Monday, May 11, 2009

Knit-A-Morphosis Part I

The above is a picture of the first sweater I ever made. Oh, I know it looks like a bag. And, in fact, that’s what it really is—now. But once upon a time, it was a sweater. As sweaters go, it was a pretty bad one. The stitches were very consistent and the yarn—gently variegated—was (and still is) gorgeous. But at the time I got it in my head to make it, I was a novice determined to figure out pattern reading on my own.

Anything I didn’t understand—say the meaning of ssk—I sort of just skipped over. Also, I was working with the Peppermint Twist pattern featured in Debbie Stoller’s first Stitch ‘n Bitch book.

That sweater is cropped. As my mid-section still features some of my pregnancy fat (even though my son is, I admit, 18) no way was I showing off my midriff. So I improvised to lengthen it. Eventually, I managed to come up with, roughly speaking, the necessary components to put the sweater together. A front. A back. A couple of sleeves. I even tossed in some stripes.

It’s what happened next that really went wrong. (Or, let’s be generous and say, where things really went differently.) I didn’t know how to seam properly. I glanced at the illustrations in S&B. And then I thought, To heck with it, I’ll just sew it up however I feel like it. (This is the same attitude that caused my junior high home ec teacher to suffer migraines when she watched me work.)

You know that old saying about sugar—One lump or two? This sweater emptied out the sugar bowl entirely, that’s how lumpy it was. And it wasn’t quite long enough. And the sleeves weren’t exactly height/length proportional. But I had spent so much time on it, I was bound and determined to wear it, which I did all five days of each year that the temperature in Austin dropped down below 62 degrees.

For a long time, I never washed it. Mostly I’d dab away schmutz with a damp cloth. Then, in one of those “time saving” moments, I got it into my head that the sweater could be tossed in the washer on gentle. I guess I forgot to switch it to cold water. It came out semi-felted, sort of child-sized, if I could find a child with a very odd body shape. So I decided to turn it into a bag. The results were great if you don’t count the heartbreak I felt at having destroyed the sweater.

I’ve made a number of others since that first one. And I’ve learned a lesson: those puppies aren’t even allowed on the side of the house where the washer lives.

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