Do you remember last week when I told you I was going to have a cathartic spring cleaning of my knitting bags? How I said that all the clutter of unfinished projects and things floating around in the knitting bags was clouding my mind?

Well, I did it! I finally finished the Diagnoal Rib socks – great pattern by the way. I will definitely be knitting another pair of those.

I ripped out the minimal progress made on the Chinese Sweater. This pattern and I have been on shaky ground since the moment I cast on. I like the pattern. I like the yarn. I just don’t know if I would wear it. So out it came.

I also ripped back an almost completed project! This is a bit of a shocker and perhaps the most cathartic thing of all.

I started this aran sweater jacket years ago. It was May of 2003. If you followed that link you will see that by January of 2004 it was already doomed – that it hadn’t been worked on in months.

What was the problem you ask? prepare for admission of insanity ….. I cast on knowing full well the thing wouldn’t fit. Did you hear that? I knew it wasn’t going to fit and I cast on for it anyway. It was a part of my dieting plan. Kind of like those cookie jars and fridge magnets that talk to you and tell you to quit eating? My plan was to knit and diet at the same time, thereby providing motivation! brilliant, no?

So of course, it sat in my knitting bag for years. Last summer when Chelsea came to visit I gave her a tour of the stash and the knitting bags. I dragged this thing out from behind an armchair where I had hidden it. The knitting bag itself was covered in dust.

After only a minute or two of looking at it, Chelsea pointed out that even if it did fit, it wouldn’t look good. That it had bobbles and popcorn stitch, all over it. That adding ½” to my perimeter or anyone’s for that matter, is probably not a good idea. She wondered what was the matter with me anyway?! She’s a smart one, she is.

So I felt much better about not knitting the sweater and shoved it back behind the chair. I also kind of forgot about it.

Then I got the book Big Girl Knits. Even if you’re not a big girl, this book is great for the info on shaping and measuring. Definitely worth reading no matter what your size.

In the first couple of chapters they had a line in there that has been sounding like a gong in my head ever since I read it. It all has to do with choosing patterns. They advise you to ask yourself it you want the sweater in the picture, or the lifestlye that the model seems to be living.

Do I want the sweater or the lifestyle the model seems to be living?

That just slays me. And got me thinking ……. I think what I liked most about the aran sweater/jacket was the model’s hair.

And there is no amount of bobble stitch or popcorn stitch that is going to give me untamed and touseled red curls.

11 thoughts on “

  1. Excellent advice. So, then, are you going to use the yarn from the doomed Aran Jacket to knit something from Big Girl Knits? It just sorta seems like you should… I have frogged a completely finished sweater (except for buttons — but I had them!) and it DOES feel good to free the fiber!!

  2. I frogged my unfinished Einstein coat last year right before Christmas and it felt GREAT. Good for you! As for the model’s lifestyle vs. the knit item, I think we have to put some of the responsibility for that at the feet of the publisher of the pattern. How many times do we get a Vogue Knitting or an Interweave Knits and we can’t even see the pattern clearly because they were being all artistic with the photo shoot? It’s nice to see tousled red curls blowing in the breeze of an English moor – but I’d rather see what the sweater looks like!

  3. Chelsea got a TOUR OF THE KNITTING? I don’t remember a tour of the knitting. I didn’t see this aran with the flowing red curls. Huh.

  4. It is very difficult for me to distinguish between wanting the sweater and wanting the lifestyle. Maybe that’s why I never knit sweaters. Socks are so much simpler. And shawls don’t have to fit!

    Of course, that’s the wuss’s way out.

  5. Yeah, that’s why I frogged my cable sweater. I’d never wear it, and now I realize, I’ll never have the long straight hair the model did either.

    Yay for finishing the Diag Ribbed Sox!

  6. When I read that line I nearly cancelled my Rowan subscription.


    I believe that if I just pick the right sweater, I WILL get the lifestyle. xox Kay

  7. If you like the Asian style, how about that Geisha Cape down below the Chinese sweater? That would be fun to see as it progressed.

  8. Oh, dearest, we are so simpatico. Last weekend I started a capelet with this really gorgeous hand-dyed cashmere/silk blend I bought for cheap at School Products. I had just finished my Major Lace Project and wanted something that would be a quick knit. The capelet seemed just the thing: only 21 rows, lacework much easier than that with which I’d spent the past two months: what’s not to love?

    Well, there did seem to be an awful lot of yarnovers. Specifically, there were four rows that pretty much called for three yarnovers for every other stitch. By the time I got to row 18, it felt like there were 1,000 stitches on the needles. Knitting a single row was an entire evening’s work. I was using extra-long needles, and yet the stitches were crammed on so tightly that I couldn’t stretch it out to see what it looked like.

    “You might want to see if there are any errata online,” said the lovely and always-wise Snow.

    Well, paint me yellow and call me a cab — yes, there are indeed errata published online for this pattern. All those yo’s? It was a typo. Totally superfluous. They’re not supposed to be there.

    “Well, people make changes to patterns all the time. Maybe it will still work,” said lovely, always-wise Snow. I purled an entire row, so I wouldn’t have to bind off any decorative stitches — it took me two days to purl it all — and then started to bind off. 50 stitches in, I took a look at it. It did not look like a capelet. I wondered if it would work as a scarf. 100 stitches in, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore, and slipped it off the needles, hoping that it wouldn’t look like a thing of beauty.

    It did not look like a thing of beauty. It looked like an extra-long scarf with superfluous increases at the edges. It took me an hour to rip it all back and rewind it into a ball. Funny, I thought that I would be more upset about this than I seem to be.

    I think I’m a lifestyle knitter, too. I keep thinking that if I make myself the Scully sweater from Stitch ‘n’ Bitch, I will morph into a lissome pre-Raphaelite 20-year-old hipster beauty. Alas, I have just spent a night in a hotel room in Piscataway, New Jersey, where the light — and the mirrors — tell me that there is no sweater in the world that will do that for me. ;)

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