Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Great Repair

It is not safe to let the following critters near your handknits:

Although they are clever, friendly, and interesting, they can do a number on your favorite sweater:

Fortunately, all of their damage was confined to the plain part of the sweater, so I was able to unpick the lower sleeve and saved the colorwork.

I had to rip back the sleeve past where it joined the body into the yoke, actually to the row below the yoke colorwork. In re-working the yoke, I discovered more gnawed areas, so I had to rip back even more than is shown here:

Do you see all those curly ends? Those are rat-gnawed strands, and each of the couple of hundred loose ends had to be woven in as I was re-knitting the damaged portion:

Good thing I still had plenty of the original yarn to work with! Good thing, too, that I write and save all my old patterns. I was able to re-create the round yoke shaping from my original directions as I re-knit the damaged portion of the yoke.

Note the woven-in curly ends right below the working yarn.

Here's the inside of the sweater after the yoke was re-worked. For now, I've left all the curly ends long. After the sweater has been worn a few times and washed once, I'll trim them down to an inch or two. I like to wait until a sweater has been broken in to trim the ends; that way any tight strands will have worked themselves looser and so be less likely to pop to the right side.

And here's the right side of the re-worked yoke. It's lumpy for sure right now, and there are faint vertical lines where I attached the new section to the main part of the yoke, but it looks pretty good. It should even out a lot over the first few wearings and a good washing.

The sleeve went quicker than I thought. Thanks again to saving my original written pattern so that I could figure out where to attach the saved portion of the sleeve to my re-worked sleeve.

Here the saved sleeve and the new sleeve are lined up ready to be grafted together. Kitchener stitch is an important talent for sweater repair.

Here's the wrong side of the repaired sweater. All ends are woven in, but they won't be trimmed for a month or two.

And here's the right side, showing the grafted-on sleeve and the re-worked yoke:

Another view of the finished repair. You can see the Kitchener line where I grafted the saved part of the sleeve to the new sleeve. This should even out over time.

After I'd finished the repair, I left it on my knitting table for a few days so I could admire it, then I folded the sweater and put it in my son's drawer. This morning he came out and said he'd discovered something wonderful.

“Thank you so much for fixing my sweater!”

This child of all of mine amazes me with the quality of his appreciation.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Remember this sweater?

I finished all the duplicate stitch color work on all the white bands.

All the little cats and flowers and even beads for the cat's eyes.

And four little cat faces for each sleeve.

It all took a lot of time. I could only work on it when I had good light and lots of patience, and each little motif took about an hour to finish.

So it was finished and I thought it was one of the most beautiful, intricate things I'd made. It looked good on Malcolm and he loved it.

This morning, he brought it to me and said, "The rats gnawed a hole in my sweater."

They sure did. They really did a number on the back of the right sleeve.

I was heartsick. There are several very large holes and a number of smaller ones. 

Fortunately, the rats managed to selectively gnaw the plain green section of the arm, not touching any of the color work.

Still, it's going to be a big repair job, the biggest I've ever done. I think I'll pick up stitches around the good part of the lower arm, detach it from the rest of the arm, rip the arm back through the biggest holes, repair the smaller holes that are very high up on the arm, re-knit the middle section of the arm, and then graft the good lower arm back on.

Sigh. I thought this sweater had already consumed enough of my life, but I guess it's my destiny to spend more time with it.

Just yesterday, I was talking about how I always save a little yarn from each project for repairs. I've repaired 20-year-old sweaters with the original yarn. I mentioned how hard growing boys are on their sweaters, but growing boys are not near as hard on sweaters as their pet rats.

On the bright side, this gives me an opportunity to document this repair job.

A Little Something

I bought this yarn some years ago and I've always loved it.

I used it in a couple of other projects, and had a little left. Enough for a child's sweater, perhaps, but certainly not enough for something for me.

I held onto it, though, because it was such a lovely yarn. There's something about a special yarn aged carefully in the stash. Every once in a while, I'd wind a skein of it into a ball and play with it for a while.

It didn't want to be anything except a very simple pattern in straight stockinette. The yarn sang so beautifully that it needed its knitting to support, but not overwhelm it.

In late summer, I got a brain wave. If I was careful, I could make it into a light summer tank. I knit a gauge swatch, measured carefully, and weighed it. I then weighed the skeins of yarn. I calculated the square yardage and decided I had just enough to make a tank top that skimmed the top of my hips.

So I did.

I knit from the top-down, designing to cover my bra and conform to my curves, with short rows to give extra length in the bust and short rows fore and aft to give the tank a gently curving hem.

Then I cast on a picot hem and knit Victoria's Lace Picot edging from one of Nicky Epstein's edging books. I grafted the edging onto the sweater, something that I definitely have to do again. So many wonderful edgings are knit from the bottom up, and I, a confirmed top-down knitter, can only use them if I'm willing to graft.

Around the neck and arms, a round of single crochet and then a round of crab stitch to stabilize the edges and harmonize with the Victoria's Lace Picot edging.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Grows on You

I haven't done a lot of knitting this winter. I've been working on a lap blanket here and there, and knitting this sweater.

The detail on the yoke is duplicate stitch, and I still have to do the matching sections on the body and arms.

As I was knitting the arms, I realized that they were getting too long. Before I ripped back, however, I grabbed the child involved and measured his arms again.

Yup. Between the time I designed this sweater and the time I finished knitting it, his arms have grown two inches.

Lucky me. No need to rip those sleeves after all.