Saturday, May 10, 2008

When Good Knits Go Bad

Remember This?

This is the Princess's* "Tweed Jacket with Cable Beret" from Great Knits for Kids by Debbie Bliss. I pulled it out this week, hoping to finish it quickly. After all, I just had a wee bit of the shoulders and collar to finish off before doing the sleeves and hat. It couldn't take that long!

However, when I placed it on my bed this morning, I realized that maybe I needed to reconsider the whole project.

The yarn itself is lovely. It's Jo Sharp Classic DK Wool in Cherry. In real life the color is deeper, almost scarlet, and is perfect for my blue-eyed blond Princess. It's a fantastic, basic wool that is well-made, versatile, and easy to knit. I purchased it three years ago, and as I am a careful knitter I bought everything the store had - almost two full bags.

Originally I was to knit a gorgeous smock for the Princess, based upon another Debbie Bliss design. This dress would be for my daughter's first preschool Christmas program, and was therefore destined to be an heirloom. I did my swatch, made my pattern notes, and away I went, happily knitting. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens with Bliss patterns, the thing turned out to be huge. (Yes, of course my gauge was spot on. The error here was in the pattern.) My poor child just looked lost in it, so I tucked it away to finish for the following year.

Then I found out I was having a second girl. Naturally, I ordered another bag of yarn and decided that the following year I would have matching dresses for my two girls! The Pixie, however, had other ideas. She was born with red hair and looked TERRIBLE when held next to my beautiful Jo Sharp yarn. I subsequently sold the third bag.

By this time I was sick of the original design, so the dress was frogged. I washed and reskeined the yarn, and went back to the drawing board.

When it came time to make another sweater for the Princess, I knew I was going to have to make a cardigan. The child, who complains of being too warm all of the time, barely wore her last handknit pullover because it was just too hot. Besides, I had just made a cardigan for her sister. I had in mind a very classic cabled sweater with a shawl collar, and pulled out the Debbie Bliss pattern because it was the closest thing that I had to the picture in my mind.

I should have known that it was destined for problems, starting with the pattern. I love Bliss's aesthetic, but I hate the way her patterns are written, so I rewrote the whole thing. Normally this isn't a big deal. This time, though, the changes were extensive. The cables had be be respaced, the welts and the collar redesigned, the whole sweater regauged and the sizing figured out. I felt like I was spending more time with reference books, paper and pen than with the actual knitting.

The biggest problem, though, was that my Princess had by now developed her own sense of style, and red was definitely NOT a color she wanted to wear. When asked her opinion, she once famously told me that it was ok, but that it would look better if I added pink and purple. My friends at the guild howled over that one.

Then I broke my finger in January, and the whole project was put on hold. Even when I started knitting again, I knew that I was going to have to wait until I regained strength in my hand so that my gauge wouldn't be wonky. It's been sitting in a basket since.

As I sat staring at the sweater this morning, I realized that I just have to face the fact that this sweater wasn't meant to be. At the very least, it will probably not fit the Princess this fall since it fits her now. It will never look good on the Pixie. Sweaters that are finished just to be finished are kind of sad. They need to be used, and loved to have been worth it. Beyond that, I just don't want to finish it. It's been too much work, and too much effort. Clearly, I pushed this one too far, determined to make that yarn into something...anything.

I will sit down this week and frog the sweater. Most likely, I will feel relief and a sense of freedom. There are other things that I want to knit for my daughters, and really this isn't one of them anymore.

As a friend from the guild says, knitting is supposed to be fun.

*The children will now be known as the Princess (5) and the Pixie (2).

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