Friday, July 15, 2011

ghosts of sweaters past

A weird-and-nice thing about coming home in between yearlong stints abroad is finding all sorts of things you forgot you had wedged in your mother's closet. In my case, this not only involves a lot of stashed yarn (exciting!) but also sweaters of the past. I started knitting five years ago in hopes of making sweaters, and - in typical me style - bit off way more than I could chew in the start, so there are a lot of malformed lumpish things that beg to be unravelled - though after putting in as much work as I had, I never had the heart to oblige. It wasn't until I stumbled across this book that suddenly I realized that a) sweaters didn't have to be this giant Everest of a project and that b) customization is infinitely possible. Fortunately I had lots of time to experiment - in the 1.5 months between returning to Brooklyn from an epic backpacking trip and moving to Vietnam at the start of 2008, my boyfriend of many years and I broke up, and I found myself sitting in a half empty apartment with very little to do except apply for my CELTA program, practice Vietnamese, sew a skirt (badly), cobble together a quilt (even more badly) and of course, knit. Which I did, a lot, accompanied by marathon sessions of Project Runway and giant cups of Dunkin Donut's coffee (I lived next door to a Dunkin' Donuts, it was awesome).

This was well before I'd learned about Ravelry, and I didn't have access to many sweater patterns that weren't boxy and unflattering. The great thing about Ann Budd's books is that you can totally customize based on the bare bones she provides, so both of these sweaters are actually from the same pattern. This white sweater - knit in KnitPicks Shine Worsted in Cream - was, if not perfect, at least more or less what I was going for - a very wide v-neck with waist shaping and lace at the cuffs. The neckline is a little weird, and the underarms are a bit baggier than I'd like, but I was still pretty happy when I finished.

As for the first of the January 2008 sweaters, the less said the better - there are so, so many things wrong with this sweater, it's best you don't see it close up. I ran out of yarn, so the collar is a totally different dye lot than the rest of the body and it shows. There are weird holes in the fabric that still baffle me. Best of all, the shape of the neck was so totally wrong and wonky that - in what I'm sure is a reflection of my mental state at the time - I decided to just fudge the neckline by FOLDING IT OVER and picking up stitches from elsewhere in the fabric. 

Amazingly, I wore this first sweater on many a Dunkin' Donuts run while knitting the second, though in my defense, it was winter and the offending details were well covered up in winter clothes. Oh, sweater. It's so sad and messed up, but I was so proud of actually making a pullover that fit at the time. I still don't have the heart to unravel it.

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