Irrational Fear


I’ve been working on a sweater for my sister (incidentally, the worst kept secret on the Internet) for, oh, let’s just say a long time. The pattern is really wonderful to work with, as is the yarn. The lace detail in the front is interesting and not too frilly (not frilly at all, really), and there’s just enough of it to keep me on my toes while also being a primarily relaxing and mindless thing to knit. When I first cast on for this sweater, I raced through the three inches of broken ribbing, excited to move on to the main feature. When I got to the lace-and-stockinette body portion, I dutifully worked on it every night, giving it my full attention at the expense of dinner preparation, socializing, reading, attending to whatever I was supposed to be watching on TV. I learned quickly that continually asking “what did I miss?” when I was absorbed in my knitting and not paying attention to the plot of the TV show I was watching with Keith would only lead to exasperated sighs and the occasional frustrated glare in my direction (deservedly so, I will admit), but I pressed on nonetheless, motivated by my own intense interest and the joy I pictured on my sister’s face when she opened a box containing a beautiful hand knit sweater made just for her.

I finished the body of the sweater–all 16 and one-quarter inches of it– very quickly, and then it was time to move on to the sleeves. I thought I’d be smart about it and knit both sleeves on the same needles.

Humboldt sleeves

Knitting two sleeves at once is touted as a big time saver and is supposed to ensure that they’re uniform, so it seemed like a great idea.This sweater is going to be a gift, after all, and I want everything to be perfect. What proponents of the two-for-one fail to tell unassuming knitters like myself, though, is that it makes the process of sleeve knitting, easily the most boring part of making a sweater, even more boring. Not only do you have to contend with extra needles getting in the way, you’re also working with two balls of yarn that get tangled up. All the stopping-and-starting necessary to knit two sleeves at once–stopping to untangle yarn, stopping to flip the sleeves over to start the next side, etc–really killed my mojo for this sweater. I made a point of working on the sleeves at least once a week, but, beyond that, it wasn’t totally apparent that I would be able to finish this sweater by the time our birthday rolls around in August.

Of course, this hasn’t stopped me from knitting other things. In fact, one might describe what I’ve been working on instead of my sister’s sweater as procrasti-knitting (haha, I just came up with that!). Since I’ve stalled out on the sweater, I’ve done the following:

– Started and nearly finished a baby sweater for my new niece or nephew (only collar detailing remains).

– Started 5, and completed 3, pairs of socks.

– Cast on for a new, bulky sweater that will be great for the fall (but also kind of an insane thing to knit as the weather gets warmer).

– Swatched with some linen yarn for a lightweight summer cardigan.

So, I’ve been keeping busy and trying not to feel too guilty about neglecting the mental albatross that my sister’s sweater has become.

Fortunately for me and my sister’s sweater, though, the neglect hasn’t been too bad. At some point last week, I took myself by surprise and managed to get the sleeves to the right length. Time to join the sleeves to the body and finish the yoke!, I thought to myself for about a second. Then, I realized that I’ve never actually done this part before. All of the sweaters I’ve made up to now have been knit from the top down, where the sleeves are picked up from the shoulders and knit after the yoke and body have been finished. In other words, easy to do. This bottom-up sweater business, on the other hand, is entirely new to me. And even though the new challenge of bottom-up sweater construction is one of the reasons I chose this pattern, I’ve found myself feeling completely terrified of continuing. What if I mess this up in a really irreversible way? If I make a mistake, will I be able to fix it, or will there be no going back?

I suppose this is all preamble to the main point, which is: I’m going in. Today’s the day that I figure out how to join the sleeves to the body of this goddamn sweater, once and for all. If anyone has any advice they’d like to share about how to do this well (or, at least, how not to ruin what I’ve already done), I’m all ears. Wish me luck! I’ll happily accept any positive vibes, good karma, well wishes, etc., that anyone has to spare.


6 thoughts on “Irrational Fear

    • Thanks very much! I joined the sleeves this afternoon and nobody died! The next challenge will be getting the raglan decreases right!

      • So glad to hear nobody died! I am sure the decreases will go much better than you suspect, we are always are own worst critics!

        Good luck and keep the photos coming, they’re lovely!

  1. I am so stoked for this sweater! I showed my students a picture of it, but they couldn’t appreciate it’s awesomeness. Whatever, I’ll have the last laugh in my bitching sweater! Mwahahah!

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