a creative activity, a productive activity and also provides stress relief. It helps me to concentrate when listening through lectures or difficult meetings.” (Survey 7/28/09)
Some things apparently don't change all that much.