Friday, September 27, 2013

Finished With Denial

I've been chatting with lots of friends, lately, about sweater knitting.  I used to knit sweaters, but when my love of sock knitting took hold - I lost sweaters for a while.  When I'd been bitten by the sweater bug and wanted to return (this also means I live in New England and wore out the few sweaters I'd knit for myself instead of for my loved ones and realized I only like hand-knit sweaters, therefore, I would need to knit them) to it, my skill and desires were not aligned. 

The sweater knitter within had always been happy with a simple, top-down raglan sweater with no interesting cables or patterns.  Just your basic, 'can knit this after a hard day of farming without much thinking' type of sweater.  But,  the knitter that I am now finds this simplicity boring.  The wearer of knitted goods that I am now expects fit and flatter and at least a touch of the magic that is achieved by wise ones like this lady - who can and willingly will teach you a lot about fabulous sweater construction. 

This is all good news for the returning to sweater love me - except for the WIP basket and the proof within - that I've continued to knit simple sweaters (and poorly, even) in spite of my desire to do otherwise.  See, the returning to an old love me is totally in for the full experience.  I am eager to learn, to grow, to apply old wisdom, to figure out why I strayed in the first place, and to make a home for sweater knitting, again, that feels totally right for me.  I can apply what I knew then, what I learned along the way in other knitting projects, and what I'm hungrily devouring now.  But, anyone who knows me even a little knows I'm not one to give up on something - even if it is a most obvious failure.  I keep thinking if I clap long enough, and wish and believe, it will be good.

At the Common Ground Fair last week, I was talking to an old friend about this very sort of denial and how frustratingly stagnant it is.  In the time spent clapping and believing, you could solve your problem 40 times over.  We went back and forth describing scenarios wherein we both acknowledged we had already learned the lesson but it just wasn't something we applied anywhere else.  Grr!  We started problem solving, knitting, and enjoying some cider.  I remarked that I didn't want to give up on the hopeful inspiration that is believing you can do anything you want to do and do it well but the stagnant denial had to go.  She very simply declared, "It's obviously time to BE the solution."  We laughed, a little nervously for both of us I think, and hugged and promised to meet up again before the Fair next year.  We do this every year and for 10 years have only seen one another at the Fair each year.  We just walk away, keep clapping and believing, and let life get so busy and chaotic that we are barely coming up for air next year around the same time.  I half know that it will be next year before I see her again but I also know this - I will BE the solution every day for that year so that, when we hug and laugh and knit and shed tears over all that was the year before the next time, I will be wearing a fabulous sweater.  A 'being the solution' flag, if you will.

So, naturally, I cast on a brilliant sweater in some yarn I am vehemently in love with.  I'm showing you neither today but I will very soon, I promise!

Today, I am breaking a chain.  I'm finished with a lot of things, but mostly with denial.  Our Ravelry group has a 'Fall Finish Along' going on until late November.  Anyone and everyone is invited to finish something in their WIP basket and show it off.  I went digging and pulled out some of my most shameful lingering projects.  At first glance, this ICED sweater seems a sad waste of time spent in the WIP basket, for all it needs is one sleeve and the collar.  I pulled it out, declared it was my easy finish and it sat.  And it sat.  And then it sat some more on my counter for three weeks.  Seriously?  It's a bulky wgt yarn with only a sleeve and collar left?  No, it's really not.

The questions started pecking at me - why didn't I do the collar?  I remember why.  I knew I wanted and needed some extra length on the sweater and should have done some short row shaping at the waist to drop the shape of the back a little more.  But, I was swimming freely in denial at the time and didn't want to take the time to do it.  I wanted my sweater NOWAH.  So, I knit the garter bottom, yes, in spite of knowing I would not be happy with it, and went on 'believing'.  Only, I kind of knew it because, if not, I would have snapped and knit that collar right on with no hesitation.  I moved to a sleeve instead.  A sleeve I did not finish the way I wanted it, with a garter cuff to match the bottom.  So, I went on to the OTHER sleeve.  Because, walking away from a problem is always the key to finding it solved, right?  No.  It really isn't.

This was supposed to be a 2 week, at most, project.  Just some leisurely knitting to take along to an outing or while watching a movie or something.  It could have easily been done.  Now?  Now it is a simple sweater turned into a 6+ month process of avoiding three simple truths. 

Truth #1 - the garter bottom needs ripping out, some short row shaping inserted, then re-knit the bottom.  Totally doable in one evening of knitting.

Truth #2 - the sleeve cuff needs adjusting.  Even more doable.  We're talking an hour, tops, of knitting here, what is wrong with me?

Truth #3 - that collar is not there because I love it and I couldn't allow myself to knit it without facing truth #1 first and having an end result I will actually love wearing.  Even in my firm fidelity to denial knitting, I have yearned to be the solution.  There must be better ways to torture myself than getting pneumonia from lack of sweaters and making the simplest thing too hard.  Even my self-destruction is a geek.

I am ashamed.  Ashamed!  My only consolation is that this is totally fixable.  I hope I will wear the cardi for many years to come and, at least half way through them, not wince in shame every time I think of how long it took me to knit a simple sweater.  Well, my consolation is that and this sweater I'm working on now.  Yeah, I lied, I'm totally showing you my Rhinebeck Sweater.  Annie Modesitt, you've really rocked my world with this design - I love it!  If you are also love slapped by this sweater, you should knit one, right now.  You can find it here.  The yarn is a new base I'm adding to the shop next week - it's a gorgeously soft worsted wgt merino/cashmere/nylon blend that just makes you sigh and make happy, contented sounds when you are knitting with it.  It's dyed in my 'Dragon's Blood' colorway because I really need a seriously red sweater with a v-neck.  It's going to be my armor as I power trudge against the current of the river of denial.