The ABCs of A Bad Knitter

Project – Carmela's Cardigan
Patons Pattern Book #500860 – Top Down Classics
Yarn – Patons Shetland Chunky Tweeds in Sea Ice Tweeds
Blogger – YoElizbo

I started Carmela's Cardigan with great enthusiasm and knit like a madwoman because it was such a cool project and sadly, spring is here and there would be limited opportunities to wear it until the fall. Oh, who was I kidding. I live in Seattle. We could still have cold, wet, cloudy, damp weather into July. But there is one key set of words in there that should have tipped me off that I was headed for a train wreck: knit like a madwoman.

Any time I get overly excited about a project, I swear my common sense and years of knitting experience go right out the window. And sadly, that is what happened with my Carmela. All of a sudden I was done with the body, nearly done with one sleeve, and about to run out of yarn. That didn't surprise me, as I had read about other knitters who had run short, so smugly I thought I was one of the crowd.

Then while I was waiting for the extra yarn to arrive, I starting looking at my knitting, at my nearly completed sweater and realized that not enough yarn was the least of my problems.

The great part of top down sweaters is that you can get a good, custom fit because you can slide the sweater at any time onto waste yarn and see how your project fits. And if you are smart, you do this each step along the way--after you get the neckline done, where to divide for the sleeves, a few inches after you divide for the sleeves, for waist shaping and finally for length. And if I hadn't been knitting like a madwoman and been so overly enamored with the idea of finishing it quickly, and done that simple step just once, I would have saved myself a couple of weeks of knitting and the heartache that is about to follow.

Be warned: if you are overly squeamish, have a heart ailment, or just can't stand the sight of knitting gone wrong, this post may be too much for you. Just saying, I warned you.

So for the brave of heart, here are the ABCs of a Bad Knitter:

Knitting Mistake A

The cool part of this sweater is the neckline, but for me, it became problematic for one simple reason: I have a large chest and narrow shoulders. So when I knit the long single strip of cable, I knit it in the size for my chest when I should have knit it for the actual size of my upper portions without the added consideration of the girls up front. So by the time I got the neckline ribbing and the front button bands on, it overlapped at my neckline by about five inches, making for a very sloppy and ill-fitting front. This is not the fault of the pattern, but me ignoring my own particular fit challenges.

Knitting Mistake B

Now the neckline problem rippled down into the where you divide off for the sleeves. If I had knit the neckline ribbing first, I would have had an accurate idea of where to divide off for the sleeves.  Because as you can see, I knit too far before I divided the body. Again, in a top-down sweater, this is where the knitter should make the decision and not the pattern--unless you don't have problems in this area and in that case, by all means, follow the pattern. But because we all fit differently this is where, if I had known where the ribbing was going to sit on my neckline, I would have divided for the sleeves at Point 1, rather than Point 2.

Just to confirm that this is really a disaster, I'll let you in on a little secret: Point 2 hits me at about my elbows. Even my mother, who has always been supportive about everything, shook her head and muttered something like, "what were you thinking?" Which brings me to the other "small" problem.

Knitting Mistake C

A knitting mistake that can be surmised in one word: gauge. Or in three words: How the heck???!!! Yes, my gauge is that far off. I knit a sweater that could be sold at Seattle Tent and Awning. This sweater could fit Bobo the Gorilla. No wonder I was out of yarn. See me hanging my head in shame. I really want to laugh, but it is so hard when this was so preventable. I think I go into denial over projects--that if I keep knitting, the problem I suspect is there will just go away. But on this, I have no idea how it got so far out of whack, but you can see by this photo that I am not only off, but really off.


So with all the mounting evidence against me, I knew I had two choices: Donate this sweater to an aging, bald gorilla at the Woodland Park zoo, or reknit it.

Sorry, Bobo, but I am going to reknit--because I am still in love with this sweater, and I am stubborn as all get out.

What do you do when you realize you have a problem, or in my case, problems? Does it matter how far along you are?



Oh, YoElizbo - I'm sorry to hear the news. Right now I'm dealing with a sweater coat crisis. My issues are more with finishing, though, so needing to un-seam two seams suddenly doesn't seem so bad! (Consider that a sneak preview of my next post!) I just hope we both wind up with wearable pieces - and all of our hair intact.

UGH! Isn't it funny that we keep knitting thinking it's going to get better or fix itself somehow? Seriously, we're smart and educated women and practiced at our craft yet somehow we buy into this delusion! I hate to admit that I would be one of those who will rip back 2200 miles of knitting if I love the project enough, want the finished object badly enough and have the time to redo. I'd just have to. Come on over, I'll put on a pot of coffee for us.